Christina Leon shares with us her top tips for keeping her children and family well over winter.
There are so many things I love about winter, snuggling up on the sofa under a big warm blanket with my daughter and dogs, a good book and a cup of healthy hot chocolate. Being all rugged up in my winter coat and boats and going for long walks at our local beach with my family on a crisp winters day. And cooking hearty homemade vegetable soups and casseroles for the family.
But along with the colder temperature comes a few not so fun things….yes, the dreaded cold and flu season.
I know for many parents, including myself this can be a stressful time of the year. Sick children can mean numerous trips to the doctors, taking medication, sleepless nights, time off school, missing out on activities, having to take time of work….There is nothing worse as a parent than seeing your usually happy, energetic child sick and miserable.
So I would like to share my top 6 tips for helping to keep your children (and yourself) healthy over winter. These are my winter wellness tips I personally use in my home and by following these simple steps you can give yourself and your kids the best chance of staying well, and healthy during these cooler months.
1. Eat The Rainbow:
During winter we want to ensure our children are still eating a very balanced diet, including lots of nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables (include lots of dark leafy greens, yellow and red vegetables), organic lean protein (plant based also such as legumes, organic tofu and tempeh), organic whole grains, nuts and seeds. These foods are high in antioxidants, zinc, iron, omegas and vitamin C; vitamins and nutrients that are essential over winter to support energy levels and a strong healthy immune system. My key tips to eating well over winter include:
- Making lots of healthy soups, casseroles and stir fries and loading them with seasonal vegetables for dinner. If your children don't tend to enjoy vegetables, you can grate them into your cooking.
- Start the morning with a healthy bowl of porridge using organic rolled oats, your favourite milk and top with frozen or fresh fruits. I also suggest adding in some superfood blends for added vitamins and minerals - maca powder is my favoruite.
- Prepare your children a smoothie after school loaded with fruit. It's easy to sneak in some spinach and kale leaves for added goodness too - they will never taste it
- Ensure your children are snacking on lots of immune supporting snacks throughout the day such as sliced oranges, blueberries, chopped veggie sticks such as carrots and capsicums, probiotic yoghurt, nuts and seeds.
- Limit sugar intake and ‘comfort’ foods. It’s easy to fall into the trap of eating unhealthy food and too much refined sugar over winter.
Here's a simple recipe for an immune supporting smoothie:
1 Tbsp. flaxseed oil
1 large handful of spinach & kale leaves
1 cup frozen organic mixed berries
½ chopped apple
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1 scoop of kids super greens powder (optional)
1 cup organic milk or plant base milk
Add all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
And, some healthy winter bars, perfect for afternoon tea:
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup apricots
1/4 cup goji berries
1/2 cup shredded coconut
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
Add almonds into a food processor until quite coarse. Place the almonds aside in a bowl.
Add all remaining ingredients into the food processor and process until mixture comes together.
Add the ingredients from the food processor into the ground almonds.
Mix well and shape into bars and store in the fridge.
2. Rest and Sleep:
Make sure your children and yourself are getting plenty of rest and quality sleep during the colder months. If your little ones (or yourself) are tired and rundown they will be more susceptible to colds and viruses.
Ensuring a good night’s sleep is the key to drastically improving everyones wellbeing over winter. My key tips to a good night sleep include:
- Establish a good bedtime routine by making sure your children go to bed and wake at the same time everyday, this will help regulate their internal body clock. Developing a good sleep routine = happy children (and happy parents).
- Diffuse calming essential oils such as lavender at bedtime. Try spraying some lavender on your child’s pillow or favourite soft toy or rub a drop of lavender with fractioned coconut oil on their chest or on the soles of their feet before sleep time. This will ensure a restful and peaceful sleep for everyone.
3. Take Good Quality Vitamins:
Over winter it can be a great idea for everyone to take vitamins and supplements to support immunity and overall wellbeing. As a family, we take zinc and vitamin C.
Here's one of my favoruite recipes for a home made juice, loaded with Vitamin C:
2 organic carrots
2 organic oranges
1 organic lemon
1 slice of ginger
Juice all ingredients through a juicer and enjoy.
4. Wash your hands
This one may seem obvious but it is very helpful to keep germs at bay. It will also help stop the spread of any nasty bugs that might be about.
Ensure your children wash there hands after returning from school or preschool, before eating, after using the bathroom, blowing their nose or playing out side.
I also suggest keeping a natural hand sanitiser in your bag for when out and about (especially at playgrounds) and there are no convenient bathrooms to wash your hands.
5. Get enough vitamin D
Getting out in the fresh air and sunlight is essential to your wellbeing over winter. Make sure you and your kids still get out outside most day and enjoy the few rays of sun that we still get in these colder months. Vitamin D deficiency can be a direct result of lack of sunlight. My key tips for a top up on vitamin D include:
- Wrap up warm and on a crisp but sunny winters day and head out for a long walk with the family.
- Take a vitamin D supplement. Huckleberry have a good selection, and you can chat to one of their qualified naturopaths the supplements that might be right for you.
6. Airing The House:
A few minutes a day of fresh air by opening your windows through your main living areas can work wonders to help keep bacteria and viruses from staying stagnant in your home.
I also like to get my essential oil diffuser oil going throughout the day with essential oil blends such as On-Guard (Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf), which is a powerful proprietary blend that supports a healthy immune function and contains cleansing properties.