Being the foodies we are, we love Thanksgiving just as much as anyone else. But animal proteins, sugar and other refined foods (hello third-helpings of Turkey and apple pie) tend to cause inflammation in the body, leading to sluggishness and general discomfort. Not exactly the ideal factors to get out there for a post-meal hike or surf, to say the least.
If you are like us, you won’t want to sacrifice your time outdoors over the long holiday weekend, in lieu of treating yourself with some yummy dishes that you only consume once or twice a year.
So, in addition to stocking up on those Thanksgiving goodies, you may want to pick up a few of the foods below to balance yourself out pre- and post-holiday.
Leafy Veggies: The Master for Restoring Balance
When at the grocery store ticking through your list, it’s helpful to remember that “choosing green” is always the best way to counteract any imbalances in the body.
Green foods found in nature -- much like nature itself -- are primarily associated with “the power of renewal,” healing the damage done by excessive intake of rich foods, like animal proteins and processed foods.
Chlorophyll, the phytonutrient that gives plants their green quality, is the key healing element found in leafy greens, and actually all plants, even citrus fruits. Chlorophyll counteracts toxins, and specifically works to reduce inflammation of the stomach and intestines by promoting healthy intestinal flora, improving liver function and activating enzymes.
The greener the plant, the greater the amount of chlorophyll -- so stock up on spinach, arugula, kale and collard greens, as well as avocados, celery, beets and broccoli.
Fill up on a big salad pre-Thanksgiving festivities. Get extra benefits from whipping up your own salad dressing using extra-virgin olive oil, spices and unrefined apple cider vinegar, like Bragg’s. Apple cider vinegar has a bitter flavor and detoxifying properties that will balance out any stagnation in the body from excesses in the diet. Plus, it’s great for digestion.
Or make a smoothie and incorporate a handful of leafy greens. Store it in a reusable bottle for your post-Thanksgiving adventures. Tip: Add pineapple, which also helps with inflammation, and ginger, which increases energy circulation and metabolic rate. Both pair nicely with greens.
Spirulina & Micro-Algae
To take it to the next level, you can tap into micro-algae foods, such as spirulina, chlorella and wild blue-green algae -- which are all incredibly high in chlorophyll. Spirulina, which is also high in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), is particularly good for increasing metabolism and burning fat -- which may come in handy after a day or two of eating calorie-dense foods. Add them to a healthy smoothie or fresh juice.
Flax Seeds & Walnuts
Flax seeds, one of the richest sources of plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids and metabolism-boosting GLA, help relieve inflammation and strengthen immunity.
Add flax or walnuts -- which also contain high levels of omega-3 oils -- to your smoothies, sprinkle on oatmeal or greek yogurt, or add them to healthy muffin or bread recipes.
Tip: Flax seed can also be used as an egg or butter substitute, so if you are baking something for that Friends-giving, try this out: For every 1 tablespoon of fat, substitute 3 tablespoons of flaxseed flour or meal.
It’s no secret that this super spice has healing properties.
With turmeric, it’s easy to think the more the merrier, especially since the spice has been trending and having a moment in the spotlight. But actually, a little dash goes a long way in terms of health benefits -- in fact, this ancient spice and many others that fall into the “healing spices” family, should be used sparingly to get the best results.
From soups to teas and lattes, you can add a sprinkle of this richly colored spice to just about anything you are making -- even Thanksgiving dinner -- and reap it’s anti-inflammatory goodness, which is found in its primary compound, curcumin.
Leftover Veggies & Cranberry Sauce
A quick reminder: You shouldn’t just be focused on the day after Thanksgiving. Work some magic into a few dishes for the day-of meal, and you'll get a head start.
You probably didn’t know, but everyday veggies like carrots, squash, sweet potato, yams, and even cranberries can help you bounce back from over-indulging in all the other foods set out on the table.
High in beta-carotene, carrots have many benefits, among them relieving indigestion and inflammation. Squash, Sweet potatoes, and yams are also recognized for anti-inflammation properties (although should be eaten in moderation due to their natural sweetness).
Cranberries’ bitter flavor aids in digestion.
Tip: try substituting a more health-focused recipe in place of grandma's traditional cranberry sauce -- which typically calls for a whole cup of sugar. Instead, use honey or maple syrup to sweeten the concoction, and feel free to keep snacking on those leftovers.
Bonus Tip: Drink Tons of Water
Water intake is often an after-thought, but if there’s ever a time to make it a priority, it's at the end of the year when holiday festivities are at an all-time high.
Especially if those extra helpings of Turkey are looming or second (and third) glasses of wine are flowing, drinking at least eight glasses of water throughout the day, and the days after a heavy meal, will flush out the body and renew energy, priming you for what's most important: getting outside.
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