How to Survive Series: Cold & Flu Season

I’m a summer girl at heart.

Sunshine, swimsuits, longer days and warmer nights, vibrant colors and daily outside activities are the ingredients of my ideal life.

When the air starts to get cold and the leaves fall off the trees, my seasonal anxiety goes into full force. Sure, fall is pretty and whatever- but all I am thinking of is November 1st, the unofficial start to Cold & Flu season; it always hits me like a ton of bricks.

When you have three young kids in daycare and a husband that is a teacher, you know sickness is almost inevitable.

Or is it?

My winter-hate has fueled my research and I have come up with a list of ways you can use to keep yourself and your family healthy during Cold & Flu season! For my family- these work every time!

*I am not a doctor. This blog is not designed to and does not provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual. The information provided in this site, or through linkages to other sites, is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and you should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation or the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider. All opinions are based on my own research and observation.

coldandflu

Probiotics Probiotics are my favorite little critters in the entire world! Probiotics are super trendy right now- but for good reason! The research backs the many benefits of consuming quality probiotics on a daily basis. Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your health and specifically your digestive system. Much of this bacteria is naturally found in your body and adding a probiotic supplement can help fight the ‘bad’ bacteria in your system and keep your stomach environment balanced.  Probiotics can be found naturally in many different foods, especially fermented foods and various dairy products. Probiotics have even been shown to improve skin conditions like eczema, allergies, oral health, and the prevention of colds!

Some of my favorite foods that include probiotics are: yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, miso soup, tempeh, dark chocolate, and algae.

It is important to find a quality probiotic supplement and my suggestion is probiotics that you have to keep in the refrigerator; these seem to be evident of higher quality. My family uses Jarrow probiotics- they are widely reviewed as high-quality probiotics and they even made several options for kids! You can obtain Jarrow from most health-food stores or online- just make sure they will ship them cold!

Baby's Jarro-Dophilus
Baby’s Jarro-Dophilus

Hand Washing- Wash your hands. All the time. Period. Wash them when you get home. Wash them after you go to the bathroom. Wash them before you eat. This is such a simple way to prevent illness! I read somewhere that your hands are dirtier than the inside of your mouth! That being said- I avoid touching my eyes, nose or mouth if I have not washed my hands.

Clean Eating + Greens  As the old adage goes, you are what you eat! Okay, so this one is pretty obvious. 75% of your immune system is in your gut! If you are eating well and getting all of the recommended daily vitamins and nutrients, your chances of getting sick go way down. Nutrient-rich food over processed food is going to have a profound impact on your overall health.

During the winter months I try to cram as much spinach down my family’s throats as possible. I put spinach in their smoothies, I serve spinach salad each night, and I like to finely chop spinach and hide it in various things like tomato sauce or lasagna. My kids- as most normal kids go- are not too keen on eating spinach. But when it is hidden in a smoothie or their favorite tomato sauce, they have no idea! Mom gets a point!

Here are some other immune boosting foods: yogurt (we eat this every day, no exceptions), oats & barley, garlic, bone broth, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, citrus, red bell peppers, broccoli, ginger, almonds, turmeric, green tea.

Apple Cider Vinegar A quick internet search will give you several uses of apple cider vinegar- this stuff is liquid gold! My husband and I have two teaspoons per day and the kids have one teaspoon per day. You can mix it with water or juice, drink it like a shot, or mix it with honey (this method is preferred when you have a sore throat!). Apple cider vinegar has been shown to be a weight-loss tool as it boosts your metabolism; it also helps lower your blood sugar level, contains iron, calcium, and potassium, and helps keep germs in our bodies under control!

We take it to ward of ailments; ACV puts your stomach in an alkaline state and many viruses and bacteria have a tough time in a non-acidic stomach! My favorite brand is Bragg’s because they contain ‘the mother’- strands of enzymes and proteins and friendly bacterial. You can find Bragg’s at most grocery stores.

Bragg's ACV
Bragg’s ACV

Essential Oils- I used to be a skeptic of this one. Now, I am so convinced of their immune-boosting capabilities that I sell oils for an awesome EO company (email me at ericaln26@gmail.com if you’re interested in learning more!). Essential oils are naturally obtained by distillation of plants and other natural sources and have been used for thousands of years to heal naturally. You can use the oils aromatically, topically, or internally.

My family mainly diffuses germ-fighting oil blends during the winter and applies them topically to ward of ailments (soles of the feet and spine of the back). I personally use lavender daily as a calming agent through the winter. The oils have the added perk of always making your house smell great!

Exercise- It is hard to get your exercise in during the winter- but it is oh-so-important for keeping yourself healthy! Exercise improves your mood, boosts your energy and significantly strengthens your immune system. I make my kids go outside and run around for at least 30 minutes a day. If there is snow on the ground or it is bitterly cold (as it usually is in the deep winter months in Nebraska) I still make them go outside. They have hats, they have gloves, they have coats- they can handle the cold! Exercising even just 20 minutes per day has been shown to have dramatic health benefits and I notice that my kids sleep better when they have had a significant amount of outside time.

There you have it folks- a few simple ways to keep yourselves healthy during this Cold & Flu season!

Until next time,

Erica

How to Survive Series: Fantasy Football Season

I used to love August.

