When the weather gets cold and the days get shorter, we spend much of our time indoors, but that’s no excuse to give up on healthy Paleo living.
For those looking to live more of a caveman lifestyle, the winter can be the trickiest season. The sun rises later and sets earlier, which means short days and long nights for those using the sun to plan their activities.
Someone wanting to go to bed when the sun goes down doesn’t have a lot of time to get work done, particularly in northern locations where that happens a bit earlier than it does closer to the equator.
In ancient times, when darkness fell, it didn’t necessarily mean it was time for sleep, even when seasonal living was the rule. Evening was a good time to be under shelter doing maintenance tasks, preserving food, making or mending clothes, and taking care of other jobs that did not necessarily require daylight—a gradual winding down to bedtime.
Although we aren’t like bears or other hibernating mammals, it is quite likely that early humans slept longer during the winter months. The extended darkness and colder weather naturally encourages a slower metabolism.
No doubt our caveman ancestors would have tried to conserve their energy and move as little as possible until the weather warmed up again. That explains why we’re conditioned to do the same even now.
Weight gain heading into winter is also natural—a part of the human body’s survival mechanism. So putting on a few pounds during the holiday season cannot be entirely blamed on the amount of baked goods brought into the office.
Many of us go to work in darkness and come home again after the sun goes down. That discourages physical activity, so staying active becomes even more critical during the winter, making the most of existing opportunities for exercise.
For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park father from the office entrance to walk some extra distance to work. Such activities help keep the blood flowing and mitigate the natural tendency to gain weight.
Another issue can be diet, particularly for those who want to eat local foods as much as possible. Many have the mistaken impression that the caveman lifestyle means it’s tough to find healthy fare in the colder months, and that is simply not the case.
Cauliflower, kale, bok choy, artichokes, snow peas and radishes are among the many vegetables that are available fresh in the colder months. They can add needed nutrients to the diet. Winter game and fish can provide protein, too.
Remember, if the cavemen had starved in the winter months, we wouldn’t be here today. Clearly they made the most of colder, darker times, and so can we.
Alfablue, February 2012