It’s fall y’all! Time for football games, fall festivals and all things pumpkin. Unfortunately it can also bring fatigue and cooties if we don’t keep these simple tips for a healthy fall season in mind.
Nutrition and wellness tips for a healthy fall season
For some people, remembering to drink water during the hotter months is easy, but when the colder months roll around we tend to forget to keep up with drinking water. Did you know that dehydration can cause fatigue, short term memory loss and irritability? Crazy huh how not drinking enough water can affect your mood.
A few simple tips that may help include:
- Use a water bottle with the ounces marked on the bottle
- Drink 1-2 cups of water in the morning with breakfast
- Make it tasty and add sliced fruits or mint leaves to your water
Fun fact: about 20% of our water comes from foods that we eat like lettuce, leafy greens, cucumbers, melon, berries and bell peppers. Another reason why it is important to eat our fruits and vegetables!
Increase physical activity
Fall brings pumpkin patches, fall festivals and other fun outdoor activities. Take advantage of this time of year by getting out and moving more. This can be a great way to include the entire family and it benefits everyone! Adults should engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week and children should engage in about 60 minutes per day of physical activity. This may sound like a lot, but hey, walking is included in these numbers!
Support your immune system with food
A balanced, healthy diet helps to give us the energy we need for the day and reduces the risk of illness. Minerals that help to support our immune system include iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc.
- Iron: beans, peas, raisins, meats, seafood, whole grains
- Magnesium: beans, peas, dairy products, nuts, bananas, whole grains
- Selenium: eggs, meats, nuts, seafood, whole grains, enriched pasta and rice
- Zinc: beans, peas, dairy products, nuts and whole grains
Vitamins that help to support our immune system include vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin A and vitamin B6. Vitamin D is found in eggs, fish and fortified foods like cereal, dairy products or orange juice.
- Vitamin A & E: spinach, broccoli, fortified cereals
- Vitamin B6: chickpeas, potatoes, salmon, tuna
- Vitamin C: peppers, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, kiwi, citrus fruits
If you look at the list you’ll see some of the same foods have the same nutrients. These are also some of the same foods that tend to be lacking in the American diet like nuts, seeds, beans, peas, seafood and adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables.
Take time for self-care
The busyness of life can sometimes cause us to forget to take care of ourselves. Be intentional about taking time out for yourself. Self-care can lower the risk of illness, reduce stress and increase energy.
Ways to help you take care of yourself:
- Take 5-10 minutes out of the day to step away and relax.
- Incorporate relaxing activities like journaling, meditation, prayer or breathing exercises. Apps can be very helpful for this.
- Practice gratitude by thinking about what you are grateful for and even replaying this in your mind at night.
- Learn to say “no”. You don’t have to feel obligated to commit to everything.
- Decide what’s a priority and what isn’t. What needs to be done now and what can wait?
- Stay connected to friends and family members who provide positive support.
The thing about self-care is that all the other tips mentioned in this article help too! Eating well, getting enough sleep and physical activity all contribute to self-care.
Maintain good oral health
Digestion starts in our mouth so it’s important to take care of it. Don’t let the busyness of the fall season keep you from maintaining good oral hygiene. Continue to floss daily to remove plaque and brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. You’ll also want to make and keep appointments with the dentist.
Get enough sleep
The fall season means getting back into the swing of things. We go from summer break to back to school with the kiddos. Getting enough sleep helps us to be productive and in a happier state of mind. Below are the sleep recommendations broken down by the age group.
Adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep
Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep
School aged children (ages 6-12) need 9-12 hours of sleep
Preschoolers (ages 3-5) need 10-13 hours of sleep (including nap time)
Source: Sleep Foundation
Knowing how much sleep we need is helpful, but putting together a plan to get that much sleep is even more important. A few simple tips that you can try are to keep the bedroom cool and dark, no coffee after 2pm, or try aromatherapy in the bedroom.
Practice good hand washing
Handwashing is one of the simplest ways to prevent the spread of germs. Germs can spread when you blow your nose, cough or sneeze into your hands and then touch other objects. They can spread when you touch your face, eyes and nose with unwashed hands. And they spread simply by touching surfaces that have germs on them. You can protect yourself, your family and others around you by washing your hands at key moments throughout the day. Here’s a list of when you should definitely wash your hands:
- After blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing into your hands
- After using the bathroom
- Before eating
- Before and after preparing your food
- After touching an animal, animal food or animal waste
- After changing a diaper
- After touching the garbage
Wash your hands for 20 seconds. To make this easy you can sing the “happy birthday” song twice. Using hand sanitizer can be ok when soap and water are not available. Hand sanitizer is not appropriate to use when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. Always use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.