How To Strengthen Your Immune System for the Winter Season

As soon as the calendar changed from October to November, and daylight-saving time ended, the weather took a turn. Now we are officially in December, but there isn’t any picture-postcard weather just yet. Historically, November and early December have been cold and dismal in Montreal. Waking up in the dark for school and having dinner in the dark can wreak havoc on your mental state. Equally, colder weather lends itself to the feeling of wanting to stay indoors, eat carbs and not move very much.

And while the past nine months have been less of everything (exercise, sports, getting fresh air, socializing), there are a few things to do now to help you and your family handle the colder months ahead, mentally and physically. Bottom line is this winter season will be a tremendous challenge for us all and anything we can do to help ourselves is something we should consider adding into our lives.

This will not be easy. Let’s just say that right up front. I can tell you, as a mama working from home over the past decade, I am really fine staying in my comfy clothes, not moving very much and sneaking a snack in here and there. And as we all know, it is really hard to change a habit when it feels safe and familiar. I recently read that we should not be down on ourselves for being “lazy” or procrastinating. Instead, we should realize that our mental state has been in survival mode and that can be very draining. If you are wondering why you are forgetting things, or it takes longer to get certain tasks done, that could be the reason why. The good news is our bodies are amazing and we can help them get into better physical and mental shape with consistent and simple tasks.

Disclaimer: as always, these opinions are my own, and I am in no way a medical professional. I am a mama looking for solid ways to benefit my family. If I find information I feel is beneficial to my family, I want to share it with you as well. We’re all in this together!

Get the flu shot – I reached out to a high school friend of mine who just happens to be a Pediatric Hospitalist in Boston and her recommendations for the coming season are the following: 1. Get your flu shot 2. Get your flu shot 3. Get your flu shot 4. Stay home when sick 5. Follow distancing/masking guidelines 6. Wash hands.

If there was ever a year to get the flu shot, it is this year.

Move – I have never, ever, planned to run a marathon, but I would venture to say of all the years to help our body be ready for the winter months, maybe this is the year to imagine it as planning for a marathon. One app that has been suggested to me is Couch to 5K. A few of my friends swear by it, and it helped them plan for a marathon. This is truly a beginner’s guide to pumping your lungs and getting your body moving. And we need our lungs working well and our bodies strong. If this app isn’t your jam, just taking a walk for 30 minutes a day will be beneficial.

Vitamin D – You may have heard a lot about Vitamin D lately. Here in Canada, we cannot get enough to give us the benefits of vitamin D, so supplementing is the best thing to do for you and your family. We all take D-drops every day. Some articles have mentioned that people that have contracted the COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient and that higher levels can help combat the virus. While I have no solid evidence of that, I am still confident in giving the sunshine vitamin to my family to help regulate calcium and phosphate in the body, help fight the flu, and even depression.

Other supplements – Upon a quick research, other vitamins we need in our diet to make us feel better and boost our immune system are vitamin C, E, A, potassium, fiber, zinc and serotonin. It seems insurmountable when read like that, but many of these vitamins can be found in a healthy diet with colourful fruits and vegetables, fish, as well as fortified dairy.

Here are some great foods we have on hand now that we are desperately not wanting to get sick in any way:

Yogurt – better yet, Greek yogurt.

Berries – especially blueberries, but all berries are excellent.

Nuts – we have almonds, hazelnuts, cashews…they are a go-to now if we find them for a good snack.

Spinach – frozen or fresh, both are great.

Oranges –fresh oranges are best, but non-concentrated juice can work (we currently are taking a vitamin C supplement too).

Ginger – a simple addition to tea, smoothies, or soups. I have been getting a ginger boost drink from Lufa farms as well.

Clove – also a great taste in teas.

Do not underestimate the importance of water – lack of hydration can make you feel sluggish, and we don’t need more of that. I can guarantee to you that I am dehydrated. I’m upping my water drinking to help me out.

If you are looking for some healthy and vitamin-filled meals, here are some of our favourites. These are tried and true recipes you can whip up at home to help your family stay healthy:

Grandma MOE’s Chicken Soup

Spinach pesto

Butternut squash soup



Other choices for breakfast

Other things to consider

Have a plan – What would you do it your child should get sick? Do you have a system in place at home to immediately change your lifestyle for the rest of your family? A family plan is the first thing to have in check. Have the essentials on hand to take care of a sick child, so you don’t have to leave the home. For a list of essentials, you can check my post about this here.

Check in with your family’s mental state – we are all getting into a feeling of despair. Even in the best case, with a home and a family to care for, it is still lonely and scary to think of what the world is dealing with right now. Checking in with your children, your spouse and especially yourself is invaluable right now. I have always advocated for mental wellness and I feel in my heart this is what we all need to be mindful of now. If that means watching a goofy movie to change your mind, dancing in the middle of the living room, or having a good cry, do it.

Again, these are just a few suggestions that are helping my family prepare for winter and stay healthy and strong as best we can. I hope this helps you and your family. Do you have any tried and true foods or activities you do to help boost your immune system? Let me know below.

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