Embracing Winter

Embracing WinterWinter and I used to have a very unpleasant relationship. I would start dreading its arrival in autumn and when it did finally arrive, it was just a season to get through as painlessly as possible.

Then four years ago, my husband and I took a six month sabbatical and travelled in the south hemisphere during the winter months in Europe. And something unexpected happened: Living a life of endless summery weather finally made me appreciate the importance of colder weather. Without winter, spring doesn’t feel miraculous. And without ever being cold, you don’t appreciate feeling warm. We understand our world through contrasting experiences.

Here are some of the ways I have found most helpful to embrace Winter, inspired by Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a holistic approach which originated in India and is about creating balance within the mind and the body by following the patterns of nature.


One of the core principles in Ayurveda is that Like increases like and opposites balance. This means that cold food or drinks on cold days make you feel colder and that hot food and drinks will actually help you feel less cold. This seems obvious but can be very powerful when really applied. I eat a lot less salads and raw fruits and vegetables in winter as they are very cooling. On days when I feel cold, I try to eat a warm breakfast such as whole grain porridges and use spices and ginger very generously in my cooking or in smoothies as they are warming. I also drink more herbal teas or ginger infusions than cold water and more foods like soups, stews and grilled vegetables. I sometimes even sip on warm water alone instead of drinking cold water.

Another core principle of Ayurveda is to eat seasonally. Winter vegetables used to scare me since I had no idea how to prepare them. Then I started buying one new winter vegetable each week and now I’ve discovered an array of winter vegetables that I actually enjoy eating. The easiest way to prepare any winter vegetable is to roast them, as outlined in my step-by-step recipe here.

In winter, we need more healthy fats and proteins such as nuts, seeds, coconut, eggs and other animal products – you can read more about healthy sources of fats here.


Winter in nature is a time of rest. Respect the natural slowing down that happens during this season by planning less activity and going out less. Winter provides us with the opportunity to go within.

Get as much daylight as possible – aim for at least 15 minutes every day. It is surprisingly easy not to see daylight at all when you are working in an office all day!

The kidneys and bladder are especially vulnerable in winter. Using a kidney warmer like this to keep your kidneys warm can help if you know this is a weakness for you.


Cultivate gratitude: Here’s my list of things to be grateful for in winter: Going to the mountains with friends, drinking a warm herbal tea, the coziness of being wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa, the brave birds that are still around, the dramatic beauty of snow and the stark beauty of bare trees, all the spices that make this season so tasty…When you decide to notice the beauty around you, you do.

What about you, how do you embrace winter?

Root veggies

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  • levitra on Mar 13, 2015 Reply

    Your’s is a point of view where real intelligence shines through.

  • Nadia on Nov 30, 2014 Reply

    What helps me to go through winter is tea!

  • Nelly on Feb 04, 2013 Reply

    Gratitude is a very good idea,but I do it in all weathers all year round.

  • Nelly on Feb 04, 2013 Reply

    A good one Hiba,you make winter feel so cosy.We have many foods that we eat only in winter,like Linten soup malfoof and maftool( which we are invited to on Friday ) and cannot eat in summer when it is hot and sweaty.

  • Faris on Feb 04, 2013 Reply

    Never enjoyed winter much personally, but your suggestions do make it a little more bearable!

  • Berenice on Feb 03, 2013 Reply

    I agree with you- we rarely tend to Enjoy fresh air in winner and hibernate too Much. But like you say winter is a mix of rare sun That you can embrace ! these days i love going out and feel the cold energy out there ! Which Wasnt always the case for me as i am usually very Chilly 😉

  • Hiba on Feb 03, 2013 Reply

    Hi Amber, thanks for your comment – how great that you actually enjoy winter so much! I guess I was just assuming that everyone had the difficulty I did with winter :)

    • Adelaide on Aug 08, 2016 Reply

      That saves me. Thanks for being so sebeinls!

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    • http://www./ on Jan 17, 2017 Reply

      Pictures are great! I am sure it tasted even better. Never thought about searing them in their shell but you are right, it must have kept it more flavorful. I need to start eating more salads!

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  • Amber on Feb 03, 2013 Reply

    Great post! I have always felt that eating habits and other changes should be in sync with nature and seasons. I just never knew how to make it happen.

    To answer your question: I embrace winter completely. I tend to do the opposite though… while most people want to stay wrapped up and cozy – I tend to gain more energy and want to be outside. :)

  • Hiba on Feb 03, 2013 Reply

    Hi Stacey, thanks for your comment – that’s actually a great way to force yourself to try new veggies!

  • Stacey on Feb 03, 2013 Reply

    I love the suggestion of trying a different winter vegetable every week. I started getting an organic vege box delivered which helped me here as I didn’t know what I would end up with in the box – and had to work out how to cook some of the new things.

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