If you’re like many Canadians, you or someone you know felt icky, yucky, or downright gross over the holidays. An early start to cold and flu season caught us off guard, allowing illness to spread at parties and festive gatherings.
On a positive note, the holidays are ideal for getting needed rest. But, if you become sick during the traditional danger zone from January to March, deciding what to do can be much more difficult.
The answer depends on many personal variables, of course. But here are a few things to keep in mind that might help you decide (don’t forget: a lot of sick days can be avoided if you simply get the annual flu shot).
If you have a mild sniffle or slight cough, it’s usually okay to head to work. Just be sure to let your coworkers know you aren’t feeling 100%. That way, they won’t be surprised if you refuse a handshake, avoid a social function, or choose to eat alone.
While at work, wash your hands often, disinfect them regularly, and use disinfectant wipes several times per day to clean your workstation. You don’t want to risk being known as ‘patient zero’ at the office this year. And be sure you have some tissues on hand, too. Ah-choo!
If you feel worse than somewhat under the weather, it’s a good idea to stay home for at least a day if you can. This includes if you’ve suffered from moderate symptoms persisting for more than a few days. There are also a few red flag symptoms to watch out for.
If you have any of these symptoms, you’re better off staying home if you can:
1. Fever: Running a fever of over 37.5°C (100°F) is the number one sign you should stay home from work. It’s likely you have the flu and the next 36-48 hours will be pretty tough. You can get ahead of the game by jumping into bed straight away. But see a doctor if your fever rises over 39.5°C (103°F), persists for over 24 hours, or is accompanied by severe sweating or chills.
You should also remain home from work at least one extra full day after your fever breaks. Feeling rejuvenated? This can be a great opportunity to work from home.
2. Sore Throat: Ahead of other traditional cold symptoms, a sore throat is a red flag that you should consider staying home. To start, if your job involves speaking (and most do), this will be uncomfortable and could prolong your symptoms. More importantly, a sore throat is a potential symptom of laryngitis, mononucleosis, strep throat, or tonsillitis.
3. Coloured Mucus: To be completely clear (no pun intended), if you’re coughing up considerable amounts of phlegm, no matter the colour, you should consider staying at home if you can. In addition to several other very good reasons, nobody wants to hear all that ruckus at work.
That said, keep a close eye on the colour. If your mucus is distinctly green or yellow, it could be a sign of infection. At the very least, it shows your body is fighting off something nasty.
Check out this LD Expert video of Pharmacist Gianni Del Negro on Global News with Sonia Sunger.
Note: Please consult your pharmacist before taking any cold or flu treatments.
Antiviral Mask: If you’ve never tried one of these before, you might feel slightly self-conscious wearing what appears like a surgeon’s scrubs from the neck up. But you’ll be glad if it helps you avoid catching or spreading a cold this year. These masks are especially great to wear in large crowds or shared public spaces, such as transit, stores, or airports.
LD Expert says: “If you are concerned about getting sick or you want to prevent someone else from getting sick, you can put a mask on to prevent those droplets from going into the air.”
Saline Nasal Rinse: Again, some might feel unsure about using one of these products for the first time. “The water goes where!?,” they ‘ll say. But many of those who have tried a neti pot for themselves absolutely swear by the results. It involves rinsing out your nasal cavity with what is essentially warm, salty water and it can make all the difference when you’re stuffed up.
LD Expert Says: “If you’re really congested, it’s hard to breathe and you’re not going to get a good night’s sleep. Using a saline product like a neti pot helps relieve some of that congestion and makes it easier for you to breathe and function.”
Cough, Cold, and Flu Relief: There are a wide variety of off-the-shelf treatments for cold and flu symptoms. They feature numerous active ingredients and can be taken in many different ways, including everything from pills to fruit chews. But know that none offer a true cure or a proper substitute for needed bed rest. Still, they can make you feel a bit better in the meantime.
LD Expert Says: “The old stand-bys in terms of helping with cough, nasal congestion, those sorts of symptoms. Keep in mind it’s really important that you do talk to your pharmacist about these products before you use them.”
2016 marked a year of both peculiar and timeless food trends, advanced fitness technology and questionable fads. With the arrival of 2017, perhaps something a little different is required. If so, we’ve got you covered. Read on for a list of health and nutrition trends to keep in mind—and a few to avoid—to stay on track for a healthy, happy and effortless 2017.