It is the month of my birth, it is back-to-school shopping, it is still so warm outside, and hey- it is National Goat Cheese month (I love me some goat cheese).

Now August is a drag. Not only is August the ‘Sunday of Summer’, August is the month that my husband starts setting up his multiple Fantasy Football drafts and leagues.

UGH

January thruJuly go by and I nearly forget about the trials and tribulations of living with a Fantasy Football-obsessed man during the fall.

My husband normally has at least three leagues that he participates in, and these leagues are no joke. They are about as serious as Fantasy Football can get. At the beginning of August (sometimes even late July -yikes) the group texts start. Group texts are almost as unbearable as Fantasy Football itself. His buddies & him text about the new rules of the league, who had better luck in their mock draft, whether they should do a keeper league and who they are going to keep this year, and the shortcomings of the commissioner. What should trade rules be this year? Should we adjust points in the various categories? Who is injured? Who is a sleeper-pick? Etc etc. This is all really serious business, too. Even with the wonders of the Internet and all of its capabilities, it is a requirement for the Fantasy Footballers to get together in a 4 hour long draft to make their expert decisions while binging on pizza and deciding the all-important draft order. If someone decides to auto draft they are basically screwed and ostracized by the other group members.

Now, I fully realize that I could be getting a lot of the FF terminology incorrect. After all- I am simply an observer of the obsessive-ness that occurs in my house, and many houses with the approaching Fantasy Football season.

Pre-marriage I was totally supportive of my husband and his dealings and his leagues. I would even ask him about his strategy of who to bench and who to play. This was when I was all about being the best girlfriend ever! Now, and especially having kids- unless you’re making a monetary gain off of this stuff- I do not want to hear about it!

Survive

That being said- Fantasy Football continues to dominate our house… so rather than fight the phenomenon, I have come up with some strategies to survive Fantasy Football season. Thus far, I am half way through the season and people- it is bearable.

  1. Earplugs/Headphones– These are a must. Most of your Thursday nights, Sunday days and nights, and Monday nights will be filled with the sound of announcers getting overly-excited about a bunch of tough guys throwing an odd-shaped ball around. The same plays happen over and over, yet it is still somehow novel and exciting. On those 4 glorious days that NFL football is not on TV- my husband manages to make sure his Matthew Berry podcast is on full volume- you know, just in case the house was missing football action. Headphones provide a solution. First, they are to be utilized on football nights and days; buy an audiobook, download an interesting podcast, or listen to some music! The football-er will still be happily watching football and you won’t have to hear a single word of it! Also- when he starts to blare Berry, offer the headphones as gift to him. Problem solved! And hey, if you don’t want any noise at all- ear plugs, a hot bath & a glass of merlot will do the trick.
  2. Bacon– Bacon is the fad these days. Let’s face it, bacon has always been a fad. Pretty much everything in the world tastes a tad better when you add bacon to the mix. Even the recent reports that charred bacon is a carcinogen and causes cancer is most likely not going to remove the cool factor from bacon. What doesn’t cause cancer these days? Bacon can also be an effective survival tool for Fantasy Football season. I recommend brunching on Sundays and including bacon as your main dish. You will need to start cooking about 20 minutes before the first game so you can fill the kitchen with the smell of delicious bacon. If your football-nut is like my husband, the smell of a gourmet bacon meal will lure them away from anything that is on the TV. While said football-nut is enjoying that bacon, take the opportunity to switch the channel to HGTV or something not annoying. The football-nut can’t even be mad because you JUST made a delicious brunch with bacon as the main course! Stay tuned for bacon recipes to come.
  3. Guilt Factor– The first few weeks of Fantasy Football is not the time to use the guilt factor. The season just started, an early win or loss can set the tone of the season and give you a read on your team, and the excitement of the new season beginning is just too intense. However, by about week 4 or 5, you can definitely start guilt-tripping your football-lover into spending more time with you. Use phrases like, “All you ever think of is football and not me!” or “I made you that exquisite brunch with bacon and you have yet to show me appreciation in the form of time!”, and if you’re playing dirty “Everything I do is to better our relationship, everything you do is to better your football team.. who did you make vows to?!”. Only you know the best way to guilt-trip your football-fan… number three should be easy.
  4. Join ’em & Beat ’em– Last but not least, the most effective way to survive any Fantasy Football season is by joining a league yourself. You do not need to know anything about football or the players to be successful at Fantasy Football. Many people would disagree with my statement; but as someone who has won her league in her inaugural year, I stand by this statement. Of the 17 match-ups I have had with my husband over the past 6 years, he has only beaten me twice. 2/17! If you want to get your football-fan to stop talking about football 24/7, all you need to do is beat them in the weekly match-up and they will shut right up! You can add some music to your morning alarm the next morning as a reminder of your football-prowess; I suggest Queen’s We Are the Champions, it works like a charm. In addition, having a team of your own will make football slightly more bearable. In your quest to win, you will find the players a bit more interesting and find yourself actual rooting (gasp) for certain teams, QBs, kickers, defenses -etc. This will making your football-fan so happy; you will be doing something together! Maybe there will not be as much football talk if you can school your football-fan in a match-up? It is all about survival here, folks.

Remember, January is right around the corner! Stay strong!

Until next time,

Erica