Happy Hump Day, everyone! I hope you are all staying safe and healthy as we continue to try and get a grip on the “new normal” that is life these days and the foreseeable future! And if you happen to live on the east coast as I do, I hope you’re not going out of your ever-loving mind with the weather we’ve been dealing with lately…it’s gotta get better at some point, right?!?
I wrote last week about ways to stay healthy during COVID-19. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break each of those down and talk about how to focus specifically on each one.
The first was to eat nutrient dense foods. It’s crazy how much affect what we eat has on our health. It’s obvious to pretty much everyone that when we eat unhealthy things like processed foods, trans fats, and too much sugar that we’re going to feel crappy. I don’t think, however, that it’s as obvious to everyone how much the opposite is true – when we eat nutritious foods, we will feel better. We just have to learn what foods carry the biggest bang for our buck and then we need to make a point to eat them.
Immune health is dependent on nutrition health!
Truth!! We have so much control over both physical and mental health and it’s really so simple! Nutrition health isn’t about crazy fad-diets…it’s just about making informed choices about what you’re putting into your body. I’ll be the first one to admit that although changing eating habits might not be complicated, it is most certainly not easy! But if you know what nutrients will make a difference and what foods that provide those nutrients, things get a whole lot easier. The awesome part is that when your body is getting these nutrients on the reg, your immune system will be stronger and better equipped to fight off COVID-19 and anything else that comes your way.
So, what’s it gonna take?
There are many different nutrients critical for different functions of the body, but today I’m focusing on the the big ones for immune health. This chart details the key nutrients we need and also foods that are good sources of each nutrient – the best part is that most of the foods are common, everyday things most people (and kids) will eat:
Use this chart as a guide to help you focused on eating the foods with these nutrients. Of course, there are other foods that are good sources of these nutrients, but I tried to stick to some of the more common ones. You don’t have to eat everything on this list everyday, but I do suggest making a point to eat at least one from each square to ensure you’re getting a good variety. Start with baby steps…find one item you like from each block and eat it everyday, working your way up to choosing several from each block. Making them into snacks is an easy way to get into the habit of eating them regularly…
- make a trail mix using pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts, raisins, almonds, dark chocolate chips,
- dip a banana in almond butter,
- cut up carrots and eat them with some hummus (chickpeas)…
The possibilities are endless!
This chart is a great guide for kids too, particularly picky eaters because most kids will eat at least something from each block (besides liver…yuck!). If you’re worried about what they might be missing from their diet (I feel your pain, BTW), pick out foods from this list you can get them to eat and give it to them everyday. It’s going to help keep them healthy, happy and I would bet it’ll have them sleeping better, too!
All of the blocks of the chart are important, but there are two that I believe to be “non-negotiable” for everyone: the top left and the bottom right. Please, please, please, make it a priority to get outside every single day, even if it’s just to sit on your deck to enjoy the sunshine AND drink half your weight in ounces of water daily…your body and mind will thank you for doing both!
Good nutrition is the foundation of healing.
I can’t overstate how much control we have over our health – we don’t hear that enough. Simply by making a few changes to our diet and making better choices at least most of the time, we can make a huge difference in how we feel. I feel a bit like a broken record with this one, but I speak from experience. I was very specifically “informed” that what I ate would not make any difference in the progression of my disease and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Incremental changes I’ve made over the years have completely changed my life – and I honestly would never have thought that was possible before actually doing it. I don’t have a perfect diet – I drink wine, eat chocolate (dark, gluten free, dairy free of course!) and I even succumb to my craving for French fries now and then – but I do make sure I eat foods that provide these nutrients every single day. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes.
We need to remember that the body is designed to function optimally and heal itself. Providing these key nutrients will allow it to do just that.