Eat Healthier for Flu Prevention | This West Coast Mommy
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Eat Healthier for Flu Prevention

When you think flu prevention, you might think of immunization first, but that’s not the only tool we have for staying healthy. It’s also important to wash your hands, get enough sleep, stay hydrated, stay active, and eat whole, nutritious foods to keep your immune system strong and able to fight off viruses throughout the cold and flu season.

I had a chance to chat with the registered dietitian at my local Superstore, Brittany Thomas, MHSc, to discover the best foods to focus on this time of year for a healthy immune system.

  1. Think orange when you’re shopping in the produce section. Orange fruit like citrus, grapefruit, oranges, and mangoes are rich in vitamin C, and orange veggies like sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, and bell peppers (all colours) are high in vitamin A. Did you know that bell peppers are a better source of vitamin C than even oranges?
  2. Legumes like beans and lentils provide fiber and zinc necessary for normal immune function, energy metabolism, and growth. For those of us who avoid beans or pulses, high-quality meats and seafood (especially shellfish) are also excellent sources of zinc, and many fruit and vegetables also provide fiber. Good sources include raspberries, blackberries, pears, apples, avocados, artichokes, peas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
  3. Nuts and seeds provide protein, fiber, and vitamin E, a dietary antioxidant that helps in the maintenance of good health. Almonds and hazelnuts are great sources of vitamin E, but limit portions to 1/4 cup. Looking for a tasty nut and seed snack? Try this grain-free granola made with almonds, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut, and flax seeds.
  4. Probiotics help moderate healthy immune function. You can find probiotics in yogurt (avoid added sugar) and in kefir (try adding kefir to your smoothies). If you don’t eat dairy, you can find probiotics in non-dairy sources like kombucha, sauerkraut, or fermented products like tempeh. Getting probiotics from food instead of probiotic supplements allows you to reap the benefit of other nutrients in the food, like protein and calcium.
  5. Protein is important for overall health and for building antibodies, so choose foods with plenty of protein like high-quality meats, seafood, eggs, milk, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

The team of 70 registered dietitians at Loblaws stores is an amazing resource for all of us wanting to prepare for cold and flu season with foods and recipes to promote good immune health. They answer your questions in store, on the phone, and via email. You can also book a consultation with your local dietitian to review your current health status, diet, and lifestyle and get evidence-based recommendations to help you meet your goals from meal planning ideas, help reading food labels, to how to order the healthiest options at a restaurant.

Dietitians also provide medical nutrition therapy. So if you or a family member has type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, celiac disease, food allergies, or other medical concerns, a dietitian can help you learn how to adjust your diet to meet all your nutritional needs within your personal parameters.

Got a picky eater? Brittany had some advice for parents with picky eaters too (I might know a little thing about that!). Role model the behaviour that you’d like to see. If you want your kids to eat more veggies, you should too. As difficult as it may be in the moment at the dinner table, avoid forcing, bribing, or using food as a punishment or a reward. Since it can take up to 10 exposures to a new food for a child to try it, just keep offering. Offer at least one food that you know your child will eat at every meal so they have something to eat, even if they’re not yet ready to try a new food.

Visit your local Loblaws or Superstore to book an appointment with an in-store registered dietitian for more information on foods that help support good overall and immune health during cold and flu season and year round.

Wash Your Hands

To limit the spread of germs, wash your hands frequently throughout the day. Teach your kids how to wash their hands properly too: with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, scrubbing the front, back, between their fingers, and under their nails.

Get Your Flu Shot

If you’ve ever had the flu, you don’t need anyone to tell you just how miserable it is. Flu symptoms start one to four days after being exposed to the virus and include feeling feverish, chills, headaches, sore throat, body and muscle aches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. The flu typically lasts seven to 10 days, but could persist for up to two or even three weeks. Flu season runs from November through to March/April, so right now is the best time to get vaccinated. Once vaccinated, protection will last roughly six months, but be aware that it can take up to two weeks for it to take effect.

According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, everyone should get the flu vaccine, but it’s most important for vulnerable individuals like seniors 65 years of age and older; healthy children 6 months to 5 years of age; healthy pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy; and children and adults with chronic medical conditions. Depending on how well the vaccine is matched to this year’s common viruses, 40-60% of flu cases can be avoided through vaccination.

Spending a few minutes getting vaccinated could save you 14 days of misery! Do your shopping and get your flu shot all at the same time when you visit your local Real Canadian Superstore.

Win a $100 President’s Choice Gift Card

I’m giving away a $100 President’s Choice gift card to one lucky family to help you start stocking up on healthy, nutritious food. Tell us what you do to help your family get through the flu season. Share your best flu prevention tips or your go-to comfort meal when you’re sick.

