As single moms, getting sick not only sucks, but it’s really hard to manage kids, job, and yourself. The best option is to, well, just not get sick in the first place. Well, first, there are no guarantees that we’ll never get sick, no matter how much we try. That said, there is still a whole lot we can do on our end to give our bodies is maximum ability to fight of germs and disease. And one easy place to start is what we put in our mouths. Since we all eat and drink throughout the day, making good choices is critical.
So I did my research and made my list of the most potent “superfoods” out there when it comes to boosting the immune system. Sure, eating healthy in general is good. But there are “good” foods, and then there are “great” foods. And then there are teas and spices that help, too.
Personally, I’m not a big meat eater, to be honest, but I’m a huge fan of seafood and fish and there’s plenty of those to keep me satiated. Plus, I can add garlic and grilled veggies, and flavor it with, say, cayenne pepper to make it a super nutritional, immune boosting meal (delicious, too). Add a side of black beans and, wow, I’m hungry just thinking about it.
The bottom line is that there are enough options to keep even the pickiest eaters happy (that includes my children). If there’s something that I hate (and, really, I only hate peas, lima beans, chicken on the bone, and raisins, none of which are on my superfoods list), I’ll pick something else.
Eating out is always my biggest challenge but at almost every restaurant, there are always salads (go light on the dressings; I personally like balsamic vinegar and olive oil), grilled chicken or fish, and steamed veggies. No joke, I went to Cheesecake Factory not too long ago and I ordered steamed broccoli, steamed asparagus, and a side of mashed potatoes that I split with my daughter (ok, I confess—I also split a slice of cheesecake). Actually, my lunch choice was delicious and I was really full before a started in on the cheesecake.
Ok, enough about that. Let’s get to that shopping list. I’ll buy as much organic, farm raised, locally grown stuff as possible. It’s always good to support the healthy foods industry, in my opinion.
Fruits & Veggies: You simply can’t go wrong with eating lots of fresh produce, and the more colorful, the better. Raw or lightly steamed is best, though grilling or broiling are also good options. Warning: if you boil them, know that you’ll be dumping most of the nutrients down the drain along with the leftover water. Here are some of the most anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies that pack a real nutritional punch:
- Red bell peppers
- Berries (blueberries, strawberries)
- Citrus fruits, like oranges
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard greens
Meat, Poultry, Seafood
- Turkey (dark meat)
- Red snapper
- Chicken (white meat)
- Lamb chops
Zinc-fortified cereals (check out the sugar content carefully, organic high quality cereals are best)
Whole grains (warning: whole wheat is not the same as “whole grain”)
Beans (black and garbanzo)
Yogurt (plain yogurts are best, many have loads of sugar or sucralose, food coloring, and other yucky stuff that actually weaken your immune system)
Cranberries (dried cranberries are a great option; try eating them plain, putting them in salads or cereals)
Chicken soup (a great idea is to make your own using organic chicken broth and lots of immune boosting veggies from the list above)
Ginger (ginger tea is delicious; I use ginger essential oils and rub it on the bottom of my feet every night before I go to bed)
Garlic (yum! If I am grilling, baking, using the crockpot, or broiling, you can be sure there’s lots of fresh garlic in there)
Cayenne pepper (you can add cayenne to tomato juice, use to flavor guacamole or meats, or even lightly sprinkle over veggies)
Flax oil (try adding a few tablespoons to a fresh smoothie, it’s tasteless)
- Vitamin C (200 mg per day is adequate. You’ll get this amount simply be eating at least six servings of fruits and veggies per day. If you take supplements, space them throughout the day. Otherwise, you’ll pee out much of the vitamin).
- Vitamin E (100-400 mg per day): Vitamin E stimulates the production of natural killer cells, which seeks out and destroys germs and cancer cells. It’s not easy to get an adequate supply with just proper nutrition so a supplement is a good idea.
By arming our bodies with the right nutrients, we enable it to do its job better. And we have a much better chance of staying healthy, or at least healthier than we would otherwise. As a single mom, that sounds quite fabulous.