Tips and strategies for not getting sick this cold season (and all year!)

How Not to Catch a Cold

Tips and strategies for not getting sick this cold season (and all year!)

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is how to stay healthy during cold and flu season. Unfortunately, there’s little you can do once you pick up a cold or infection, except let it run it’s course. I like to focus more on keeping my immune system strong and healthy as a preventative measure.

Going beyond eating healthy (because that’s a given, right?) below are some things you can do that will make a big difference in your health during cold and flu season and beyond.  

Wash Your Hands

First things first, the BEST defense against getting a cold or other illness is to wash your hands often. You should also be vigilant about not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Make it a habit to wash your hands after you return from public places, especially your child’s school (germ-fest!), the gym (bigger germ-fest!) and places like the metro and other public transportation (biggest germ-fest!).

Stop Stressing Out

It doesn’t matter what you eat if you’re always stressed out. It’s pretty well established that people who are under chronic stress are more likely to catch colds. Why? It’s linked to how stress changes your body’s inflammatory response. Researchers have identified an immune factor called glucocorticoid receptor resistance or GCR. When GCR is increased, your immune cells don’t respond as well to the signals that turn off inflammation. Cytokines play a role, too. Cytokines are inflammation-inducing chemical messengers that cause most cold symptoms. It appears that the higher the GCR you have before exposure to a virus the more cytokines you produce after infection. I know it’s easier said than done, but getting your stress level under control is a top defense against getting sick.

Meditate

Meditation is a great way to reduce stress. As previously mentioned, the less you stress, the stronger your immune system gets. In a 2012 study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), meditation was tested against exercise as a way to reduce acute respiratory infections during cold season. Surprisingly, the meditation group had shorter and less severe colds and lost fewer days of work than the exercise group! Exercise alone had some benefit, but not as much as the meditation group did. I think that’s pretty cool. It illustrates the power we have within us to keep ourselves healthy. The New York times has some great resources for learning how to meditate. I also love this column called Meditation for Real Life about creating mindfulness in your everyday activities.

Clean Out Your Nose

If you’re like me, the thought of shooting salt water up your nose is not high on your to-do list. This is coming from a non-swimmer who still holds her nose. But, people do it. And they love it. Whether your go-to is a neti pot (an ancient Ayurvedic remedy) or another device (bottles, sprays, pumps, or nebulizers) the idea is the same: nasal irrigation provides relief from sinus congestion, allergies, and colds. It can also be used as a preventative measure by clearing out nasal passages and thinning mucus.

Sip on Broth

I’m not a big medication person so my favorite remedy for a cold is homemade chicken soup. I roast up a whole chicken, give my husband most of the meat, and then simmer the bones (the carcass, as we like to call it) in chicken broth with sauteed carrots, celery and onion. It’s as soothing and comforting as it is rich in immune-loving minerals. Broth also contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur in an easily absorbed form, as well as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, which are amazing for your joints.

Strengthen Your Gut

Studies show that probiotics reduce the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infections. The flora in your digestive tract protects you by strengthening the cells lining your GI tract and regulating the inflammatory immune response. Increasing the good bacteria in your gut is key to keeping yourself healthy. Natural sources like yogurt, kefir, miso soup and tempeh are great ways to keep the balance. Try my 5-Spice Tempeh Salad here.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation has been shown to suppress the immune system. Studies show our T-cell numbers decrease and inflammatory cytokines go up when we’re sleep deprived. A weakened immune system means you’re more susceptible to a cold or flu virus. To get your zzz’s (7-8 hours per night) it’s important to stick to a sleep schedule. Don’t stimulate your brain late at night with electronics or TV.  Stick to the same sleep and wake times so you get eight hours of restorative shut-eye each night!

Spinach Salad with Baked Pears

I’m lovin’ this delicious salad made with sweet baked pears, salty blue cheese, and crunchy pecans, all tossed in a tangy vinaigrette!   

I was asked by my friends at the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network to participate in the #tastetruvia campaign.  I received Truvia samples and was compensated for my time. I really didn’t need any samples because I have a ton of the stuff already in my pantry.  I use Truvia at home quite a bit, but not for what you would think. Since I’m the self-proclaimed worst baker on the planet, I use it more in my everyday cooking rather than baked treats.

Since I’m always thinking of ways to reduce my sugar intake, Truvia is a natural go-to. Sugar is definitely something that causes a lot of problems for my clients. For most of them, the more sugar they eat, the more sugar they want. If I’m able to find clean ways to help them enjoy sweet foods without taking in a lot of sugar, I’m all for it. I always recommend Truvia for my Nourish participants, too.

I mostly love using stevia in salad dressings and sauces. The vinaigrette in this scrumptious pear salad is a staple at my house. Most vinaigrettes benefit from a little hit of sweet to counteract the acid from the vinegar and Truvia is the perfect way to get the sweet taste without the added sugar. One packet of Truvia provides the same sweetness as two teaspoons of real sugar, so a little goes a long way!

The baked pears definitely benefit from a toss in some coconut oil and a little Truvia. Start with firm pears and watch as they roast up into sweet and delicious morsels of yum.

Truvia is a natural, great-tasting, zero-calorie sweetener made with stevia leaf extract, the sweetest part of the stevia leaf.  I love that Truvia comes in both a spoonable container and throw-in-your-purse packets. It’s pretty convenient, too. You can find it at most national grocery stores — even Target!

