As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of illnesses, like the flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever. There are many things we can do right now to help protect ourselves!
We know from the CDC, that there are certain underlying conditions that can increase the risk of contracting severe illness: being a smoker, overweight, hypertension, or diabetes can all contribute to complications. No matter what your condition, there are aspects of your health that you can control and starting with small steps in the right direction now can make a big difference!
Our Liberty HealthTrac program supports many of our members with similar underlying conditions to improve their long-term lifestyle habits. To help you navigate this upcoming cold and flu season, we discussed some simple health tips with a Registered Dietitian at GemCare Wellness, Meredith D’Angelo.
Incorporating some of her wellness ideas into your everyday routine, will help to protect yourself and loved ones from getting sick this fall:
Assess your lifestyle and determine
where you might need to make changes. Take an honest assessment of your overall
health and lifestyle habits. Physical activity, sleep, nutrition, stress
levels, hydration, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, or conditions
like diabetes are all areas to consider and examine.
Start small and don’t overwhelm yourself. You don’t need to overhaul your entire health in one day. Instead, find one area to focus on improving. Perhaps begin by walking 10 minutes a day, or substituting a bowl of ice cream or chips at snack time for something healthier and lower in calories. Small changes really do have a cumulative effect, and setting realistic goals will help set you up for success!
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. The right amount of sleep keeps you healthier. Sleep deprivation makes us more susceptible to weight gain, stress and illness. Most adults should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Simple changes like going to bed a bit earlier, limiting technology, reading a book and creating a relaxing routine to help wind down can help improve your sleep hygiene. Setting the stage for a night of restful sleep will benefit your entire health.
Losing weight doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. Making easy, healthier substitutions for the foods you’re craving means you can eat what you enjoy and stay healthy! Try mashing up a frozen banana for a delicious ice cream replacement, having a spoonful of peanut butter or Nutella in place of candy, substituting ground turkey for red meat, trying whole wheat or bean-based pasta, or opting for cauliflower crust on pizza. Eating healthy can taste good.
Make self-care a priority. When there is so much we can’t control, it is empowering to take control of what we can. Choose time for self-care and what you need to be your healthiest. Try to include a bit of relaxation and caring for yourself into your day and remember that making small, healthy changes in your diet or in your routine will make a difference!
To learn more about how you can take action against COVID-19 and this year’s flu season, you can refer to the CDC’s recommendations.