Wiring Warriors nutritionist Shona has written a series of articles on this site about the importance of brain healthy food and drink. There is no doubt that certain foods can improve mental functioning and others can create ‘brain fog’, poor sleep and change of mood. OK so Christmas is only a few days right? No problem eating badly for a short time- after all it’s so good to eat all those unhealthy foods and drink too much…right? Well – firstly brain healthy food can be even more delicious. Secondly you can see the damage done to your body after the holiday by looking in the mirror. You can’t see your brain and the effects that may be accumulating and appear in future!
So I thought I’d suggest some of the recipes and a menu that I regularly use at this time of year. In most cases the food isn’t harder to prepare or more costly. Substitute a few of the worst brain foods for these rather than try to change everything. For instance, Pavlova is only fat and sugar… substitute double chocolate walnut cake with strawberries; ham is often full of preservatives and fat…substitute succulent spicy turkey.
My menus are based on using the most beneficial Brain foods. Research points clearly to foods that are brain enhancing. There are many claims about super foods – but I have curated the ones that can be used at Christmas and that most specialists agree on. Try to avoid include refined sugar, preservatives and saturated fats and include the following:
Dark chocolate – Great news but beware, not all chocolate is good for your brain! Choose one without dairy ‘fillers’, added sugar and at least 70% cocoa beans . Check the labels. I use Whitttaker’s Dark Ghana. Rich in Flavanols. https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate/
Nuts – especially walnuts. Good source of anti-oxidents and Omega-3. http://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/brain-healthy-foods-nutrition/nuts-brain-health
Berries – all berries but especially Blueberries. Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory. http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20120309/berries-boost-brain-function
Oily fish – especially Salmon and Tuna. Provides Omega-3 http://scienceline.org/2014/03/why-is-salmon-good-for-your-brain/
Olive oil – Extra virgin and uncooked. Contains powerful anti-oxidents. http://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/brain-healthy-foods-nutrition/5-rules-olive-oil-and-brain-health-getting-most-out-olive-oil
Turkey – calm mood is one of the benefits of turkey. The myth about it sending people to sleep is more likely the after effects of over-eating!
Red Wine – Not too much! However, there is quite a collection of evidence that cites the Resveratrol in red wine as beneficial and even offsetting dementia and memory loss. However, more than a couple of glasses would probably negate the benefits! White wine, beer and spirits seem to have no advantages at all. If you can’t drink alcohol or don’t like wine – you can get the same effect by taking Resveratrol supplements! http://memory.foundation/2015/05/18/red-wine-good-for-the-brain/
Here are some of my ‘go to’ recipes for Christmas. The menus are outlined here and the recipes can be found on the recipes page. Note that most of these are also Gluten and dairy free.
Creamy Coconut oats with blueberries and walnuts (GF/DF)
Fresh berries with yogurt and nuts (Can be GF/DF)
Poached eggs on wholegrain toast with spinach (DF)
Lunch / dinner
Gravlax with mustard and dill sauce (GF/DF)
Succulent spicy turkey with salad or green veg (GF/DF)
Raw beetroot, orange and fennel salad (GF/DF)
Grilled steak with veg or salad (GF/DF)
Double chocolate walnut cake with strawberries (GF/DF)
Amoretti trifle (GF/DF)
Ice cream pudding and berries (Can be GF/DF)
Gluten and dairy free fruity Christmas cake (GF/DF)
Filo sweet mince plait (DF)