I made this pear salad for my husband as a special treat for lunch. We both work from home and he loves being my taster when I’m creating new recipes. He also loves all things sweet so I knew the baked pears in the salad would be right up his alley. I’m thinking it would be perfect with a grilled salmon filet for MY lunch, too!

Here’s how I made it:

Spinach Salad with Baked Pears

Serving Size: 1

Spinach Salad with Baked Pears

Ingredients

    For the Dressing:
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 packet Truvía® Natural Sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Pears:
  • 1 firm Anjou, Bartlett, or Asian Pear, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • For the Salad:
  • 2 big handfuls baby spinach
  • 2 Tbsp toasted pecans
  • 2 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles

Instructions

  1. For the Baked Pears: Preheat oven to 350. Peel and halve the pear lengthwise. Remove the core with a paring knife. Set each half cut-side down and slice lengthwise into fifths. Melt coconut oil and toss pears with oil and 1/2 packet of Truvia. Arrange pears in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet or dish and bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown and caramelized. Let pears cool while preparing salad.
  2. For the dressing: Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, remaining half of Truvia packet, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Layer spinach, pecans, and blue cheese in a serving bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss gently to combine; top with cooled pears. Serve immediately.
http://foodconfidence.com/2017/01/18/spinach-salad-with-baked-pears/

Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Nourish

taglinenourishYou’re skeptical. I get it. I would be, too. What can my program do for you that you haven’t already done? How is different from those “other” programs out there (hint: they don’t have me)? Perhaps you’ve tried it all and nothing seems to work. Well, it’s time for a change!

If you think you know what my Nourish program is about, here’s what you might not know:

1: It’s Not a Diet

At all. It’s a way to learn a ton about your body and how it reacts to the food you are eating. Yes, we give up stuff…but not for the reasons you think. We give up the foods that are probably making you sick, tired, and unable to lose weight. We do this so you can figure out if these foods are messing with your digestion. Once you know this, you can start to heal. It’s not about following a strict plan or eating like I eat, it’s about learning to eat the way your body wants to eat.

2: You Can Do Anything For 21 Days

That’s right. You are more powerful than you think. Once you get off refined food, stimulants, and sugar  you’ll be surprised how easy it is and you will love how awesome you feel. You’ll even save money because you won’t be relying on other people to cook your food. No more fast food or take-out to feed yourself.  You know what your current diet is doing for you, give me just 21 days and discover a new way of eating.

3: What You Put In is More Important Then What You Take Out

All those “other” programs focus more on restricting and focusing mainly on what you’re not eating. I don’t care as much about that. I care what you ARE eating. Removing entire food groups is easy. Of course you’ll lose weight that way, you end up eating less calories. But is it sustainable? Should you do this long-term? What’s the health benefit? And most importantly, what are you replacing these foods with?  Nourish teaches you how to feel full and satisfied on less food, no deprivation required.

4: You Won’t Die Without Your Coffee

You really won’t, I promise. The way I see it this: coffee is good for you, unless it’s not. It’s really that simple. If you have IBS, leaky gut, or reflux, it might not be your friend. Learn how you feel without your daily cup of Joe and then make an informed decision about it. Still not convinced? See #2.

5: Vegetables Can Taste Good

If your daily repertoire consists of a small side of steamed broccoli, I’m talking to you. You can expand your horizons and learn how to prepare crave-worthy veggie dishes. By learning a few chef-inspired tips and tricks, vegetables can be delicious! Beyond taste, veggies are your secret weapon to living a healthy life in a body you love. Give yourself a chance to learn to love veggies!

6: You Don’t Have to Count Calories to Lose Weight

When you’re eating clean, calorie counting is often not necessary. When you choose clean, nutrient-rich food you will rely less on will power. Why? Because nutrients in your food signal satiety in your brain. Highly refined and processed foods lack these signaling nutrients. You know this because you can eat serving after serving of them and never feel satisfied. Calorie rich food does not always equal fullness, but nutrient rich food does! Nourish will prove this point to you over and over again.

7: You Don’t Need All That Protein

Protein is important but we try way too hard to get it. Guess what? If you’re eating enough, you’re likely getting enough. Let’s put that same effort toward getting in leafy greens and vegetables and see what amazing things happen. Nourish teaches you how to create a balanced plate so there’s never a question of “how much should I eat”?

8: Fruit Doesn’t Make You Fat

Let me just say this, fruit is not your problem.

9: Carbs Are Not Evil. And Neither Is Gluten (well maybe…)

Poor carbs, they are such an easy target. And yes, they can be devoid of nutrients and full of empty calories. They can also be so high in gluten they are making you sick. But this is not the case for everyone. In fact, it’s not the case for most people. Most of us can eat the heck out of carbs and feel perfectly fine. Can you? It’s worth the effort to find out.

10: It Could Change Your Life, If You Let It

What you feed yourself day to day might be the most important decisions you make in your life. These choices can have profound effects. They can make you sick or keep you well. Changing your diet changes your outlook and that can change your life. If you let it. Nourish will help you take that first step.

Are you ready?

Prep week starts January 16th. Learn more and get all the details right here.

Remember, you can participate from anywhere in the world, on your time.