TELL YOUR TURKEY TO STUFF IT! By Shanna Arno

 In Nutrition

The Holiday season is here and the question for many will be “How can I make healthy choices about what I eat and still enjoy the sweetness of the season?”  Thanksgiving brings the onslaught of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and of course let’s remember the pies, pumpkin, pecan, apple, oh my! Then as Christmas approaches, friends are sharing baked cookies and fudge and boxes of gifted chocolates rest in the open for anyone to sneak a treat.

What types of foods are good to eat?

Proteins are important in our daily diets and are good for the body if you are eating the right kind. Proteins help repair the cells in your body as well as promote growth of healthy cells especially during development in young bodies. When proteins are digested the amino acids are left which the human body needs to help breakdown food. Amino acids are found in animal sources such as meats, milk, fish and eggs as well as in plant sources like soy, beans, legumes, nut butters, and some grains.

Vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals to include in healthy eating choices. Leafy greens contain fiber which helps control hunger and blood sugar swings by slowing absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream after meals. There are many greens rich in fiber and calcium which contributes to healthy muscle function. Kale is loaded with antioxidants that appear to protect brain cells according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Sweet potato and cauliflower contain nutritional vitamins and antioxidants that contribute to healthy brain function. Broccoli is a wonderful source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and phosphorous, and can assist to detoxify the body.  Choosing a few of these delicious veggies is a great way to aid in a healthful diet.

Fruits are low in calories and fat and are a great source of simple sugars, fiber, and vitamins which are essential for optimizing health. Fruits contain strong antioxidants that help boost immunity levels. Consuming fruits daily has been known to protect the body from memory loss, wrinkling of skin, and hair loss. Apples for example, contain nutrients and antioxidants that are essential for optimal growth and are a snack low in calories. Bananas are easily digestible fruits that contain simple sugars supplying energy to the body and are a good source of vitamins and minerals that can work to prevent cramping muscles, help control heart rate and blood pressure.

Whole Grains can be very healthy as long as you are not eating refined carbohydrates found in white bread, candy, cookies, and other junk food and drinks. Healthy whole grains and oats can help protect your heart, prevent diabetes and other disease such as Alzheimer’s.  Brown rice is a great source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The seed Quinoa (keen-wah) is packed with more protein than any other grain that when cooked contains an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Helpful Tools to utilize for healthy food choices.

A human body is just like a car. If it is well cared for with the best gasoline and oil inside of it, tended to regularly and kept running clean, it will run more optimally than if we use cheap gas, not change the oil, put garbage in it don’t clean it out and treat it poorly. A huge contributor to making bad choices during the season is portion size. If you are able to choose everything in moderation your body will run smoothly without breakdowns.

  • Smaller plate: a smaller portion is a brilliant tool to use when sitting down to eat.
  • Drink plenty of water to aid in digestion and hydration of the body as well as assisting the body to know when it is full.
  • Visually observe the food spread before sitting down to eat so you be intentional in your food choices.
  • Inhale the delicious scent of the turkey or dessert before taking a bite to allow the body to prepare for consumption and aid in digestion.

Enhance the taste of the food by taking the time to enjoy each bite; chewing slowly makes it easier for your body to begin breaking down food.

By allowing the senses to be active the body and mind will work together to make good eating decisions. The body responds to good eating decisions as the muscles begin to become malleable, the skin starts to perk up, bags under the eyes go away, the skin it seems lighter and fuller and more hydrated.

It is amazing the role nutrition plays in the human body. Whether you have one house to visit or a few to travel to this Holiday season, remember some of these great tips to help optimize your health while enjoying the company of friends and loved ones.

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References:

http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/nutrition/protein-in-diet/overview.html

http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_adopt_a_brain_healthy_diet.asp

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moderation

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