According to the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), sprouting is the first new natural food trend expected to gain attention this year. Not only is sprouting a nutritious way to add nutrient-rich vitamins and minerals in your diet, but you can actually grow sprouts from the comfort of your own home. DIY sprouting is simple and affordable. The CHFA recommends the tiny green mung bean popular in Asian countries, and just one cup provides a full day’s intake of iron. To sprout these yourself, all you need are seeds, an airtight jar and water.
It may sound tough—if not impossible—to fully eliminate sugar from your diet. One starting point might be to make sure you’re consuming it moderately, since too much sugar is linked to diabetes, heart disease and obesities and can have other lasting effects on the body. Scientists are still debating why exactly sugar should be avoided along with processed foods containing large amounts of sugar. Some studies and doctors will still suggest alternatives like stevia, which contains zero calories and does not cause a blood spike like sugar does. Not a fan of artificial sweeteners? For natural options, honey and dates represent a safe and smart addition to your pantry.
Another DIY option for the health-conscious: kefir is a fermented milk product with a similar consistency and almost-identical taste to yogurt. It contains 30 different microorganisms, and is a fantastic source of probiotics and prebiotics. Make it at home with milk, kefir cultures and a cheesecloth, and pour over granola or in a smoothie. Kefir is also a great option after a workout to promote healthy digestion.
Another predicted health trend from the CHFA is a surge in smart and healthy carbohydrates. Although many people aim, around the new year, to avoid carbs as much as possible (or at least for as long as possible), it is possible to live a healthy life while following a carb-conscious (but realistic) diet. As long as you’re eating the right carbs, you can safely say no to the guilt. Instead of white bread, reach for bread made with ancient grains, which are nutrient-rich and fibre-packed, and will keep you fuller longer while satisfying your cravings. Or instead of fried potato chips, opt for beet chips or a snack containing complex-carbs. Don’t deny yourself snacks, we say – just snack responsibly.
A new year almost always involves far-fetched goals of hitting the gym five times a week, or finally kicking that habit of devouring chocolate bars on a nightly basis. But year after year, fitness centres see a drastic dip in membership come February, when real life gets in the way. Instead, set a fun fitness goal that you can train for with a friend. Obstacle courses such as Tough Mudder, the Spartan Race or a more family-friendly race are great places to start. Not only can you avoid boredom by switching up training (think: distance running to sprints, or weight training and yoga), but in the process you may even find something that you love and choose to pursue. If obstacle courses aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty more opportunities to try out a new fitness trend.
Fat, like carbohydrates, often gets a bad rep. When we think fat, we tend to picture slabs of bacon or blocks of butter. But fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat – as long as you’re ware of which fats are healthy to consume and which to stay away from. Certain fats, Omega-3s, are found in wild salmon and flax seed. There are also fats that help your body burn food efficiently, such as olive oil and walnuts. Of course, try to limit yourself when it comes to trans fats found in your favourite hamburger or pizza slice. Be mindful of what goes into your body, but don’t limit yourself from what really makes you happy.
London Drugs is proud to be partnering with Variety – the Children’s Charity through the selling of Gold Heart Pins in all our stores throughout January and February. Funds raised through the sale of these pins will go to help children across our country who need a helping hand! The money raised from pin sales stays in the province where it is collected, so by supporting Variety, you are supporting families within your own community.
Variety – the Children’s Charity is an international charitable organization that supports families who have children with disabilities and life threatening illnesses.
For more information on Variety – the Children’s Charity, visit:
The dawn of a new year always provides an excellent reason for stepping back, looking at what’s important to you, and refocusing your energy. For you millennials and the young-at-heart who may struggle especially with staying organized, and resisting the impulse to give in to the temptations of social media and instant gratification, this is especially important. Consider, if you will, the following tips to help you “adult”—and reach your goals—in this new year.
Learn to do your taxes. Get a head start this year (and give your accounting friend a break) by investing in an online tax program or installing tax software. Not only will these easy-to-follow programs help you avoid scrambling at the last minute, but they’ll give you an understanding of basic accounting you were never taught in math class.
Set a budget. It may be the most challenging goal of the year for many, but setting (and keeping) a budget doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. There are dozens of simple how-to budgeting tips on the web, but all you really need is access to a spreadsheet and some patience. Make sure to set a savings goal, track your spending and calculate essential and unnecessary expenses. Find more information here.
