Hi, I’m Captain Cough, one of the four Children’s Flu Fighters. First, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year as many of you head back to school and work this week. Second, I’d like to remind you that Children’s Flu Fighters (Missy Clean, Super Sneeze, the R & R Kid and I, Captain Cough) are working hard to protect your children and you from colds and flu. As we kick off 2010, I thought I would share some great advice our friend Jessica Balliet, RD, CD, a clinical dietitian at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin put together recently:

We’re equipped with an immune system that helps fight germs that make us sick, but sometimes – especially during cold and flu season – we need a little extra help.

Eating healthy foods ensures that we get the nutrients we need to stay healthy and in tip-top shape. Making good food choices is always a good idea, but it is even more important when our bodies are working overtime to keep us healthy.

Remember that how we eat is as important as what we eat.  Washing your hands before and after you prepare or eat food helps make sure germs don’t make their way into your body.

Here are some other things to remember:

  1. Eat breakfast. Breakfast is a great energy booster for your day. It also lets you stockpile crucial vitamin C with a glass of orange juice, an orange or even a half of a grapefruit. Eating whole-grain cereals or breads helps keep your immune system churning with vitamin E and zinc.  Add some low-fat dairy, and you’ll get some protein to help boost your immune system.
  2. Sip soup. There’s a reason some tried and true methods are used year after year. Chicken soup (or any vegetable soup) is a classic winter meal and always will be at the top of the list. Its warm broth is soothing and it helps reduce the inflammatory symptoms of cold and flu. Combined with its vitamin-packed veggies, it’s a flu fighter in a bowl!
  3. Snack on fruits and vegetables. Loading up on fruits and veggies is a great way to get the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients you need to keep your immune system healthy. Try them fresh, frozen, canned or cooked … cut-up, chopped, mashed or whole … on their own or with a dip … just make sure to include these flu fighters every day!
  4. Drink plenty of fluids. Water, water, water!  Stay hydrated and avoid sugary and caffeinated beverages. Some juice has vitamin C, but remember that a little goes a long way … stick to 4 – 8 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice per day.
  5. Everything in moderation. Above all, remember that moderation is key. Preparing well-balanced and varied meals all year round is one of the best ways to stay healthy.  Eating the right amount of well-balanced and varied meals is a big part of staying healthy.  Check out MyPyramid.gov for more information for you and your family.

For more great flu fighting tips and activity sheets for kids, visit Children’s Flu Fighters. Thanks, and have super hero healthy 2010.

— Captain Cough

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