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Prairie Fare: Steer Clear of the Flu, Colds This Season

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Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist
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No one enjoys feeling under the weather, so what can you do to help prevent colds and the flu?

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“Mom, how are you holding up?” my 17-year-old son asked.

“I’m feeling a little better,” I replied. I was finishing a bowl of chicken soup my husband brought me.

A little while later, my 14-year-old daughter came into the “sick room” where I was parked on the couch.

“Mom, do you need anything?” she asked.

“A cool washcloth would be good. I could use a blanket, too, because I’m cold,” I replied. Even though I was miserable, I was enjoying this attention.

“Mom, how are you doing?” my 9-year-old daughter asked later that day.

“I could use some pain reliever,” I replied, and then I described where to find it. Soon she returned with a bottle of medication and a glass of water.

“Don’t drink from my cup. Trust me, you don’t want to catch this bug,” I said as she reached for my cup.

“Oh, yeah,” she said.

I had several people taking care of me, which I appreciated. Even our three dogs hopped up on the couch and checked on me, but that got a little crowded and too warm.

I’m sure that my kids found it odd that I was lying on the couch continually for 12 hours, but I barely could move. I had awakened dizzy, nauseated, feverish and generally achy.

I think I had caught the bug that some of my co-workers had survived. I didn’t feel sick enough to go to a clinic and, fortunately, I felt much better the next day.

Cold and flu season will be upon us soon. I hope you will not find yourself planted on a couch or tucked in bed being sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with the flu may have a fever (often with chills), cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache and fatigue. Children with the flu also might have vomiting and diarrhea.

For some people, especially adults 65 and older, pregnant women and children under the age of 5, getting the flu can be life-threatening. People with diabetes, kidney disorders, lung diseases, asthma and several other chronic diseases also are at high risk for serious consequences. Pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus or ear infections might follow a bout with the flu.

No one enjoys feeling under the weather, so what can you do to help prevent colds and the flu?

  • According to CDC, step one is to have a flu vaccine every year.
  • Be sure to wash your hands regularly. Lather up for at least 20 seconds. Consider using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when a sink is not nearby. Germs easily spread when someone touches a contaminated surface, such as a door handle, and then touches his/her eyes or mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick to help prevent others from being exposed. Create a “sick room” in your house, and be sure to practice good hygiene and wash dishware/glasses with hot, soapy water. Be sure to cover your coughs with a tissue, and don’t leave them in places where others have to pick them up.
  • Stay well-nourished every day with a varied, nutritious diet.
  • Get regular physical activity. Aim for 30 minutes per day on most days of the week.
  • Get enough sleep.

When you are ill, you might not feel like eating, but keeping your body nourished helps you fight the bacterial or viral invaders. If you are nauseated, vomiting or have diarrhea, you probably need to go easy on your system and focus on staying hydrated.

Hydrate yourself with ice chips, clear broth, Gatorade or ginger ale. When your appetite begins to return, you might try the “brat” diet, which is an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These fairly bland foods are easy to digest.

Here is a recipe adapted from the Pennsylvania Nutrition Network, which is tasty whether you are recovering from being sick or wanting some comforting, warm soup on a cool, fall day. For more information about food and nutrition, check out http://www.ndsu.edu/eatsmart or the blog posts at http://www.prairiefare.areavoices.com/.

Chicken Rice Soup

1 c. cooked chicken

6 c. chicken broth

1 c. uncooked white rice

1/4 c. chopped onion

1 3/4 c. cut vegetables, such as carrots, celery and cabbage

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

Cook chicken (or use leftover or canned chicken) and cut into cubes. Place the cooked chicken in a large saucepan. Add the broth and uncooked rice. Cover the pan. Bring the broth and rice to a boil. Cover the pan, and turn the heat to low. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the onion, chopped vegetables and seasonings. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Serve.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 160 calories, 2.5 grams (g) of fat, 24 g of carbohydrate, 1 g of fiber, 11 g of protein and 150 milligrams of sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)


NDSU Agriculture Communication – Sept. 6, 2012

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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