Invest in yourself. Just because you set up a savings plan and started reconsidering certain luxury purchases, you don’t have to make drastic changes. Even though you cut out buying a latte from your favourite café every day, don’t completely restrict yourself. Instead, invest in a good coffee maker and brew your own in the morning. Also planning on eating out less frequently? Great. But consider setting aside some cash, too, from your grocery savings in order to occasionally treat yourself to a nice dinner at a new or favourite restaurant. Doing so not only offers a good incentive to keep saving, but allows you to indulge once in awhile without breaking the bank.
Do what makes you happy. This may seem obvious, but only sign up for a gym membership if you enjoy lifting weights or the specific fitness classes offered. You may otherwise find it tough to stay positive–especially as you put stress on your body. Prone to shin splints or find marathons monotonous? Avoid running. Do you miss your bicycle and are antsy for the weather to warm up? Try out a spin class. Most community centres and fitness studios offer a free week trial, so test out a few locations until you find one that fits. Want to forgo a membership entirely? Pick up a yoga kit or follow a fitness DVD that suits your hobbies in the privacy of your own home.
Keep yourself accountable. In recent years, there has been a boom in fitness technology. If you’re an avid runner and want to improve your race times, invest in a GPS watch with numerous applications to suit your needs. More of a beginner when it comes to keeping active? Make sure you walk at least 10,000 steps a day with a smaller fitness device that covers the basics. Most fitness trackers on the market sync to your phone and allow you to challenge friends and family to some friendly fitness competition. This way, not only are you keeping yourself accountable for making healthy gains, but your friends will as well.
Get social. Although fitness trackers and devices can be huge motivational factors, nothing is more motivating than having a friend along for the ride (or run, or swim). Grab a friend and map out a local hiking trail, and make sure it’s open to the public and safe this time of year. Convince your roommate, partner or friend to try a new sport or activity that you’ve always thought would be fun. Or better yet, set a challenge and follow a workout plan together. Time goes by much more quickly with someone by your side to keep you motivated.
Storage is essential. Put your Tetris skills to use this year by organizing the messy areas of your house that cause you stress. This usually includes the kitchen, workspace, bathroom and bedroom. Although the old adage out of sight, out of mind may work for some, we say that clear storage bins are the way to go. Canisters that are easily stackable or slender are perfect to ensure freshness and make it easy for the household cook to grab what they need. Jars are ideal for smaller items like spices, and are extremely versatile. Use them to hold paper clips on your desk or Q-tips on the sink. Wicker baskets are also a great— and aesthetically pleasing—way to hold random household items like workout gear, bags or toys in plain sight.
Meal planning is not just for fitness gurus. There’s no need to purchase an expensive custom-meal plan from a dodgy website or infomercial. Meal planning is as simple as picking up a cookbook or scrolling through a food blog. Once a week, set aside some time to choose five to six meals that will get you through the week (leave one or two days for flexibility). Do the math and make sure you have enough food for leftover lunches and for anyone else who might be eating with you. Write out the ingredients you need for each recipe, consolidate the supplies you already have, and take a quick trip to the grocery store. If you have more time on your hands, or have a hectic week ahead of you, opt for large-batch slow cooker meals and prep the ingredients the night before. If you’re feeling even more keen, cook all the meals for your week in one day, divide into containers and refrigerate.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. We’ve got you covered with London Drugs’ Green Deal recycling program at our stores. With a receipt, you can bring back old electronics, batteries, plastic bags and bottles to do your part to reduce waste. Sort your home recyclables and compost with recycling bins and food scrap containers to make it easier to take out with the trash. Make sure you check which items are in fact compostable or not, and remember to switch out the bags to avoid unnecessary odours.
Spend time with loved ones. Whether it’s only for an hour to grab coffee with an old classmate from college, or by throwing a huge holiday party, make sure to set aside time for your friends. Haven’t talked to your grandmother across the country in a few months? Pick up the phone! Social circles tend to shrink with life additions like full-time employment, children and other commitments, but it’s critical to have a support system behind you. Plan a board game night with former colleagues or host a potluck brunch. Mix up some cocktails and fill each other in on what you’ve missed.
