Gold Card Vegan

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Snuggle Up, It’s Going to get Cold!

Author and speaker Fee O’Shea, the Gold Card Vegan, looks at ways senior vegans can keep healthy and happy as winter sets in.

The first of May heralds the colder season here in beautiful New Zealand. How do I know this? The government gives Gold Carders an extra bit in the pension purses for the increased power bill.

Having these few extra dollars helps keep us warm, but you can do so much more to make sure the winter blues aren’t anywhere near as bad as they could be.

Let’s start with hygiene

If we learned anything from 2020, it’s that having good hygiene helped reduce the number of flu outbreaks last winter. 

Now I don’t suggest social distance, but keeping your hands clean is a great start. Use the hand sanitisers that retailers offer, especially in the supermarkets. Where possible, make a point to wipe down trolley handles and other high-contact areas.

Food is next

Some quick dietary tips to ward off sickness:

  • Have berries, citrus, bananas, spinach, carrots and lots of leafy green vegetables.
  • Eat whole food plant-based meals, swapping any animal protein you might have used in the past for legumes (lentils, beans and chickpeas).
  • Eat a variety of grains, such as quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, wholemeal pasta, brown/black/wild rice.
  • Bring garlic into your diet, preferable raw. Try making a dressing with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and water.
  • Drink plenty of water and cut back on sugar and alcohol.

Here are some staples you’ll want on your shopping list:

  • Capsicums: bell peppers, preferably eaten raw to preserve vitamin C.
  • Ginger: a slice in herbal tea or water, grate into stir fries, sauces or in smoothies.
  • Sunflower seeds: sprinkle over salads, stir fry or have in a trail mix.
  • Mushrooms: These are rich in B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium, niacin, and seven of the eight essential amino acids (especially Shitake).
  • Turmeric: Put into smoothies, stir fries (always add a dash of black pepper), or try a trendy turmeric latte.
  • Green tea: Preferably have this in the morning to enhance alertness and attention.
  • Berries: An absolute must! Every day in a smoothie, on cereal or however you can. Frozen berries are brilliant too.
  • Fermented foods: These are great for gut health. Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, pickles, and kombucha.
Physical wellbeing

It is imperative to keep active as we get older. We hear the usual suggestions like walking and yoga a lot, so let me give slightly different ideas:

  • Dance! Turn the music up, hold a hairbrush as a microphone and just go crazy.
  • Surprising as it seems, fidgeting works. Do things like air-drumming, jiggling your feet, and standing up often if you are sitting a lot.
  • Throw a ball against the side of your home. A tennis ball works well. This is not only exercise but also great for coordination.
  • If you have stairs, do I even need to say it? You’re probably already running up and down them all day.
  • Try sitting in a squat (you can watch TV doing this one, or read a book). Hold the position for as long as you can.
  • Use a hula hoop or skipping rope.    
  • Clean a room a day. Go through your home and do a good ahead-of-spring clean.
Mental Wellness

Have a morning ritual:

  • Listen to a podcast or an audiobook while out walking.
  • Journal, begin your day with being grateful.
  • Meditation, sitting quietly for a minimum of 10 minutes.
  • Read for 15 minutes, especially a self-help book.
And in the evening:
  • Meditate for 10 minutes.
  • Do yoga or some stretches.
  • Journal again; brain dump the good, bad and ugly of the day and things to be grateful for.
  • Prepare for the next day.
Don’t Be Alone

As we get older we can become set in routines, and as the days close in we can begin to stay indoors too much. This can lead to getting awfully unsocial, so try to get out into the community:

  • Volunteer at the local op shop (or other charity).
  • If you can use a computer, go online to to find things to do in your area. Don’t limit yourself to just your age group, have fun with some of the young’uns as well (they need your wisdom!).
  • Find a walking group. This ticks off two activities — exercise and socialising.
  • Join a book club, your local library may be able to help.
  • Other things to try: bowling, golf, dance class, garden groups, learn a musical instrument, board game or card groups, and see if there is a vegan cooking class that you can attend.

Many things in our communities will get you out and socialising. Be proactive this winter and pass on your wisdom from a state of health and positivity.

Fee has more resources for entering senior years with vibrancy at her Gold Card Vegan website: 

Aotearoa Vegan and Plant Based Living Magazine
This article was sourced from the Winter 2021 edition of The Vegan Society magazine.
Order your own current copy in print or pdf or browse past editions.

The articles we present in our magazine and blog have been written by many authors and are are not necessarily the views and policies of the Vegan Society.

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