5 tips for staying healthy in Manitoba

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Have you heard about the “healthy immigrant effect”? This is a phenomenon where newcomers are described to be generally healthier than the Canadian-born when they arrive, but then become less healthy as their years in Canada increase. Researchers are still studying the factors that lead to this, but issues such as stress due to major life changes (such as career or lifestyle), or more precisely, adopting less healthy behaviors because of these changes, are possible causes.

With the probability of falling into this dangerous pattern just lurking ahead, it is important that you plan and commit to following a healthy regimen. Here are five ways that you can buck the healthy immigrant effect:

  1. Be conscious of your diet

  2. Your first few days as a newcomer is expected to be a busy time for you – moving, planning, adjusting – all of which may cause undue stress. Keep in mind that it is during this period that you will need proper nourishment all the more. Don’t fall into the trap of grabbing whatever is convenient – this usually means junk food and instant meals that are laden with sodium or preservatives. Health Canada has a convenient Food Guide to help you and your family know what types of food are better for you and the portions that are appropriate. Read Healthy eating habits for newcomers to get more tips on eating healthy.

  3. Stay active

    With Manitoba’s long winters, engaging in outdoor sports, or maintaining your usual walking or jogging routine could be a challenge (and then, there are other barriers to physical activity). However, there are many other options that you can consider so that you can continue to be active all year-round. You can join activities in local community centers. You can also get tools and resources from the Active Living page of Manitoba.ca.

    You can choose to start small with activities like taking the stairs (instead of the elevator) or even shoveling snow on your driveway. In your spare time or during the weekends, you can learn how to ice skate (a seasonal offering from MOSAIC), visit a museum, library or park. To know how much physical activity is enough, Manitoba Healthy Living has a guide that you can consult.

  4. Stay positive

    Newcomers are expected to go through stages of cultural adaptation. The first part is the honeymoon stage, where you feel like a tourist and you are excited about your move. The second phase is the crisis or rejection stage when you start to struggle with the realities and challenges of adapting to a new culture. It is in this period that you are most prone to depression which may even affect your immune system. Social networks are important in this stage. Talking to your family and friends will help. You may also access counseling support from immigrant-serving organizations throughout Manitoba (like Aurora Family Therapy Center).

    Getting enough light is also important. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. People with SAD usually feel lethargic and moody starting in the fall and continues in winter months. If you think you may have SAD, talk to your doctor about it.

  5. Keep informed

    In Canada, there are many ways you can stay informed on matters regarding health and safety. Online, you can access Healthy Canadians, which is a compendium of health and safety-related information for you and your family. You can also go to this page to stay connected with various social media tools and apps the Government of Canada uses to send out reliable and timely health and safety information. Manitoba 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 come flu season, of course with proper consultation with your doctor. You can also get flu shots which are given out free from local health clinics, doctor’s offices or pharmacies. You can check the Manitoba Health page for more information on flu vaccines and where to get them.

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Community Resources

Here’s a mix of health tips from all over the world: Worldy Wellness… the best health tips from different cultures from Canadian Immigrant.ca.

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

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