Give back on your computer or at a charity event with friends. Pick a cause that resonates with you and sign up to volunteer in whatever way you’d like, or simply donate money to an organization that needs it. Selfless love will not only make you feel good, but it will help contribute to a cause you believe in.
Make time for self-care. Perhaps the most overlooked, yet most important, tip of the year is to take time for yourself. While self-care and mindfulness have become buzzwords of sorts, they still pack a lot of truth when it comes to being happy. No matter how frantic work or school is, reserve at least half an hour a day for yourself. Pick up a book, drink some tea, relax in a bath or colour out any anxiety you may have built up over the day. Being an adult doesn’t mean neglecting the things that centre you – even if that means vegging out on the couch to watch a movie. Make 2017 an amazing year by balancing responsibility and order with awareness and leisure.
Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade
In 1919, four-year-old Rachel Rabinowitz is placed in the Hebrew Infant Home where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research on the children. Dr. Solomon subjects Rachel to an experimental course of X-ray treatments that establish the doctor’s reputation while risking the little girl’s health. Now it’s 1954 and Rachel is a nurse in the hospice wing of the Old Hebrews Home when elderly Dr. Solomon becomes her patient. Realizing the power she holds over the helpless doctor, Rachel embarks on a dangerous experiment of her own design. Before the night shift ends, Rachel will be forced to choose between forgiveness and revenge.
Inspired by true events, Orphan #8 is a powerful novel about the human capacity to harm – and to love.
Orphan #8 is a very interesting story that is hard to read at times knowing that it is loosely based on the author’s family history. It’s the story of a girl growing up in an orphanage in the U.S. in the 20’s. Story goes back and forth between her childhood and her as an adult. I enjoyed this book a lot, especially the history behind it. – Review by Carolynn
Loosely based on historical events, Orphan #8 tells the story of Rachel, a woman who has faced considerable hardships in her life. Told in 2 time lines, we learn along with Rachel that she was subjected to cruel medical experiments as a child. As she unravels the truth about her past, will she choose revenge or mercy, and are those the same thing?
Overall, I thought the book was pretty engaging. I read it over a couple days. However, the plot twists were somewhat predictable and the novel feels unresolved at the end. – Review by Melissa
Book of the Month
Every month we will be featuring a new book to be showcased in our Book of the Month. Staff members and friends will be reading the book and posting their reviews. We’d love to hear what you thought of these books as well. Post your comments and let us know.
Orphan #8 is available at London Drugs along with many other great titles and is on sale for the month of January.
We’ve all said it before – even if it’s only lasted for the first two weeks of January: “My resolution this year is to eat healthier meals and stop snacking on junk.” Even though a protein-packed and nutrient-rich diet may be ideal, the truth is that a low-fat life is not easy to sustain for everyone.
Thankfully, healthy eating does not have to mean drab and flavourless eating. The following recipes are designed to keep you fuller longer, provide ample nutrition, and satisfy any unhealthy cravings left over from the holidays.
During a busy workweek, it can be difficult to make time for a well-rounded breakfast that will get you through the day. While oatmeal has a reputation for being bland, there are countless variations that will allow you to switch it up daily. Add cinnamon, maple syrup, and dried fruit to your oats the night before, and allow your mixture to soak up all the goodness. The addition of chia seeds supplies an early morning dose of Omega-3s to allow for a bustling day ahead.
When you have a hankering for a big plate of Chinese food from your local restaurant, you may not regret it at first, but all that grease won’t settle well in your stomach. If you’re vegetarian, it’s difficult to find anything on the menu you can eat at all. Lettuce wraps can be made at home for everyone, and are even speedier than takeout. With hoisin sauce, Sriracha and soy sauce as a base, all you need is fresh lettuce, tofu and veggies of your choice. Meat lovers can even substitute chicken or shrimp to make it family-friendly.
Although squash is a staple of the fall season, they can usually be found at the grocery store year-round. Whenever there’s a significant cold spell in the city, nothing is better than turning on the oven and baking an aromatic, savoury-sweet dinner. This dish is extremely versatile: just add whatever protein you’re in the mood for, quinoa or rice, veggies on hand and toppings such as walnuts and parmesan cheese. Another easily-adaptable meal, roasted squash can also be substituted with bell peppers and zucchini.
