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My Flu Season Checklist

Whether it’s the media fanning the flames of fear, or a true epidemic, we are about to go into flu, cough and cold season. Many of our stores are offering flu shots, the hand sanitizer and wipes market is booming and there are some food reminders to put out there. From a dietitian’s standpoint, much of the readiness to survive any illness comes from prevention but the other part — the one most consumers forget — is to is get back to eating real food again.

Here are some tips for helping our customers with both of these challenges.

• Focus on the fact that citrus season is here with oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes along, with the multitude of juices. The Florida Citrus Commission has some great recipes. Mixing the juice with some seltzer or soda water results in a spritzer that has some nutrition power. The goal ? Vitamin C and a host of protective nutrients that fits most diets.

• Emphasize the message to include probiotics in the diet. Yogurt, yogurt smoothies (both dairy and soy based) may build immunities and are good follow-ups to a bout with the flu, since they replace important gut bacteria that might have been wiped out with antiobiotics.

• Include a prevention corner in the store, with citrus, supplements, probiotics and other protective foods, along with an assortment of hand sanitizers and wipes. The pharmacy probably has some great additions too.

• Offer a demo on hand-washing technique. Yes there is one, for adults and children! The old “ABC” song is a good way to make sure the time goal is met.

• Place hand sanitizers and wipes around the market, free to the customer and sales staff. Near the carts and at the registers are good places to remind customers you care about their health and that of your staff.

• Feature chicken soup, herbal teas and other foods and drinks that give comfort as well as the benefits of electrolytes and fluid. Hydration is an important part of recovery from winter illnesses and suggestions such as adding a squeeze of lemon or lime can to beverages help speed the healing process.