Click here to check out my other open giveaways and be sure to follow me on Facebook!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation. Nevertheless, all opinions in this post are completely honest and my own. Your experience may differ.

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  • We try to prevent colds/flus by getting lots of rest, washing hands, getting the flu shot, taking vitamins and eating a healthy diet! We also try to use hand sanitizer when needed! Our go-to comfort meal when sick is definitely chicken noodle soup made in the instant pot! Thank you very much for this chance! 🙂

  • Flu shots every year, and try to make sure we drink enough fluids. And are trying to instill good hand washing routine with our children.

  • i try to make sure we are eating healthy,cooking delicious soups and stews with lots of nutritious veggies, and take mutlivitamins!

  • We get our flu shot every year. I’ve also been insistent that my kids wash there hands regularly and they will always wash there hands when they enter a home. I feel proud when they walk into friends houses and go straight to the sink to wash hands without being asked.

  • I make up a big batch of homemade chicken noodle soup to get my family through the flu season. We take daily vitamins, wash our hands & use sanitizer, stay hydrated, get 8 hours of sleep daily, and try to avoid getting near sick people!

  • My flu prevention tip is to wash your hands frequently and if that is not possible, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. I also like to boost my immune system with daily Vitamin C and Cod Liver Oil.

  • Well to be honest i dont know if i should be giving anyone my advice because we just got over being sick and are sick again! Hand washing is a must that’s for sure.. but i think one prevention that all parents can and should do is to keep their kids home from school when they are sick because it spreads and spreads and you end up with a household of sickies for 4 weeks !

  • I try my best not to get sick by eating healthy, exercising and getting as much sleep and rest as possible. And if I happen to get sick, my go-to feel better meal is chicken noodle soup!

  • Wash your hands a lot. And you can’t beat cream of mushroom soup and hot buttered toast as a flu/cold comfort food.

  • Washing hands frequently, staying hydrated and getting lots of rest are some of the key things we try to get our kids and family members to do in addition to healthy eating.

  • When the flu season hits our home it is mom to the rescue with her homemade chicken noodle soup and lot’s of liquids to keep hydrated and the best of all is the hours of lovings 🙂

  • During flu season, my family needs to take greater care by bundling up and wearing warm winter coats and accessories. Also I need to support my system by going to bed when I feel tired, especially when clocks go back by an hour.

  • Been loving my instant pot for chicken soup – as long as you can stand long enough to get the ingredients into the pot, it literally cooks itself while you go lie down

  • We make a big effort to keep our hands away from our faces and soup is always a favourite here when we are under the weather.

  • I make sure that there are lots of tissue in the house. I make sure we have lots of fruits and veggies in the house and try make sure we get our sleep to keep our immune system healthy.

  • We get the flu shot every year and find that it helps a lot in preventing the flu and colds. We also practice good hygiene by washing our hands and I use Lysol wipes to clean the phones and things we touch on a daily basis. We take vitamins and eat healthy foods and get plenty of exercise and rest.

  • We got flu shots! We also wash our hands frequently especially after being outside the home. When we do get sick homemade chicken noodle soup is a must!

  • I have vitamin C on the kitchen counter and encourage everyone to take it daily.
    Even the 17 y/o takes it every day as he works very hard and does not want to miss work due to being sick.

  • As I sit here coughing, runny nose and sore throat, I plan on doubling my vitamin and fluid intake to hopefully help get better quicker.

  • In order to help my family get through the flu season we take a few very easy steps. We practice good handwashing techniques and always wash when we return home and before we eat. We take Immune C vitamins daily with zinc and echinacea. We take elderberry syrup and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. We wipe down surfaces that are frequently touched.

  • In order to prevent getting the flu we eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and make sure to wash our hands frequently. Soup is of course a favourite when sick.

  • We are very careful about washing our hands/using hand sanitizer. We also get our flu shots annually. When illness is rampant in our family, I make a big pot of chicken soup. It makes everyone feel better.

  • I make sure that everyone gets enough sleep. At this time of year, it is important to try to keep to a regular routine even with the holiday rush.

  • Wash your hands!!!! Often!!!
    Lol I’m on my daughter soon as she gets in from school..straight to the bathroom to degerm! Lol

  • Our go to food when we have the flu or a cold is a hot broth soup like chicken noodle. There is something about Liptons that just hits the spot although a home made broth would be more nutritious.

  • We wash our hands a lot and eat a lot of vitamin C laden fruit. I also stock herbal teas and honey, just in case of sore throats.