5 tips for staying healthy in Manitoba

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Have you heard about the “healthy immigrant effect”? This is the phenomenon where newcomers to Canada arrive healthier than the Canadian-born population but tend to grow less healthy as they live here longer. Researchers point to issues such as stress due to major life changes, as well as adopting less healthy behaviors (due to these changes) as the causes of this effect.

Here are five ways to buck the healthy immigrant effect:

  1. Watch your diet

  2. Your first few days as a newcomer is expected to be a busy time. It can also be stressful. Many won’t have time to prepare healthy meals so they choose to eat whatever is convenient like junk food and instant meals.

    You should realize that you’ll need a healthy diet all the more during this time. Nutritious food can increase your energy as well as immunity against sickness. Learn about Health Canada’s Food Guide to know what types of food are better for you. Also read Healthy eating habits for newcomers to get more tips to help you stick to a healthy diet.

    You can also cook your traditional foods. With Manitoba being so multicultural, you can probably find native ingredients at ethnic food stores. Also, learn about vegetables and fruits in season in the prairies and other wonderful nutrition tips from Home and Family (Manitoba Association of Nutritionists).


    Cooking with frozen vegetables, Home & Family, Manitoba Association of Home Economists

    Video in various languages may be found here: Video resources

  3. Stay active

    Engaging in sports or maintaining your usual walking or jogging routine could be a challenge in winter. However, there are other options to stay active all year-round. For example, you can take your exercise indoors by joining activities in local community centers or exercising at home. Commit to small, regular activities like taking the stairs (instead of the elevator) or shoveling snow on your driveway. Get more acclimated to the cold by trying outdoor sports and going to festivals. Learn how to ice skate (a seasonal offering from MOSAIC), visit a museum, library or park.

    Read How to stay active in winter for more ideas. You can get other ideas from the Active Living page of Manitoba.ca too. Check the Manitoba Healthy Living Guide to know how much physical activity you should have.

  4. Stay positive

    Immigrants go through various stages of adaptation. It starts with the honeymoon stage when they arrive and are feeling optimistic about being in a new country. After a few months, they could experience things like culture shock, a rough job search, or find it hard to cope with the weather. This can lead to the crisis or rejection stage. It is in this period that newcomers are most prone to depression. This can even weaken the immune system, making them prone to sickness.

    Newcomers should realize that this is just a phase. They will get through this if they stay strong and focus on solutions. Aside from staying positive, maintaining social networks is important. Talking to family and friends will help. You can also access counseling support from immigrant-serving organizations throughout Manitoba (like Aurora Family Therapy Center).

    Not getting enough light can also be a factor. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons. People with SAD usually feel lethargic and moody starting in the fall until the winter months. If you think you may have SAD, talk to your doctor about it.

  5. Stay informed

    Having factual, timely and relevant information on health and safety has never more important than during this pandemic. Read Where to go for up-to-date and factual COVID-19 information that you can rely on for links to websites and resources that use scientific and peer-reviewed information.

    Manitoba also has several health programs for you and your children. For instance, the Dial-a- Dietitician program allows you to consult a health professional and ask for practical eating advice for free (Call 204-788-8248 or 1-877-830-2892 toll free).

  6. Strengthen your immune system

    Aside from proper nutrition and exercise, you can boost your immune system with vitamins such as D, C as well as zinc, especially during flu season. Remember to consult your doctor before taking these supplements. You can also get free flu shots from local health clinics, doctor’s offices or pharmacies. Check the Manitoba Health page for more information on flu vaccines and where to get them. Don’t forget to protect yourself and others by observing public health guidelines such as social distancing and wearing a mask whenever applicable, as well as washing your hands to limit the spread of the virus.

Article updated April 29, 2021.

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Community Resources

Home & Family is a wonderful website full of nutrition tips from the Manitoba Association of Home Economists. Know the vegetables and fruits in season in the prairies. Learn about community gardens and kitchens, cooking classes, and other activities and resources in MB.

The Winnipeg Health Region site has a host of resources on population and public health.

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