Fighting fit this winter from our dietitian Jenelle Croatto

Fighting fit this winter from our dietitian Jenelle Croatto

Winter has arrived and it often comes along with its not so friendly friend – the winter cold.
Don’t become a cold and flu statistic! As the name suggests the common cold is very common, with adults generally having between two to four colds each year.

The secret to maintaining you vitality this winter is to rev up your body’s natural defences. An immune system in tip-top condition will ensure you have the best defence against the winter nasties. A healthy immune system is more than eating well, it is important to focus on each aspect of our life has a direct link with our health.

Follow these suggestions to stay healthy this winter.

1. Nutrition
I am strong advocate of the Plate Model. By following this structure when is comes to designing your meals you are ensuring you have created a nutritionally balanced meal. How to do this: ½ plate vegetables/fruit, ¼ plate lean protein, ~ ¼ plate low GI carbohydrates and a small portion of healthy fats.
This is the way I eat at every meal, including breakfast. By planning ahead I make sure I can always create a nutritious and just as important – delicious meal.
Here are some examples of creating a meal based on the Plate Model
– Breakfast
Porridge with low fat milk, topped with fruit and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds.
– Lunch
Sandwich or wrap with grilled chicken, avocado and packed full of salad vegetables.
– Dinner
Beef and vegetable stir-fry with brown rice drizzled with olive oil.

2. Sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential in achieving optimal health and maintaining a fighting fit immune system! Experts recommend between 7 and 8 hours sleep each night, however, this may vary between individuals. Gage how much sleep you need by seeing how refreshed you feel when waking up. Keep in mind that over sleeping can cause fatigue and interfere with your sleep the following night. Aim to go to sleep the same time each night and rise at the same hour in the mornings.

A psychologist friend of mine likes to talk about maintaining your ‘sleep hygiene’. In other words, are you doing all you can to have the best night’s sleep? Develop a sleep routine to get yourself ready for sleep. Perhaps some light stretching to ease muscle tension, reading a novel, switching the television off in the hour leading up to sleep and dimming the lights.

3. Me time
Il dolce far niente…’the sweetness of doing nothing’ as the Italian’s would say. Making time for yourself each and every day is crucial in maintaining balance with both your physical and mental health. Just as you pencil in your diary your daily tasks like ‘take kids to soccer’, ‘groceries’ and ‘clean bathroom’, make it a priority to schedule in time for the most important person – YOU! Whether it is reading a book, coffee with a friend, taking a long bath or gardening, make sure you are doing it for pleasure and relaxation. In doing so you will be refreshed to take on the day and prevent fatigue, which only leads to a weakened immune system.

4. Activity
Physical activity is not only great for maintaining a healthy weight and strong bones; it also helps boost your immunity by burning stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Continual high levels of these hormones circulating in your body can wreak havoc on your immune system. Apart from avoiding excessive stress in your life, being physically activity each day will help keep your immune system in check – and also make you look and feel great! Try to add in extra activity where ever you can e.g. brisk walk in the morning, taking the stairs, walk during your lunch break or parking your car further away from your destination.

5. Hygiene
It’s called washing, not wetting your hands! This means lathering them in soap and washing with water. Be sure to wash your hands after sneezing or coughing, before eating, preparing food and touching your face. Also try and avoid those around you who may be currently unwell.