Dec 16, 2019 « Back to The Skinny
By: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Naturally Slim Instructor, Meridan Zerner
‘Tis the season… Cold and flu season, that is.
Before you feel that first sniffle coming on, we’re going to talk about the best strategies to stay healthy.
And just in case you do happen to catch whatever bug is being shared around the office, we’ve also got some cold-fighting foods that’ll help you get back on your feet faster!
Focus on your hands
Of course, washing your hands frequently has to be on the top of your stay well “to-do” list.
Not-so-fun fact: The average person only spends 6 seconds washing their hands!
Get your zzzzz’s
Next, maintain your usual lifestyle pattern as best as you can, especially when it comes to managing your stress and getting enough sleep. Why? Chronic sleep deprivation can lower your immune response (AND lead to overeating)!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, but nearly 35% of us get less than seven. That slow accumulation of sleep debt can affect your appearance, your body’s ability to fight off sickness, and even the way your brain functions.
Chicken soup, anyone?
If you do catch a cold, there are some foods that can provide energy AND be easy on the stomach. I often recommend the B.R.A.T. diet:
These are foods that are bland, low fat, lower acid, and easy to digest. You may have your own “tried and true” favorites as well. Some people eat grits or oatmeal. Others may do mashed potatoes or gelatin or crackers.
There’s chicken soup! It’s an excellent source of fluids and electrolytes, as well as providing vitamins and minerals to get you feeling better faster. The hot steam from the soup may even help with nasal congestion. Other cold/flu fighters are:
When our body is fighting a cold or flu, the goal is fluids, fluids, and more fluids. Staying hydrated can help you feel better faster.
Speaking of fluids, that is what you may lose a lot of when you are sick for various reasons (no appetite, vomiting, etc.). Fluid loss can show up on the scale, but it’s not “real weight loss” – it’s fluid loss. It's unlikely that you will be able to maintain that specific loss, so don’t be concerned if your scale drops briefly and then returns to the weight you were before you got sick.
Reach for the zinc
Research suggests that the mineral zinc, preferably through food, can actually decrease the growth of viruses. According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health), adding more zinc may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms if you increase your zinc intake as symptoms crop up. You can get more zinc through meat, tofu, oysters, and lentils.
More serious symptoms
Sometimes, it’s more than a cold or the flu. So, call your doctor if your symptoms worsen or if you are experiencing:
Taking care of yourself today with intentional food choices, adequate fluids, and a good night of sleep will go a long way. And again, just in case, stock up on sick-day supplies in advance!