November is a time when we pause to give thanks and reflect on what we’re grateful for. One thing you may not remember to put on that list -- your own body! It works hard to take care of you, so return the favor by feeding it tasty, healthy food. Aim for a balance of protein, healthy fats, and carbs, with plenty of colorful fruits and veggies throughout the day. Here are five foods to eat to show your body some love this month. Yogurt
You only get one skeleton, so it’s important to treat it well. Yogurt is a rich source of calcium and vitamin D, which promote good bone health. With 8 grams per cup, yogurt is also a great source of protein. Strained varieties like Greek and Icelandic yogurt can provide up to twice that much. Another bonus: Yogurt is filled with probiotic bacteria, which can promote good digestion and immune system function. Go for the plain variety and skip the added sugar and other additives in flavored yogurts. Make it interesting with cinnamon, ground flax, chia seeds, chops nuts, or fresh fruit. You can add a touch of sweetness with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
Creamy avocados are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. An added bonus: consuming adequate fat helps keep your hair shiny and your skin healthy. The combo of fat and fiber in avocado helps you feel full and energized. They’re also an excellent source of potassium, which plays a role in muscle function and can help alleviate cramps. Because potassium counteracts sodium (hello, water retention), avocado makes a great bloat-fighting food. Try sliced or mashed avocado on toast or use it to make guacamole. Avocado can also be used to make creamy desserts like chocolate mousse. Just keep portion sizes in mind—a half of a medium will set you back about 150 calories, so consider it a substitute for other calorie-dense spreads and add-ons like cheese or mayo.
The protein and fat in eggs help you stay full, which can boost concentration and staves off hangry meltdowns—key for a busy day when you’re juggling all the things. At about 70 calories apiece, they also offer instant portion control. Eggs are rich in vitamin D as well as vitamin A, B-vitamins, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. They also provide choline, a nutrient essential to many body processes. Don’t be afraid to eat the yolks—that’s where most of the good stuff is. The whites are packed with protein, though, so if you’re trying to keep your consumption of whole eggs down, try mixing one whole egg with a few whites. Poached, fried, scrambled, hard-boiled or made into an omelet or frittata—it’s hard to go wrong.
Spinach packs in a variety of nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, which support eye health, immune function, and many other body processes. The vitamin K in spinach supports bone health and plays a role in healthy blood clotting. Spinach is also rich folate and iron, helping prevent anemia. The magnesium and potassium are important for overall health and can be especially helpful for dealing with headaches and muscle cramps. If that weren’t enough, spinach provides fiber and even protein—3 grams each per 3-cup serving. Enjoy raw in a salad or cooked into soup, stir-fry, pasta, or with eggs. You can also throw some in a smoothie or juice.
Sweet potatoes are a superfood cliché for a reason. Aside from boasting a high fiber content (4 grams per cup), they’re also packed with vitamin A and potassium. The bright orange color from the beta-carotene gives skin a gorgeous glow—great when you’re short on sun exposure. Sweet potatoes’ mellow flavor works in sweet and savory recipes alike. Cut into wedges, toss with coconut or olive oil, and roast until browned on the outside or soft on the inside. Sweet potato puree can also be used in foods like mac & cheese, oatmeal, and brownies. Baked sweet potato is also delicious topped with goat cheese. No time to wait for your to bake or roast? No problem! Simply prick a few times with a fork and cook into the microwave until soft, about 5 minutes.
Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and writer in New York City. She blogs at Keeping it Real Food and is a regular contributor to a variety of print and online publications.