Yes, I'm sure most of us feel a pang of distain, a shot of envy or a touch of grinch-like nastiness at some point over the holidays (which can be overcome through mindfulness btw...) BUT in this post I am referring to the sharp, pungent taste that many of us westerners are missing from our every day diet- especially during this sugar ridden season!
What many people don't know is that this particular taste can be the key to avoiding sugar comas, mood swings and general lethargy during the holidays- let me explain why!
When you have a sugar craving, it can mean several things- that you're thirsty, you need to sleep or relax OR that you need certain nutrients to give your body energy. Overall, if you give your body healthy nutrients throughout the day you shouldn't be craving sweets.
It comes down to biology- taste buds are bundles of nerve endings, and our bitter taste buds connect to the vagus nerve, which stimulates the functioning of the digestive organs. So by eating bitter foods you will improve digestion, therefore providing your body with more of the nutrients it may be missing, therby cutting down on cravings! Symptoms of a digestive system crying out for bitters include bloating, burping, flatulence and constipation. These symptoms in particular indicate low stomach-acid production. As we age, stomach-acid production drops and this inhibits absorption of nutrients such as protein, iron and vitamin B12- leading us to exhibit symptoms include peeling fingernails, dry lips, general fatigue and lethargy as well as an increased susceptibility to parasitic and fungal infections. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to be MINDFUL of the foods we are giving our bodies!
The problem with the holidays, as we health conscious folks already know, is that sweets are inevitably a part of the celebration. When we reach for sweets it starts a rollercoaster ride of quick highs and lows in our mood and energy, causing even more stress and tension in this already tightly wound season.
The solution? Make a conscious effort to eat more salad. Yes, leafy greens will provide a body satisfying bitterness that you are really craving and give you vital, powerful nutrients that your body is searching for!
Where to start? Try spinach. Kale, broccoli, arugula, beet greens, bok choy, collards, swiss chard, mustard greens and watercress are also amazing options. Try the winter greens salad recipe I've given you below as a test of this theory- the next time you're at home and have a sweet craving, have a serving of this salad instead of a cookie and probably within 15 minutes your craving will probably have subsided. Worth a shot right?
In health, Ariel Richards, R.H.N.
Winter Greens Salad (serves 4-6)
1 large head kale, stalks removed and thinly sliced
1 ⁄2 head Swiss chard, stalks removed (save for soup!) and thinly sliced
1–2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup chopped golden raisins (or pomegranate seeds)
1 ⁄2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Massage kale and Swiss chard with 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp sea salt (to break down the fibers) for at least 2 minutes. Once the salad is wilted, toss in apple and raisins/pomegranate. In a separate bowl, toss the walnuts with thyme, 1/2 Tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and pepper. Toss the walnuts with the salad. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
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Ariel Richards, R.H.N.