It’s said that “You are what we eat.” Healthy food gives you pep, but the extra sugar and empty calories we consume around holiday time can run a body down.
The often sugary, starchy, and processed foods found on many of today’s Thanksgiving tables are a far cry from the whole vegetables, grains, fruits and natural meats eaten on that first Thanksgiving in October 1621. Is it any wonder we’re sleepy, cranky or hyper after chowing down on all that refined food?
Toxic-free/Natural Living blogger and president of Moms Aware, Andrea Fabry, feels that all the sugar consumed over the holidays can have a disastrous effect on one’s mood. She mentions Dr. Catherine Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition, says:
“Though sugar doesn’t actually contain opiates like heroin, it affects us in very much the same way because it makes us release our own endogenous opiates.”
In other words, we resolve the sugar rush letdown by eating even more sugar, so we can feel good again—until the crash.
Fabry was inspired to create the non-profit Moms Aware after her family had to evacuate their home in 2008 due to a toxic mold infestation. Her ideas on how to “live healthy in a toxic world” remind us to be good stewards of our bodies and health.
Read on for her 5 easy ideas. See more at Moms Aware. And give thanks always.
1. Eat Less
Eat what you want, but savor your food and eat slowly. This will help you to know when you’re getting full. Eat to 80% capacity to help avoid that sluggish, food coma feeling that comes from overeating.
2. Make a Healthier Dessert
Fruit is naturally sweet and doesn’t need much sugar to gussy it up. Try a fresh fruit platter, fruit pies and crumbles, baked apples with walnuts and raisins, or wine-poached pears. Skip the crust and make a pumpkin or winter squash “custard”. Coconut oil is getting press for its health benefits; find dessert recipes at Free Coconut Recipes.
3. Try a Healthier Appetizer
Vegetable dips, like hummus or guacamole, are easy to make and packed with nutrition. Serve with raw crunchy veggies or whole-grain corn chips. Substitute some of the sour cream in creamy dips with plain Greek or drained plain yogurt. Toasted pumpkin seeds are fun to crunch on.
4. Consider Adding a Fermented Food
Fabry says healthy bacteria from probiotic foods help stimulate the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, which helps to calm the nervous system. Try adding in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, soft cheeses (chevre), or drink Kefir. Fabry suggests the holiday recipes page at Cultures for Health if you want to incorporate fermented foods into your holiday meal.
5. Go with a Lower-starch Alternative
Starch is complex carb, i.e. a string of simple sugars. Too much starch has the same “crash” effect as too much sugar. Try mashed potatoes made from waxy red potatoes, mashed cauliflower, or brown rice. Cook your food with good quality fats like coconut oil, butter/ghee, or olive oil to help stabilize blood sugars, suggests Fabry.
Simple Mediterranean Yogurt Dip
- 2 cups plain yogurt, regular or Greek
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 peeled and diced English hothouse cucumber
- 2 Tb. chopped fresh dill
- 1-2 Tb. chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or mint
- 1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
For thicker dip: In the refrigerator, drain yogurt overnight (or several hours) in cheesecloth or paper-towel lined sieve. Reserve the whey to use in baked goods, smoothies or oatmeal.
Blend herbs, salt and optional garlic into the yogurt. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with crunchy raw veggies, pita wedges, or crackers.