Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

December 29, 2014 | Christine Hradek


How are you feeling today? I hope you are feeling well and that you will enjoy a winter without having a cold or the flu.

Unfortunately, I am not feeling so well, I am fighting a cold that my daughter, son, and husband have already had. I tried my best to prevent it. I made sure that we were all washing our hands. I made sure that everyone was getting enough sleep. I made sure that we were eating healthy meals. I tried everything I could think of, but we all got sick. There are still things I can do to help us get well soon.

Here are the top five things I do to prevent getting sick or, if we do get sick, to help us get better fast:

  1. Wash hands frequently. Washing hands correctly (see the steps here) is the best way to stop germs from spreading from one person to another. Wash hands after wiping noses, coughing, going to the bathroom, and before every meal and snack.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids. Most people need to drink at least eight cups of fluids every day. When we are sick, we need even more, especially if we have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting. Choose fluids that taste good and are soothing to you. I usually choose hot tea because it feels good on my dry, scratchy throat and I like the taste of it. My husband and children prefer 100% fruit juice when they are sick.
  3. Eat fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that can help our immune systems fight off germs.
  4. Eat chicken noodle soup. Eating chicken noodle soup when sick has many benefits. The warm broth soothes a sore throat and provides fluids. The vegetables and whole grain noodles supply or bodies with vitamins and minerals. The chicken is a lean protein that can help our immune systems. I try to make a large batch of chicken noodle soup and then freeze it in smaller containers so it is ready to go when I am sick and not feeling like cooking. Spend Smart. Eat Smart has a wide variety of soup recipes.
  5. Get plenty of sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Children need more. When we are sick, we need even more sleep than usual to heal. It is ok to call in sick to work or school to get some extra rest when sick. This has an added bonus of not spreading your germs on to your friends and co-workers.

I hope you enjoy a happy, healthy new year!

– Justine

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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