When the air gets crisp, and the days get shorter we know it’s time to start looking toward the holidays and great times with our families. It’s also time to sharpen our focus on our health. First, let’s think about the approaching holidays.
Out west, for whatever reason, Halloween is a big deal. There are houses with elaborate decorations, huge haunted houses and corn mazes. I don’t know how it is where you live but it seems to get crazier every year. After Halloween the focus turns to Thanksgiving and big family dinners. We can’t always control the menu when we go to dinner at our family’s or friend’s house, but we can eat healthy this fall when we are cooking for ourselves. The National Institute on Aging, an institute and center under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has a great web page that offers recipes for one day or for a week’s worth of healthy meals. I think it’s worth trying to see how you feel after eating healthy for a week. I know as my schedule gets hectic, I find myself eating a lot of fast food, both outside my home and inside. How many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have you eaten when you didn’t think you had time to fix something nutritious. I know that if I’ve planned a week’s worth of meals, I’m more inclined to stick to the plan. Take a look at the web page – you might find yourself clicking on some of the links that talk about other healthy ideas, like lowering your blood pressure, menus to lose weight, and even a sample shopping list; it’s well worth your time.
I found another really good web page on Delish.com that is loaded with great recipes that are quick and easy. You need to be careful to choose the healthy ones, but it’s almost always better to cook at home with your ingredients than to go out to eat. This web page offers over 60 easy recipes.
If you want to go crazy here is a web page with over 2,000 fall recipes. Don’t say I didn’t give you many options. Everyone ought to be able to find something they like on one of these sites.
Now that your mouth is watering thinking about all that good fall food you’re going to be eating, let’s talk about how to stay healthy, both mentally and physically, this fall. There are some problems that come with the fall. The days get shorter, the cold sometimes keeps us from venturing out, some of us may not have family that is close. For some, the holidays can be gloomy. There are some things we can do. At Activeminds.org they offered 15 things you can do to make your autumn a safe and healthy time. Here they are:
1) Start taking a Vitamin D supplement. We get most of our Vitamin D from the sun, so our intake decreases when the weather is colder since we spend most of our time inside during the fall/winter seasons. If you find you are not getting outside much, a Vitamin D supplement can boost your mood and immune system!
2) Take some time to yourself. Autumn and winter are the Earth’s way of telling us to slow down. Start a journal or track your moods to get more in touch with how you’re feeling.
3) Get your flu shot and yearly check-up. Self-explanatory! No one likes sniffling and aching and sneezing and coughing getting in the way of life. Yuck.
4) Boost your immune system. You can do this by drinking plenty of water, washing your hands often to prevent sickness, and eating nutritious foods.
5) Get yourself ready for Daylight Saving Time. Go to bed earlier when you can, especially the week before the clocks change. Longer periods of darkness = longer periods of sleep!
6) Make some plans for the cold months. In the winter, we tend to hibernate if we don’t have things to keep us busy.
7) Moisturize your skin. Harsh temperatures can make your skin dry. Also, you still should be wearing sunscreen.
8) Buy in-season food. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kale, pumpkin, broths, roasted squash, roots, and sautéed dark leafy greens are all great choices.
9) Stay active! It can be easy to just sit around all the time, but it’s important to get in some movement throughout the day. Raking leaves or shoveling snow counts!
10) Wear layers and protect your body from the dropping temperature. Make sure you have gloves, a scarf, earmuffs, a winter coat, warm socks, and snow boots!
11) Do some “spring cleaning” in the fall. Clean out your closet, organize that back room, and rid yourself of things you don’t need.
12) Prepare your home for possible extreme weather conditions. Do you have a shovel and/or snow blower? Do your flashlights have batteries? Is your heat working okay?
13) Get some books to read and shows to watch. Who doesn’t want to sit by the fire on chilly winter nights and read a good book or binge-watch some Netflix?
14) Keep a schedule. The cold months can seem to drag on and push us into isolation. Stay on track by scheduling time in your day to do things you like to do.
15) Be kind to yourself. The holidays can cause weight gain, the shorter days can cause low mood, and the flu season can cause sickness. Listen to your body and give it what it needs, and don’t beat yourself up! Try reframing negative thoughts into positive ones.
These are all excellent points. They made me stop and think about how these months have affected me in the past and made me consider what I could do to have a happier, healthier fall.
One last thing, some of us are eligible now for COVID-19 booster shots, I was eligible and got my booster last week. Many more of us will probably be eligible in a few weeks. There’s been a lot of talk about people feeling guilty about getting boosters when poorer countries haven’t had very many vaccinated with the first shots. Many manufacturers and our government are working to get the vaccines to these poorer countries because it is important to get the whole world vaccinated, but the available vaccines that have already been distributed around the United States cannot be shipped overseas. We shouldn’t feel guilty about using these vaccines. It has been shown that our immunity drops after a few months, especially to the Delta variant. These COVID-19 booster shots will raise our immunity and continue to protect us. Go get your booster! Oh, and while you’re at it, get your flu shot also. I did, I got the COVID-19 booster in my right arm and the flu shot in the left. Made me feel like I was back in the Air Force.
Do everything you can to stay healthy and happy this fall – you deserve it.