By Eli Follick
“At my door the leaves are fallin’- a cold wild wind will come.”
With the onset of fall, changes of all kinds are upon us – some more obvious than others. We say goodbye to bathing suits and backyard parties and hello to cooler weather. Plants begin to go dormant and the hummingbirds, which entertained me all summer, will stop coming to my feeders. Sweaters and coats emerge on store hangars. The transition of the seasons also heralds changes to our activities, diets, and schedules, and as we age, it may be wise to be more mindful about our lifestyle choices during coming months.
Look no further than your own backyard, for example. You may have furniture that needs to be stored or covered up? Do plants need a final application of fertilizer? Any bushes need trimming or deadheading? If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, those of us on the older end of the age spectrum may want to avoid overdoing unfamiliar activity. To prepare the backyard for fall and winter, consider spreading the activity out over a couple of days so as not to overdo it.
As temperatures fall, you’ll also need to accommodate outdoor activities with appropriate clothing when tidying up the yard and patio or taking a walk on a breezy, damp morning. Keep extra layers close at hand.
Keep in mind, too, that the sun sets earlier, and that could mean a change to your evening activities, including your sleep schedule. Sleep is when our bodies recover from the day’s activities, so it’s important to adjust your bedtimes hours with the change in light to ensure you still get six to eight hours of quality rest.
Given fewer hours of sunlight and colder temperatures, we also tend to get less sun. Sunlight helps our bodies make vitamin D. Your doctor may suggest a supplement this time of year to ensure you do not become deficient. TV ads are reminding people to get the flu vaccine, especially those of us who fall within an age group that is more susceptible to severe illness. So, we should add getting the shot to our “to do” list.
One of the most noticeable changes at this time of year is what we cook. The lighter, smaller fare of summer is replaced with heavier meals, including roasts, stews, meatloaves, and desserts like pies. A healthful diet doesn’t have to go off the rails simply because the weather is colder and we’re indoors more. Eggs, low-fat cuts of meat, skinless chicken, fish, and cooked vegetables can serve cravings for warming dishes. Be sure to keep proteins low in fat and restricted to 2-4 ounces. We are fortunate to live at a time when we can get fruits and vegetables year-round. The key is to arrange your cooking choices so you can continue to have a healthy, nutritious diet whether it’s summer or winter.
The arrival of October also means we have a little less than two months to get ready for the holidays. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest eating holidays of the year – sweet potato nestled under a thick coating of unhealthy marshmallows, sugar-laden pumpkin
pie, fat-filled stuffing, and oh, the wine. The secret to celebrating healthfully yet enjoyably is planning ahead. Ask yourself, “How will I change my portions and choices so that when I can attend the family gathering, I will be able to cheat a
For example, one of my favorite parts of the holiday meal has always been the turkey stuffing. Even though I don’t usually eat bread with a meal, I just can’t give up on stuffing. So, I changed my serving size. Now, I have one or two spoonsful instead of loading up half of my plate. The bulk of my dish gets filled with salad, which I sometimes take to a celebration so that everyone is ensured of having something healthful to eat.
It’s also the season for symphony concerts, theater openings, new programs at senior centers and community colleges, craft fairs, and outdoor markets. Opportunities abound for learning and experiencing new things, and meeting and making new friends. Social activities are critical for a healthy life. We just have to be extra careful to try to
maintain social distancing and, when appropriate, wear a mask.
With a bit of planning and commitment to health, it’s easy to appreciate the new season and enjoy all that it offers. I’m thankful that by taking small steps to care for my body and mind, I am enjoying every day of it.