Six tips to avoid catching a cold or flu over the holidays

It seems as though nearly everyone catches a cold or flu over the holiday season (between December and February). Most people are of the opinion that this is a natural state of affairs, and unavoidable. This is simply not true!

There are many ways to avoid these debilitating and depressing afflictions. Follow the tips below and significantly reduce your odds of becoming ill during the winter months.

1. Avoid sugar. As hard as this might be during the holidays, sugar is the #1 reason people fall ill! Sugar impacts your immune system and makes you more prone to disease. If you can’t go without sweets and desserts during this time, try to significantly reduce the amount you do eat and choose a few specific times you will indulge. Daily sweets will surely impact your health, so avoid those daily chocolate hits at the office!

2. Get adequate sleep. When your sleep is impacted through stress or a busy lifestyle, your immune system is weakened. You should actually sleep a little longer through the night during the winter months, so do attempt to maintain your sleep schedule during the holidays and resist cutting back on your sleeping hours.

3. Don’t stuff yourself. When you overeat, your liver is forced to work extra hard, and this can lead to you getting sick. It might be tempting to eat more than necessary, but try to resist. Another reason to avoid overeating is the fact that gluttony leads to weight gain, because any energy your body doesn’t use gets stored as fat. Stick with smaller meals more often through the day and don’t be pressured into eating “just a little bit more.” Avoid falling into the trap of filling up on appetizers before a meal. Think about what you’re eating and don’t overdo it with alcohol.

4. Reduce stress and prioritize. Prioritize and plan your work and daily activities so that you don’t try to overdo it. When you become overwhelmed and stressed out, your immune system suffers and makes you more susceptible to colds and flu. Try yoga or meditation, or any other relaxing activity (a nice hot bath or alone time) for 20-30 minutes a day where you don’t have to rush around or be anywhere specific.

5. Cook with coconut oil. For a long time, coconut oil was the preferred cooking oil in North America, until the vegetable oil industry spread false rumors about its health benefits. Recent studies prove that coconut oil is healthy and keeps our immune systems strong. Coconut oil is a healthy form of saturated fat. Eat a couple teaspoons of coconut oil each day (in cooking or in a smoothie) to help maintain health.

6. Work out. If you can’t get in both your aerobic and weight lifting workouts and need to skip one, make sure you skip your anaerobic activity rather than your aerobic one. Anaerobic activities like sprints or weight lifting actually add more stress to the body and it is beneficial to skip these types of workouts occasionally to give your body a break. An otherwise stressful time of year like the holidays is the perfect time to give your body this type of break.

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