Three Types of Food My Body Craves after a Holiday Weekend
Holidays. Holy Days. Work-free days.
We. All. Love. Them.
But do our bellies? :)
I find that often during holiday celebrations - whether it be a Memorial Day cookout, a birthday party, or the new year - healthy food and celebration don't always go hand-in-hand. For some odd reason.
While I maintain that we all owe it to our bodies to eat as healthfully and cleanly as possible - most of the time - I also choose to not be the person who refuses a piece of birthday cake or a slice of pizza (or three) or a (grossly) over-sweetened celebratory drink just because it's unhealthy. After all, we always have tomorrow to make up for it, right? ;)
So, what do we do when tomorrow strikes?
After a day of (or weekend of) celebrations, I generally turn to three main foods to help my body "recover" from whatever I ate, or overate, the day before:
1. Greens (read: [Dark] Green, Usually Leafy, Vegetables)
I'll start by saying that, as a general rule of thumb, I try to eat at least one half cup of dark-green leafy vegetables on a daily basis. As you might have guessed by now, I am not perfect, nor do I strive to be; so, this is merely something I aim to do, while knowing full well that some days I simply will not eat dark-green leafy vegetables whether by choice or by circumstance.
But back to our holiday weekend: why dark-green leafies? Well, some may argue over the significance of what we call the micronutrients (aka vitamins and minerals), but I will argue that they are, literally, vitally significant. Here are two websites hosted by medical doctors with further readings on the myriad roles that the various micronutrients play in our bodies: World's Healthiest Foods and Joel Fuhrman.
If you've just returned from your enlightenment journey on these two sights (hehe), then you have probably just learned that dark-green leafy vegetables tend to reign supreme in what we call "nutrient density". Nutrient density means simply that per quantity of food, you are receiving the greatest numerical value in various (micro)nutrients.
After a weekend of eating unhealthy foods (in nutrition we call these "empty calories" because the foods provide calories, but very small, if any, amounts of micronutrients) - pizza, BBQ wings, chips, ice cream, cake, hot dogs, soda, you get the picture - our bodies are asking for some good nutrition. In my opinion, what easier way to provide a mega-dose of nutrients than to eat a heaping pile of kale (or several)!?
To kick-start your next leafy green adventure, follow this link to my go-to leafy green recipe.
2. Citrus Fruits
Who doesn't love a giant burst of citrus?? The main reason I reach for a citrus pick-me-up after a weekend of poor food choices is because of the Vitamin C and the known anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative properties of citrus fruits. While citrus fruits are a super source of Vitamin C, know that you also get lots of Vitamin C from various veggies (broccoli, tomatoes, kale, to name a few). So in addition to the C, I reach for the citrus for the yet-to-be-fully-illuminated anti-oxidative synergistic effect of these fruits.
The reason for wanting anti-oxidative capacity in my foods is because junk foods are pro-oxidative. Junk food - in a variety of ways - causes the process of oxidation to take place in your body cells. Oxidation lays the foundation for so many common diseases, including but not limited to: cancers; cardiovascular diseases; autoimmunity disorders; neurodegenerative diseases; and diabetes. I don't love to speak in absolutes, but as far as we know, the only way to stop oxidation is to...stop it. Hence, anti-oxidant-rich foods like citrus fruits.
As an important side note: fruits and veggies, generally speaking, are your best sources of anti-oxidant minerals and molecules.
My favorites are grapefruit, lemon, and lime. In the morning I'll simply squeeze a whole lemon or lime into a 16-ounce glass of water and drink the whole thing! I love to eat grapefruits and oranges by the slice. My mom loves mangos, pineapples, and kiwis! What's your favorite??
3. Water and Electrolytes
Continuing on this micronutrient kick, after a lon