Effective hygiene habits for the whole family

Updated: Feb 5

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ~Benjamin Franklin

Since the onset of Covid-19, we have become more and more aware of the importance of washing and cleaning our hands and our spaces. Bacteria is an integral part of a healthy ecosystem, however, when that system is compromised, we must rely on healthy habits to combat germs, viruses, and bacteria.

What is hygiene? As defined by vocabulary.com, if something is hygienic it is good for your health or promotes healthy habits. Hygienic comes from the ancient Greek word hygies, meaning "healthy" or, literally, "living well." This state was represented by the Goddess Hygieia, the embodiment of health and cleanliness.

First and foremost, I cannot begin an article about hygiene without mentioning to wash your hands! Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Our hands should be washed frequently throughout the day, after going to the bathroom, when entering the home, before eating, etc...Throughout daily activity, disease causing germs get onto the hands and under the nails. This can be combated with a good ol' soap and water scrub! It helps to sing (twinkle twinkle little star or the alphabet are great starters for 20 second washes, and its a great way to help the little ones learn!). In moments when hand washing isn't available, hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) is a great alternative. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. And remember, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

So when exactly should I wash my hands?

The more you wash your hands, the better! Here are some occasions where washing your hands is advised:

- After using the toilet or changing a diaper

- After touching trash or trash bins

- Before, during and after preparing food, particularly when handling raw foods like meat and vegetables

- Before eating or handling food

- After blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing

-Before and after treating a cut or wound

- Before and after caring for someone who is sick, especially with vomiting or diarrhea

- After touching animals, including household pets, their food and after cleaning their cages

- Before and after entering healthcare settings – such as visiting someone in hospital, or visiting the doctor

Stop the spread:

Turning away from other people and covering the nose and mouth with a tissue or the crease of the arm when coughing or sneezing helps prevent the spread of germs and harmful viruses/bacteria. If this is not done, droplets of liquid containing germs from the nose and mouth will be spread in the air and other people can breathe them in, or the droplets can get onto food. Then wash your hands! Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues to decrease the spread of germs. Another effective way to lessen the spread of harmful germs is by remaining at least 6 feet apart and distancing yourself from large groups/crowds and others. When you feel under the weather, stay inside! This way you will lessen the chances of compromising your immune system and others.

Promote healthy eating and snacking habits.

A nutritious diet is important for a strong immune system and a strong healthy body (as well for maintaining healthy teeth and gums). Make sure you and your family eat a varied balanced diet of whole foods in appropriate portions (5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables are recommended daily). You should limit sugar and processed boxed and fast foods (which accelerates the

growth of decay-causing bacteria and weakens the immune system) and offer non-sugary snacks and drinks (please y'all, drink more water!) between meals.

A great way to get more fruits and veggies in your diet:

- wash apples and berries to have them ready for snacks

-chop bananas and berries and add them to morning cereal, oats, and smoothies

-wash and cut veggies (carrots, peppers, sugar peas, tomatoes...) for mid-day snacks

-in the beginning it may be easier to start with with pre-cut, smaller packaged portions

-reduce the amount of meat or cheese on a sandwich by ½ and replace with veggies.

-add veggies to your eggs, omelets, potatoes, soups, pizza...etc

- drink up! Add frozen fruits/veggies into your smoothies or try a fresh pressed juice (green drink anyone!?)

-frozen grapes are great summer time treat for the whole family! Also get creative and try frozen fruit ice cubes or try your hand at frozen fruit popsicles.

-for teething children- freeze some fruit/veggies and create natural and healthy habits as well as sooth gum pain. (Frozen foods should never be in offered bite sized pieces. Make sure to give them large chunks to gnaw on, like a big frozen carrot stick. You can also use mesh bags to put frozen food in while baby chews. This way, you can put in any type of frozen fruit or veggie- grapes, cucumbers, apples, bananas, etc, and baby will get some of the juices while chewing on the outside. This way you don't have to fear that your child will choke.

-last but not least, if all else fails, look for a whole foods multi-vitamin (this is really great to incorporate regardless!)

Wipe surfaces with disinfectant wipes.

Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces more often, such as door knobs, handles, stair railings, bars, desks, phones, kitchens, shared computers, cash registers, elevator buttons, and restaurants tables/menus minimizes the spread of germs. We come in contact with a lot of things on a day to day basis, make sure you're doing your part to stay safe and healthy!

Practice what you teach.

Modeling healthy behavior you want your child to learn is just as important as instructing them how to do it. When your child is very young, brushing teeth, washing hands, and even eating should be a family affair — allow them to see how you brush your teeth and wash your hands as this help them learn and mimic your behavior. Explore what practices feel most natural and what requires more effort. Lean in to learning new habits. Practice for 30 days and notice how each new habit invites more ease.

Live well, Be well, Live clean