OK - I know what you're thinking. That I'm about to tell you to skip the cookies this year. Wrong! Read on...
Many of the foods we will be eating over the next few days will be rich - and delicious. Full of fat and sugar and part of our holiday traditions. Believe it or not, I’m not going to dissuade you from eating them! Traditions are important, and wonderful food is meant to be enjoyed – without guilt.
But I am going to give you a couple of hints on how to reduce some of the negative effects of these foods.
Rich meals generate free radicals inside our bodies, inducing inflammation which can thicken our blood, make cholesterol more toxic, and reduce the ability of our arteries to dilate. This all happens over about 4 hours after eating a meal. Eat 3 rich meals a day and you spend your entire day awash in inflammation – and at heightened risk of developing heart disease.
So what can you do – practically – to help mitigate these reactions?
Add spices to your dishes. These can serve as powerful antioxidants that blunt the generation of free radicals and all their downstream consequences.
Cloves, ginger, rosemary, sage, cumin, turmeric and paprika.
So spice up those homemade gingersnaps with a little more ginger and cloves. Stuff your stuffing with rosemary and sage. And bake those sweet potatoes after tossing them in olive oil and sprinkling them with cumin, turmeric and paprika.
And make sure you use your breakfasts and snacks as antioxidant replenishing opportunities. Step One Foods are a great option here because they are all full of antioxidants. Step One’s Strawberry Banana Smoothie is highest of all – and it’s my choice for breakfast or snack on days when rich meals are inevitable. But I do have to admit that I cheat on the smoothie part – I just scoop out some vanilla yogurt into a bowl, sprinkle the mix over top – and throw in a handful of blueberries (or raspberries). It’s my delicious, nutritious, satisfying flame retardant.