Carb-cutting might seem near-impossible (or just unrealistic), but as long as you eat it in moderation, and you have no gluten sensitivities, there’s no harm in having pizza once in a while! Personalized flatbread (usually featuring a little less dough than a pizza crush) is one healthy— and delicious—way to curb your craving. Using health-conscious ingredients like organic sugar, and spelt flour (in addition to all purpose flour) can lessen the guilt and add to the flavour. Top your flatbread with hummus, sautéed vegetables, and a protein of your choice. Drizzle with a balsamic dressing for added sweetness.
When you’re looking for an extra boost of energy—whether training for a marathon or preparing for a presentation at work—it can be difficult to eat mindfully. It’s far too easy to load up on carbohydrates like pasta, or simply drink a protein shake and call it a day. Make sure you reap all the benefits from this protein and fibre-packed salad. Olive oil, sunflower seeds, apples and kale can be topped with breaded or grilled chicken, fish or pork. Add a handful of chopped figs for sweetness and sprinkle with hemp hearts for Omega-3s, iron and zinc.
For another vegetarian dish that will please everyone at the dinner table, grab that can of chickpeas you’ve been saving in your pantry and make this creamy curry. Canned tomatoes, coconut milk, tomato paste and spices make the sauce for this stew. Add eggplant, sweet potato and spinach to round it off. Served on rice or quinoa, this is a foolproof dish perfect for the winter. Hint: double the recipe and freeze a portion for another day.
Using just a handful of ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard, these peanut butter quinoa bars are great as a snack to throw in your bag, a quick breakfast on-the-go, or as a satisfying dessert after dinner. Substitute peanut butter with almond butter in case of allergies, and chocolate chips with raisins. Oats, quinoa, honey, coconut oil and chia seeds make this a jam-packed protein bar reminiscent of sweet blondies or granola bars.
Dark chocolate is not only acceptable as a healthy treat, but it’s also recommended for daily intake. It contains heart-healthy antioxidants, amino acids and releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. Of course, only 1 to 2 ounces of dark chocolate is needed per day to promote some of these health benefits, but don’t worry, we won’t tell if you exceed that amount. Dip dried apricot halves in melted chocolate and sprinkle with chilli powder for a fast and decadent dessert with a kick.
The most wonderful time of the year is nearly at an end, and if you’re like most of us, more than a few things need to be cleaned up. But getting your life back to normal doesn’t have to be anywhere near as stressful as last-minute gift shopping. Our hints below will help you make the transition from holiday season to clean-up without losing the joyful glow cultivated over the last few weeks.
Some say Boxing Day originated in the UK, as the day when the collection boxes for the poor were opened, and distributed. Other origin stories have it that Boxing Day was the day working people collected gratuities or acknowledgements of service for the year past, in the form of ‘Christmas Boxes.’ Either way, you can use the spirit of Boxing Day and Week to take a look around your home and see what you can box up and send to charity. And while you’re in the dark corners of closets you haven’t seen in years, a little organization can’t hurt either. This will make room for all the shiny new goodies from Christmas and give you a fresh start to the New Year while helping out someone in need. A true win-win situation.
If you have a backyard, why not consider digging a spot for a temporary home for your much appreciated Christmas tree? After the lights are taken down, simply plant your tree in the snow outside. The tree will give small wildlife a nice warm place to nest up among the needles during the winter. Once spring or summer hits, the tree will likely have dried out enough to have a bonfire with it for a fun Christmas in July celebration (festive outfits and eggnog milkshakes encouraged).
Make sure to save all the egg cartons from your Christmas baking. If they have long been recycled, throw a post-holiday brunch to get some new cartons to save. The small pockets meant for the eggs make great protective storage for delicate ornaments and can be labeled to plan accordingly for decorating next year.
Playing host for a dinner or party over the holidays? There are a few things you can do before the guests arrive to keep your cool as the meal heats up. Line your kitchen trash can with multiple bags, so when you take the first load out there is a fresh bag waiting for you. Have a helper set the table hours in advance and fill water glasses shortly before the doorbell starts ringing. Get a wicker basket, line it and keep it close to the trash can for empty cans and bottles. This will save you from collecting them off counter tops later, and it’s a more aesthetically pleasing version of the usual plastic tub. The little things really do add up.
We hope these hacks save you some stress as you continue to celebrate the holiday season. We wish you joy in the New Year from our London Drugs family to yours.