With the end of summer quickly approaching, we look ahead to changing leaves, the start of school, and delicious Fall produce. As the days shorten and our calendars fill with holiday events, you may find it challenging to prioritize your wellness. That’s why, for this article, our Nutrition Team and Executive Chef Melanie Brown-Lane, have come together to outline some important tips to keep you happy, healthy (and hydrated!) this Fall.
1. Time to Increase Your Vitamin D. Given our latitude, Summer is the only time of year where we are likely getting enough sun to meet our Vitamin D needs. Did you know that almost half the U.S. population is Vitamin D deficient? While you can get your daily dose of Vitamin D from about 15 minutes of sun exposure, things like age, sunscreen use, and the amount of melanin in your skin can affect your ability to produce enough. As such, our dietitians recommend including fatty fishes, such as salmon and tuna, or fortified foods like milk and cereals in your diet. Additionally, if you are concerned about having a deficiency, we recommend talking to your doctor to get your vitamin D levels tested, and, to see if supplementation might be appropriate for you.
2. Hydrate! While it may seem counterintuitive, dehydration is common during cooler months; our thirst response decreases, while our urine output increases. Losses to the cooler air and heavier clothing (causing you to sweat more) are other contributing factors. Dehydration can lead to everything from dry skin to headaches and fatigue. While drinking enough fluids is important, eating foods with a high-water content can also help! All fruits and vegetables contain some water, but our dietitians recommend choosing some Fall favorites, such as winter squashes (acorn, spaghetti, and butternut), Brussels sprouts, apples, and pears.
3. Strengthen Your Immune System. This is a great time of year to schedule annual check-ups and make sure you are up to date on vaccinations (including the flu shot). Additionally, it’s important to wash your hands frequently and follow the CDC guidelines for mask wearing. Finally, other healthy habits, such as getting enough sleep and consistent exercise can also help ward off illnesses.
4. Eat a Balanced Diet. Cooler months are often synonymous with heavy dishes, but small changes can help you enjoy comfort foods while still achieving balance. Our Nutrition Team encourages eating more seasonal produce when possible. Use spaghetti squash in place of regular pasta or make the vegetable the base for your dish, such as a stuffed sweet potato. Riced cauliflower can be swapped for regular rice or added to oatmeal and smoothies. Beets, while great on a salad, can also be added to smoothies or pancakes. Swapping butter with apple sauce in baked goods can help cut back on saturated fat. Roasted veggies (as featured in Chef Mel’s recipe below) and stews are two of our favorite ways to include vegetables this time of year.
Chef Mel’s Warm Roasted Root Vegetables