My motto—especially when it comes to nutrition—is moderation. There aren’t any “bad” foods in my opinion because, in moderation, there’s room for anything. I carry my motto to the Thanksgiving table, too—a little bit of this, a small bite of that. The problem is, there are so many choices and, inevitably, I end up overeating.
We’re all guilty of overindulging sometimes, but loading up on calories forces our bodies into overdrive as they try to undo the damage done by the harmful free radicals produced as we digest food. (Free radicals attack cells and can promote the development of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.) And, of course, the more we eat the more free radicals we produce.
Talk about putting a damper on Thanksgiving! Here’s the good news: recent research suggests that there’s a (delicious) way to rebound from the damage of a rich meal and reduce free radicals...add these 4 items to your menu!
1. Drink orange juice.
Flavonoids, the antioxidant-like compounds in OJ, may offset the heart-damaging effects of a calorie- and fat-laden meal, suggests a 2010 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the study, people who drank orange juice with a high-fat, high-calorie breakfast (51 grams fat, 900 calories) had lower levels of harmful free radicals and other inflammatory markers associated with heart disease after the meal than participants who drank plain water or sugar water and ate the same breakfast.
2. Eat fruit.
If you've indulged in a decadent meal, follow it with fruit. Eating antioxidant-rich fruits—including berries, grapes, kiwi and cherries—helps minimize the harmful free-radical damage that occurs after a meal. Eating caloric meals without antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables can have harmful effects over time.
3. Drizzle vinegar.
Having a tablespoon of vinegar with your meal, perhaps drizzled on your salad, may temper the spike in blood sugar that occurs after eating a big, carbohydrate-rich meal.
For most of us, a steep rise in blood sugar triggers an equally rapid drop—which stokes appetite. This sugar surge is particularly a problem for people with diabetes, who can't clear glucose effectively (over time, excess glucose in the blood damages tissues).
4. Drink wine.
The antioxidants in red wine may reduce the negative impact of high-fat foods by lowering levels of a compound—produced in the body after eating fat—that's linked with heart disease. Cook with red wine or enjoy a glass with dinner. But remember, moderation is key!
How do you undo the damage of a big, rich meal?
Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as nutrition editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.
Related Links from EatingWell: