Having a food column where I can write about food and share recipes, along with some rambling about my thoughts and life, has to be on my top 10 list of favorite things to do. Combine that with having a food column that will be printed on a holiday, especially one as important as Christmas, is like a gift. I could choose to write on recipes you could include on your Christmas table (morning or evening), share some ideas of what to do with leftover holiday foods after the feast is over, write a heart-warming tale of Christmas memories gathered around the table or even discuss party food for those after Christmas gatherings many are able to do before going back to work.
As tempting as all those story ideas sound, and as much as I would love to write on them, I’m writing instead on foods that can be used medicinally to help heal your body. Not very festive, I know, but stay with me. In the last few months, I’ve worked beside fellow-employees who talk through clogged sinuses, repetitiously sneeze and make sounds of horn-like instruments when blowing into tissues. Outside of work, I haven’t fared any better. I might be at my grocers, sneaking grapes to see if their sweet or perusing the paper towel aisle, trying to select just the right design for my kitchen, when another shopper will casually push their cart close and before I can even think about bolting, they cough or sneeze, without covering!
This morning I woke to the realization that all the hand washing and vitamin C that I have ingested, almost daily, have not been enough to fight off my foe, the common cold. Instead of surrendering, I came to work, armed with tea, more vitamin C and berries full of antioxidants. There are things that happen to the body when you get a cold, and most of them I can tolerate. If I’m cold, I wrap up in something soft and warm; if I’m tired, I try to slow down and nap if possible, if I have a sore throat, I drink hot tea with honey…you get the idea. One thing I can barely endure however is the clogging of my sinuses and throat by mucus, a word as horrible sounding as it is to cope with.
When dealing with this goo, food can be your first line of defense. First, there are foods to avoid as they can thicken the mucus, making your symptoms worse or even making breathing difficult. Dairy products, red meat and sugar are the top three adversaries to avoid. Starchy fruits and vegetables can also be culprits in creating excessive mucus in the body and avoiding bananas, potatoes and corn will help keep mucus production at a lower level.
Just as there are foods that increase mucus production, there are foods that can reduce its production and help alleviate its symptoms. Hot brothy soups, hot teas (especially chamomile), can help in thinning the mucus, as will citrus fruits, onion, garlic, celery, leafy greens, brussels sprouts, broccoli, berries and baked or grilled fish.
I hope this Christmas everyone stays happy, healthy and full of Christmas Spirit and joy. If, while enjoying your Christmas, you’re attacked by the sniffles, ward off mucus and its effects by eating foods that will help your body fight back and recover.