After a burst of unseasonably sunny weather, autumn looks like it's well and truly upon us. It's only a matter of weeks before the clocks go back and winter arrives, along with its entourage of chilly weather, darker days and cold and flu bugs.
Making positive changes to your health and well-being now can stand you in good stead. So what can you do now to lift your spirits, strengthen your immune system and feel energised? Read on...
Become a soberhero
Want to look and feel better and support people with cancer at the same time? Join thousands of people up and down the country by giving up alcohol for one month and raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. There's still time; see www.gosober.org.uk for more information.
Pack it in for good
Make October the month you quit with the NHS and Public Health England's campaign Stoptober. It's been shown that giving up smoking for four weeks means that you are five times more likely to stay a non-smoker. Join comedians Al Murray and Rhod Gilbert by signing up at https://stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk
Enjoy the great outdoors
It is arguably the best season to exercise outside; crisp, autumnal days were made for a walk in the woods or a cycle in a country park. Whilst you're out and about, take the opportunity to see what gifts nature has left in the hedgerows. Blackberries, elderberries and rosehips are bountiful at this time of year (keep your eyes peeled on a future blog post on how to make an immune boosting syrup from these berries!).
Warm your plate
There is a tendency to reach for stodgy comfort food once the skimpy summer wardrobe is safely packed away. It's natural to want something more substantial than a salad, however remember that we need the nutrients that fresh produce provides.
To aid digestion and build energy conserves for the winter months ahead, switch from cold, raw foods to warm soups, stews and baked fruit. Here are some simple meal ideas:
Instead of cold cereal in the morning, opt for a bowl of warm porridge made with rolled oats, quinoa or chia seeds. Add cinnamon and a drizzle of raw honey.
Still on salads? Give your digestion a helping hand by switching to a simple homemade soup using seasonal produce. Try roast tomato and red pepper, spicy sweet potato and butternut squash or curried kale and spinach. Roast the vegetables and steam the leaves before blitzing in a blender. Add plenty of herbs and spices; rosemary, oregano, garlic, ginger, thyme, turmeric and black pepper all boost immunity and aid digestion. Enjoy the soup with a few oat cakes or corn bread to give your gut a break from gluten-rich grains.
Embrace seasonal root vegetables such as carrots, celeriac and butternut squash - add to beef or lamb stews or as an accompaniment to seasonal game such as pheasant. For a hearty vegetarian option, see this recipe for a mouthwatering Moroccan stew
It's still important to keep hydrated, however it may seem chore to drink cold water. Remember that hot drinks including tea, soups and water-rich foods all count. If you're not a fan of fruit or herbal teas, Rooibos tea is worth a try as it's closer to black tea in taste and appearance, or spice up black tea with the following recipe for Masala Chai tea
Puddings can be tasty and good for you; try baking or poaching apples, pears and peaches or make an Autumn fruit crumble
Relax and recharge
Take some time out, even if you can only manage an hour a week, to do something just for you. Instead of automatically turning on the television once work is done or the kids have gone to bed, why not get caught up in a good fiction book instead? Or treat yourself to a complementary therapy treatment to balance mind, body and spirit.
Complementary therapist and natural health expert. On a mission to sprinkle health and wellness wherever I go...