Winter health tips – avoiding colds, SAD, cracked heels, & weight gain

Winter is coming!

In Chinese medical philosophy, infectious illnesses are considered to enter the body at the nape of the neck, so scarves are an important defensive weapon against getting sick. Although I think it has more to do with insulating the carotid arteries at the side of the neck, I am a big encourager of scarf wearing. In addition to preventing infections, a toasty cover will keep your neck muscles warm and relaxed. Pick out a soft, colorful one and give yourself a woolly hug. You can also give your immune system a boost by stimulating TB-5, and including garlic and ginger in your diet along with lots of hearty vegetables.

Don’t be S.A.D.!

If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the shorter days can sap your energy and leave you feeling depressed. You need to stimulate your pituitary gland, and the best way to do that is to get some time in front of a full-spectrum light, particularly in the morning. You can just pick up some full-spectrum light bulbs at the grocery store, or you can go in for a fancy “light box.” Soak up some photons at close range for about 15 minutes first thing in the morning, while having breakfast or catching up on Facebook.

Cracked Heel remedies

Winter health tip: keep your heels smooth and pain-free by treating cracks early, before they get out of control!

Winter health tip: keep your heels smooth and pain-free by treating cracks early, before they get out of control!

If your feet have suffered this winter, try this: Before bed, apply a high-quality lotion or wax (I like Waxelene, available at New Seasons. No nasty chemicals!) and put on some clean socks. This will keep the moisturizer on your feet rather than your sheets. I hate the restrictive sensation of wearing socks to bed, so I cut the toes off an old pair, which works beautifully. In the morning, before you shower, use a pumice stone or even a broad nail file to remove the dead skin. If you have painful, deep cracks, use some SuperGlue (or better yet Dermabond) to hold them closed and continue with the routine above.

Holiday stuffing

Ah, parties and recipes and comfort food… it’s all fun and games until your pants don’t fit, isn’t it?

Think ahead about making good choices. Have a nutritious snack before a party if you suspect the goodies won’t be good for you.

Potluck? Bring something healthy instead of a dessert!

Focus on quality, not quantity. Save your calories for when they count: Skip the storebought cookies so you can splurge a bit on Aunt Susan’s homemade toffee.

Don’t use the “it’s the holidays” excuse from mid-November to the end of the year! ON the actual holiday, of course, allow yourself to indulge a little, but not everyday! That’s a big chunk of the year!

Winter Heath tip: Get some exercise! Peacock Lane (at 40th and SE Belmont) is annual festival of electricity and inflatable animals in human clothes, and makes for a fun walk.

Winter Heath tip: Get some exercise! Peacock Lane (at 40th and SE Belmont) is annual festival of electricity and inflatable animals in human clothes, and makes for a fun walk.

Bundle up and go for a stroll in a winter wonderland! Check out the lights wherever you live. Some light exercise will aid your digestion, mood, and keep your muscles and joints in good shape. Don’t forget your scarf! :)

If you do overeat, use St-36 to promote digestion. This point is great for nearly all stomach complaints, but be aware that it generates more gastric acid. If you’re having heartburn / reflux, use PC-6 instead. To help speed up peristalsis (the movement of food through your intestines), rub your belly clockwise circle (up on the right side of your abdomen, across the top, down on the left). This is good for painful gas retention, too. For small children, just use a few fingers.

I hope you find these Winter health tips useful. Stay warm! :)

Fall Health tips

Autumn is my favorite season. The crisp blue skies, the exploding yellows and oranges in the trees… It makes me crave a walk in the woods and a crunchy, juicy apple. All of a sudden pumpkins are everywhere and I’m looking for a sweater.

 Asian tradition includes responding to the energy of the seasons. This is true both philosophically (Have you seen this beautiful Korean movie?) and physically.  Remember back in the summer when I mentioned cooling foods like watermelon? For fall health, try to eat fewer cold, raw foods like salads, and more warm, cooked meals. Enjoy soups and steamed or baked vegetables such as broccoli and yams. Incorporate yellow and red foods into your diet. Consider starting your morning with hot oatmeal to fuel your day. I love Steel Cut oats! You can get them at most grocery stores, and now  Fred Meyer even has them in the bulk isle!

You want about 1/4-1/3 cup of dry oats per person. The night before your intended breakfast, put the oats and twice as much water into a pot. That means I do half a cup plus a little extra shake for Robert and me (he’s a big guy!), and just over a cup of water. Cover and let soak overnight. In the morning, cook on medium heat for 6-10 minutes, depending on how chewy vs. soft you want your oatmeal.

You can enjoy as is, but I like to toss in some walnuts for some added protein and healthy fats. Fruit (dried or fresh), honey, even maple syrup are options, too. Get creative!

Of course hot tea, in a variety of colors and flavors, is essential for me in the Fall. My favorite when I’m chilled is ginger tea. You can buy packets, but it’s best to just grate fresh ginger into a mug of hot water and add honey. Ginger is supremely warming and a soothing treat for a sore throat. It even boosts your immune system!

There’s an article here about Damp. In Chinese Medicine, colds and flus are considered to enter the body at the nape of the neck. Scarves are an important defensive weapon against getting sick. Although I think it has more to do with insulating the carotid arteries at the side of the neck, I am a big encourager of scarf wearing. In addition to preventing infections, a toasty cover will keep your neck muscles warm and relaxed. Pick out a soft, colorful one and give yourself a woolly hug.