Getting sick is a natural part of life, but it’s no less of a burden when things need to get done. Be on the mend faster with these 3 insightful rules.
BY: TARYN SCHUBERT, RD
Everyone hates being sick.
It feels like your body has betrayed you when you have a thousand things to do. Unfortunately being sick is something that happens to us all, especially during the winter months.
Here are some tips to help you get through the sick season:
NOURISH WITH THE ESSENTIALS
It’s just as important to nourish your body before you’re sick as it is when you’re sick. Consistently maintaining a healthy diet ensures that your immune system is provided with everything it needs to fight off infections when they happen. That means making sure you’re getting a healthy balance of all your essential nutrients, and not just going crazy with Vitamin C supplements when you start to get that tickle in the back of your throat.
Your body can only absorb a finite amount of each nutrient at a time. Overloading yourself with Vitamin C and other supplements while you’re sick just means that you’re making each toilet flush a lot more expensive!
Some of the most common nutrient deficiencies that put us at higher risk of being sick are Vitamin C, folate (folic acid), iron, Vitamin D, and zinc. Although it’s uncommon to see diseases of full-blown deficiencies, like scurvy (Vitamin C) or rickets (Vitamin D), these are all nutrients that people may already have lower levels from an unbalanced diet. All of these are nutrients that play a role in keeping our immune system strong and our body functioning like it is supposed to. When nutrient levels are low, your body has to make executive decisions while it’s in a weakened state. That’s why it’s so important to consume adequate amounts of nutrients before you’re actually sick!
EAT ENOUGH TO SATISFY YOUR APPETITE
Many people lose their appetite when they are sick. If you don’t monitor your intake carefully, you may end up not eating as much as you normally do.
You may think you’re inactive and lying in bed all day long. However, your body is fighting a strenuous battle on the inside, and it’s important you provide it with the energy it needs to do that. There is a specific amount of calories your body requires just to keep you alive. When you’re sick, there are additional caloric needs to keep your immune system strong. It’s important to try and eat as much as you do when you’re healthy.
LAY OFF THE WORKOUTS
For people who are training regularly, getting sick can feel like a huge setback. You’ve probably heard the general rule of thumb: if your symptoms are below the neck (chest congestion, body aches, nausea, vomiting, etc.), you need to stay home from the gym until you’re better. For anything above the neck (runny nose, scratchy throat, headache, sinus congestion), you’re good to go.
However, there’s no need to go all out, and it’s certainly not the time to be setting PRs. If you’re going to lift; lift lighter than you normally do. If you’re going to run or swim; keep it at a moderate pace. It’s so important to listen to your body.
If you have above the neck symptoms and are feeling really tired, take that hour you planned for the gym and take a nap. I promise, a week or two off from illness will not negate all the progress you’ve made. But training or overtraining when your body is weak has the potential to cause long-term damage.
And last but not least, have some tea with honey, wash your hands, eat your fruits and vegetables, and get enough sleep!
HEADER IMAGE: RICHARD TILNEY BASSETT
Taryn Schubert, RD is a Los Angeles-based Registered Dietitian who helps people create healthy diets that fit their lifestyle. With her specialty in adult weight management and mindful eating, Taryn believes food should be a source of joy and nourishment, not “good” or “bad” in the way society perpetuates.