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Tips for the Holidays and Cold and Flu Season

By Susan Mitchell, PhD, RD, FADA

Cold & Flu Season

With cold and flu season coming, parents can be prepared by stocking up on:

  • Tea.   All types of tea offer health and immune-boosting benefits. It's not just about green tea: black, white and red are all great options. Here's a fun fact: tea with caffeine, such as Market Pantry Green or Black tea ($1.94 at Target), is great to have on hand when you're sick as it can perk your energy.
  • Soup. Contrary to common wisdom, it's not the chicken in chicken noodle soup that offers immune boosting and recovery benefits. In fact, ingredients such as garlic and onion have powerful benefits for your body. Garlic has been known to help boost the immune system, and onions contain antioxidants. Look at the ingredients in your soup to ensure they contain garlic and onions. A good option is Market Pantry Chicken Noodle Soup ($1.57).
  • Fluids. When children are sick, it is important for them to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and fluids.  Also consider drinking fruit juices like blueberry, blackberry and cherry juices, which, in addition to hydration benefits and Vitamin C content, contain powerful antioxidants. Archer Farms Pomegranate Juice ($4.59) can help keep you healthy.
  • Probiotics. Probiotics help put healthy bacteria back into the body. They are  particularly important to consume if you or your child is taking antibiotics to help replenish the "good" bacteria in the body. Yogurt is loaded with probiotics. Try Archer Farms Black Cherry Yogurt ($.45).
  • Vitamin C. It's important to note that fruits are a better source for Vitamin C than supplements. Consider adding a variety of citrus fruits, not just oranges, to you and your children's diet. In addition to Vitamin C, citrus fruits also include other body-beneficial ingredients such as fiber.   And, while Vitamin C doesn't fight colds per se, it does boost the immune system. SuperTarget has an assortment of fruits such as grapefruit, which offers a big dose of Vitamin C. Other foods that are packed with Vitamin C include fruits and veggies such as blackberries, blueberries, tomatoes and even potatoes.Sliced and whole oranges

Sensible eating during the holidays

It's a struggle to maintain healthy eating habits during the holidays, since it's a season filled with delicious temptations. To make smart food decisions at holiday parties, keep in mind these tips:

  • Before heading out to a party, have a snack so that you don't arrive hungry. A high-protein snack, such as a handful of nuts, will help you refrain from indulging in sugary or high-fat treats. Try: 

    • Archer Farms Simply Balanced Dark Chocolate Cherry 7-Grain granola bar, $2.49

    • Archer Farms Heart Healthy Blueberry Nut Blend trail mix, $6.99

    • As an alternative to serving high calorie snacks, consider filling large cocktail or martini glasses with Sunny Cranberry trail mix or Yogurt Raisin, Pecan and Berries Antioxidant trail mix from Archer Farms for a unique presentation of a healthy snack.

    • Sunny Cranberry - contains cranberries, almonds, golden raisins, sunflower kernels and pepitas 

    • Yogurt Raisin, Pecan and Berries - contains yogurt-coated raisins, pecans, cranberries, goji berries and raspberries
  • Before you eat your first bite, peruse the available foods to see what the choices are. Decide where you want to spend your calories before making a plate for yourself.
  • If you drink alcohol, alternate one alcoholic drink with sparkling water with lime. The more you drink, the easier it is to eat mindlessly. Alcohol has extra calories and makes you dehydrated.
  • Avoid calorie-laden drinks such as specialty martinis, spiked cider and Irish coffee and opt for clear beverages, such as champagne and wine spritzers.
  • Stand away from buffet tables: out of sight, out of mind!
  • Offer to bring a favorite healthy dish, such as veggies and dip or low-fat chili, so you know there will be at least one good-for-you selection, such as:

    • Archer Farms Simply Balanced Asiago Rosemary and Pepper snack crackers with flax seed ($2.49), served with a low-fat cheese. 

    • The Archer Farms Simply Balanced Mediterranean Style Vegetable Thin Crust Pizza ($4.79) can be cut into small bites to serve as finger food; keep on hand in the freezer for unexpected guests. Each pizza is quick and easy to prepare, with less than 300 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving.

Dr. Susan Mitchell is Target's Health and Nutrition Expert.

Created November 17, 2010