Do you seem to catch every cold that goes around?
Or perhaps you get that one cold that just lingers on and on … until Spring?
Conventional wisdom says there’s not much you can do about this. Colds happen. Wash your hands, take cold medicine and get back to work!
Grandma would disagree. And this is where things get interesting. Because Grandma believed that what we eat is a huge factor in our health. Literally, you are what you eat. And that differs from our modern opinion that we can eat whatever we want and then take medication to “fix” us when we get sick. And I’m not just talking about eating junk food, although that’s a big culprit. Perhaps you don’t eat vegetables. Or you eat completely fat-free and low-calorie. Or you only eat a very limited diet.
I propose a new way to think about food. Let’s eat food that nourishes us. Nourishment. That’s a nice word. It sounds comforting, and cozy, and soothing and … tasty? At least it sounds more appetizing than the latest scientific diet.
I’m suggesting this shift in thinking because I’ve done it myself, and it’s worked for me. Rather than obsessing and calculating each meal, I have started to pay attention to my body and give it what it needs at that time. Since making some simple changes, I have more energy and seem to catch colds less often. My approach isn’t scientific, but it’s based on traditional wisdom, seasonality, and paying more attention to what foods work for my unique body, rather than the latest nutrition article.
And now I want to share this approach with you.
As you might know, I’m currently in school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to learn more about designing unique diet and lifestyle plans based on individual needs. I’ve had such a positive change in my life through adjusting my diet, cooking more, and learning to make things myself – and I want to share all this good stuff with you!
This year I’ll be launching a series of workshops, online courses, and one-on-one programs to help you with all of the elements we cover on VintageAmanda: food, health, beauty and creativity. Sneak previews and special pre-registration will be available through my mailing list – so if you’re not already a member, please sign up on the right side of the blog.
But back to what we can do immediately to avoid catching a cold this winter:
5 tips to boost your immune system and prevent winter colds
I can’t guarantee that you won’t get a cold this winter… but if you make these five changes, you should see improvements in your energy levels and notice that you don’t catch that ‘office bug’ quite so often.
1) Eat for the season: This is straight out of our Indian Grandmothers’ Ayurvedic handbook – winter is cold and damp, so we need to eat foods that counteract that. This means lots of warming foods like soups, casseroles and oatmeal. It can also mean using warming spices in your cooking – things like pepper, ginger and cinnamon.
2) Eat some (healthy) fat at every meal: Eating some fat is essential for keeping you healthy and has a couple great side benefits. In the winter, eating some fats will help keep your skin supple. Eating fat also helps you stay full longer, so you’re more satisfied after you eat. And, eating some healthy fat can help reduce sugar cravings (see #3). What is healthy fat? Cold pressed olive oil is the best one. I also use some raw coconut oil. And a few almonds or walnuts every day.
3) Eat less sugar. First, sugar often causes mood swings – you feel great immediately after eating it, and then 2 hours later have a crash. So you eat more sugar. Fluctuating moods are not good for making you calm, low-stress and cold resistant! Also, some studies suggest that sugar depresses the immune system. You can (and probably will) eat sugar, just be aware of it, and try to eat less, especially if you feel like you are coming down with a cold!
4) Add some immune boosting herbs and spices: Why not incorporate this elderberry cordial (perhaps as a hot toddy?) into your winter routine? Other great winter herbs and spices are garlic and onions, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and the Chinese herb astragalus. It would be easy to get lots of wintery spices in a daily cup of Chai spice tea.
5) Keep your stress levels in check: We don’t need a study to tell us that this is true – we tend to get sick when we’re stressed out. Stress has a real and direct effect on the immune system. Don’t forget to take time to play this winter. Exercise your creativity. Learn a new skill. Visit with a friend. Take a hot bath. Keeping your stress levels under control will go a long way to keeping you healthy.
What do you eat to keep yourself healthy during the winter? How do you nourish yourself through food? Share your tips here!