Winter family health tips
With the onset of winter, many of us will succumb to the usual round of coughs, colds and other viruses, but there are things we can all do to boost our immunity and keep as well as possible
They include eating well, keeping active and following the government advice on limiting the spread of viruses.
Watch your winter diet
It's a natural instinct to turn to hearty, stodgy foods in cold weather as we look for the comfort of warming, filling meals. Too often this means we increase our intake of fat and sugar, which will provide short-term energy boosts, but leave us flagging again soon after.
The key to great eating all year round is to opt for foods that release their energy slowly. These are said to have a low glycaemic index (GI), and include:
Wholemeal, wholegrain and wholewheat foods, including breads, cereals, rice and pasta.
Fibrous fruit and veg (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, peaches, pears, nectarines, dates)
Nuts and seeds
Peas and beans
Pulses and grains
A hearty, healthy stew or casserole could include some lean meat or poultry bolstered up by adding lentils, kidney beans, brown rice, chickpeas, pearl barley or couscous.
Jacket potatoes can be a great choice as long as you?re sparing with the butter and add some great protein like soft cheese, baked beans or canned tuna.
You can make wonderful fruit crumbles using fibrous fruits (see above) with a rolled oats topping, and served with natural yoghurt sprinkled with a few chopped nuts or seeds. Bananas wrapped in foil and baked in their skins are delicious served with low-fat fromage frais or ice cream.
You may not have the inclination to go out jogging, cycling or playing football in colder weather, but you could still enquire at your local leisure centre about booking a badminton court for a family match or going for a swim.
It might be a good time to find an exercise class like yoga, pilates or body conditioning, too, to combat the extra pounds that seem to creep on during the winter months.
You can combine fitness with family fun in your own home with the WiiFit Plus: it offers virtual team games and lots of other activities, so push back the coffee table and challenge your other family members.
Exercising in the early evening will help ensure you get a really good night's sleep, too, which is in itself a great way of boosting your immunity.
'Catch it, kill it, bin it'
You'll need to continue with the swine flu advice more vigilantly again now as the upsurge in the number of cases is expected to increase throughout winter. In any case, it can help prevent the spread of the common cold and other airborne viruses, so it's good practice all year round:
Catch it: Carry a supply of tissues with you so you can whip it out at the first sign of a sneeze and cover your mouth when you cough, too.
Kill it: Contain the bugs in your tissue by crumpling it up.
Bin it: Throw it away at the earliest opportunity, or keep it in a plastic bag until you can dispose of it. Wash your hands to prevent the spread of the germs.