With fall time comes scarves, boots, all things pumpkin…and unfortunately, cold/flu season. Boo.
Some of my friends claim that I “never get sick.” I don’t think that’s quite true, but I’ve actually never been to the doctor for anything that wasn’t related to an annual checkup (knock on wood – although there was the time I went to urgent care because I got 100ish mosquito bites and swelled up…but that probably doesn’t count?)
I have a regimen I follow to prevent getting sick when everyone else around me is sniffling, and I really do think it helps a lot! If I do end up getting a cold, I feel like I’m able to get over it more quickly. I’d like to add that I’m NOT a medical professional whatsoever. These are just the tips/tricks that work for me, if you’d like to give it a try!
- Get more sleep – I feel like this is probably the cure for everything, right? We’re just all so tired and overworked, especially as it gets closer to the holidays. However, notice I didn’t say to get 8 hours. That is not always doable, especially when you’re busy. My tip is to try to get more sleep, whatever that means for you. When everyone around me is getting sick or I’m feeling a little run down myself, I just start going to bed a little earlier, even if it’s just 30 minutes to an hour. Every little bit helps!
- Drink the right kind of caffeine – I’m not saying to stop having caffeine. Let’s be real here. But, instead of a caramel macchiato, Red Bull, or Diet Coke, I drink green tea because it’s full of antioxidants. It might take a few extra cups to get enough caffeine, but more liquids are good for you as well! As it gets colder, I’ll sip cup after cup of green tea throughout the day at the office. It’s so warm and comforting! My absolute favorite is this jasmine green tea. If you want something more floral and fruity, this tea is AMAZING. I decided to try it when my sister took me to afternoon tea at The Plaza Hotel in NYC for my birthday last year, and I immediately ordered it when I got home.
- Hydrate – Drink more water! I drink over the suggested 8 glasses a day, but I know not everyone likes plain water. How about LaCroix? Or add slices of lemon or pieces of fruit for extra flavor. I also love caffeine-free teas, like Rooibos (a red tea). It is also chock full of antioxidants.
- Eat less sugar – We should be eating fewer unhealthy foods overall, but that can be really challenging when we’re busy and stressed. Plus we have to live a little during the holidays! There are a lot of studies that show sugar specifically depresses your immune system and increases inflammation. Yikes! It’s also highly addictive. For me, not eating desserts is much easier than giving up burgers and french fries, perhaps because I’ve weaned myself off of a sugar dependency? I feel like I can still make smarter choices like an omelette at brunch instead of pancakes, or a glass of red wine at happy hour instead of a sugary cocktail without feeling like I’m missing out. However, if you must have your apple cider and pumpkin flavored dessert, try eating less of something else instead (carbs, dairy, gluten, etc).
- Apple cider vinegar – Speaking of apple cider, did you know a single cup has over 27g of sugar? The American Heart Association recommends that women consume under 25g in a day. And this is apple cider – isn’t it supposed to be somewhat healthy? Yeesh. But I digress – we’re talking about apple cider vinegar. Many people swear by its “magical” properties (lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar, kill bacteria, relieve congestion, cure sore throats, etc). The problem is, I HATE the taste and the smell. At the first sign of a cold, if I can manage to choke down a few tablespoons, I absolutely feel better the next day. Some people don’t mind mixing it with hot water, lemon and honey, but I still can’t stand it. Then I found out about apple cider vinegar capsules, which is powdered, dehydrated apple cider vinegar in pill form. Tasteless! I take a few every day.
- Take multivitamins, probiotics, and zinc – It’s hard to eat such a perfect diet that you get all the nutrients you need on a daily basis. I make sure I take a multivitamin every day as well as a probiotic (a healthy gut is important for a good immune system). Also, I take zinc tablets when I feel like people around me are sick, or I feel a sniffle coming. Zinc is supposed to be more effective than Vitamin C. Word of caution…make sure you take it with food/on a full stomach…otherwise, you might get a stomach ache.
- Eat raw garlic – I love garlic. I’m so glad Chris loves garlic too, so we can cancel out each other’s garlic breath. I incorporate garlic into all of our dinners. If I feel a sore throat coming, I chop up several cloves of raw garlic and mix it in my salad (I’ve also gone as far as popping a raw clove into each bite of food). Often, my sore throat is gone by the next morning, likely due to garlic’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. If you can’t stand garlic, check out these supplements.
- Wash hands religiously (and sanitize around you) – I wash my hands after touching door knobs and elevator buttons. Also, I will shower at night, especially if I’ve been around sick people all day. Sneezes travel far! I also regularly clean my laptop keyboard and mouse, and most importantly, my phone. Think about how often you touch your phone! I use a wet wipe, or a squirt of hand sanitizer on a paper towel.
- Exercise…? – I’ve said before that I hate exercise. On top of that, gyms can be so germ-y. However, it’s important to move around. Especially in the fall, I try to walk to work…I also get to avoid trains and buses which can be full of sneezing and coughing people. When flu season seems to be particularly bad, I’ll do YouTube workouts in my living room instead of going to studios.
- Chicken soup from scratch – This is my magic potion in that it always makes me feel better. When people around me are sick, I boil a whole chicken in a pot of water with salt, a whole onion, and a knob of ginger for a couple of hours. Strain. Drink. (Or mix with vegetables, rice, noodles). I also like to add turmeric, which is ant-inflammatory. If you don’t want to work with a whole chicken, boil a package of drumsticks or chicken thighs. Or, for a shortcut, boil the remains of a rotisserie chicken for a couple hours! Even easier, throw the chicken in the slower cooker!
Please share your tips as well! Here’s to a healthy fall!