If you’re like a lot of guys out there, this time of year means probably trying to enjoy the holidays and all the accompanying delicious treats while making it to January without getting sick or having to buy bigger pants! With that goal in mind, this holiday edition of Dude’s Foods is here to help you navigate the holidays.
In addition to weight gain, another common goal guys have this time of year is avoiding the seasonal colds and flus we pass around. And as luck would have it, a nutritional strategy that will help you maintain a healthy weight will also support your immune system and its natural defenses!
One main culprit in both weight gain and immune system dysfunction is the consumption of refined carbohydrates, particularly refined sugars. Sugar suppresses the immune system[i] and all refined carbohydrates including bread, pasta, pancakes and tortillas play a role in weight gain.
Because refined carbohydrates have been processed to contain only simple starches that are quickly metabolized by the body, they have a dramatic effect on blood sugar. Refined carbohydrates and sugar cause us to be hungry again sooner and crave more of these foods to bring our blood sugar back up, trapping us in a spiral of weight gain. The antidote to this problem is the body’s other source of energy, fats!
In contrast to carbohydrates and sugar, healthy fats and oils provide long-burning energy that promotes stable blood sugar and can actually help us lose weight. If we aren’t getting our calories from carbohydrates we’ve got to get them from somewhere, and healthy fats are the answer. When selecting healthy fats it’s important to buy organic because most toxins are fat-soluble and they become concentrated in fats.
In addition to promoting a healthy weight, dietary fat is also crucial to help us absorb fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamin D, which not coincidentally plays a critical role in immune system function[ii].
Good food sources of Vitamin D include:
- Dairy from grass-fed cows
- You could compromise and get grass-fed chocolate milk for a desert
- Eggs from pastured chickens
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Roast them with new potatoes with plenty of butter. Delicious!
Here a few foods to avoid:
- Try to eat a smaller dessert with lots of (lightly sweetened or unsweetened) organic whipped cream, a great source of healthy fat!
- When you do drink, try to choose beverages lower in sugar and carbohydrates. Avoid beer and sweet mixers like sweet & sour mix and margarita mix. Instead, go for a skinny margarita or a vodka and tonic.
- While you’re drinking, snack on some Rosemary Walnuts (see recipe below) for a salty treat that will help keep blood sugar stable.
- Maybe don’t eat the whole pie, but don’t let feelings of guilt or self-reproach deny you an enjoyable holiday either.
Finally, here is a delicious and easy recipe for spicy rosemary nuts, perfect for taking to a holiday party. The cayenne will warm you up and the healthy fats will keep you warm!
2 cups walnuts [or pecans/almonds]
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Melt butter in a medium pot and add rosemary, salt and cayenne. Toss walnuts with butter and spices, spread on cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Happy holidays all you dudes out there. Enjoy the time with your families!
Aaron Mello is a Master Nutrition Therapist and founder of MoodFood Clinic. He can be contacted at 720-683-8715 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or view his website at www.moodfoodclinic.com.
Nutrition Therapy Institute
NTI creates optimal health through nutrition education.