School is back in session! Out with the relaxing beach days of summer and into the swing of routines of homework, sports, and everything in between. The long hours of studying for your students, tiring practices for fall sports, and the extra chauffeuring around for parents can lead to added stress in families. Although some stress is healthy, too much can actually become harmful overtime. This is called inflammation. No worries, however! There’s actually foods you can eat to help fight off stress! These foods are called anti-inflammatory foods. They contain key antioxidants, phytochemicals, and nutrients to help reduce the stress response within the body. Each are low in calories, easy to add to a dish or eat on their own, and super tasty the whole family will enjoy! Try serving up a few of these different anti-inflammatory foods when packing lunches or at the dinner table to help everyone continue to stay healthy all fall long.
Low Sugar Foods -Sugar causes an inflammation effect within the body. This means it causes the body to think there is a foreign substance attacking it. Too much sugar intake overtime can lead to high blood sugar, diabetes, weight gain, heart disease, etc. Limit packaged products and try serving fresh, frozen, or dried fruit for a sweet treat with added benefits, not added inflammation.
Vegetables – Loads of leafy greens on the plate not only add color, but also nutrients. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard help to increase blood flow within the body. Increased blood flow is an important component in reducing stress within the body. Try tossing a new leafy green into a bowl of salad, or sautéing spinach and tossing into a whole grain pasta dish!
Plant Based Proteins – Meat and meat products are more challenging for the body to digest. This extra effort can also lead to more inflammation in the body. I’m not suggesting eliminating meat protein sources from the diet entirely, but substitute a few meals a week. Try meatless Monday or Black Bean Taco Tuesday. Simply swapping one meat entrée for a plant based dish can help lower inflammation.
Flavor with Herbs and Spices – Cinnamon, Turmeric, Cocoa Powder, Basil, Oregano, Garlic, the list is HUGE!! These are a few of my favorite “sprinkles of health” as I call them. Each are packed with major sources of antioxidants in a mere 1tsp. I try to incorporate herbs and spices at each sitting. Cinnamon on my oats, turmeric in my bean tacos, cocoa powder dusted on a frozen banana or in coffee, and basil, oregano, and garlic mixed into a salsa or marinara sauce. A sprinkle every day can pack amazing health benefits. Could not get any easier, or tastier than that!