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MomTalk.com November 19, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Food Choices Have Significant Impact on Moods, Energy Levels

These days, most Americans are well aware of the health hazards associated with a less than perfect diet.

We realize that eating too many cheeseburgers and fries can super-size our waistlines and clog our arteries.

YOUR HEALTH BY RALLIE MCALLISTER, M.D., MPH

These days, most Americans are well aware of the health hazards associated with a less than perfect diet.

We realize that eating too many cheeseburgers and fries can super-size our waistlines and clog our arteries. We're well-informed about the cancer-fighting properties of fruits and vegetables, and we know all about the bone-building benefits of milk and other calcium-rich foods.

While much is known about the impact of diet on long-term physical health, far less is understood about the ways in which foods influence emotions and energy levels in the short run. "The link between the foods that we eat and how we feel is very real, and it is much stronger than many people suspect," said nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., author of Food and Mood: The Complete Guide to Eating Well and Feeling Your Best.

If you want to maximize your chances of feeling upbeat and energized throughout the day, your best bet is to start the morning off with a nutritious breakfast. Although bacon, eggs and sausage may fill you up, these high-fat foods can also slow you down.

To optimize the performance of your brain and body, the morning meal should be high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat, with a small amount of protein. "A good breakfast can be as simple as a bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and a piece of fruit," noted Somer.

While a high-carbohydrate meal is perfect for recharging your brain first thing in the morning, it may not be the best fuel for lunch. Eating lots of pasta and bread in the middle of the day can make you sleepy and interfere with your ability to concentrate for hours afterwards.

"Lunch should include at least one serving of a protein-rich food, whether it's meat, beans, or a low-fat dairy product," Somer said. "The carbohydrate-containing foods that you choose should be minimally processed, like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables."

If you don't plan to take an afternoon nap, it's a good idea to avoid overeating on your lunch break. Consuming more than 1,000 calories at any meal can make you drowsy.

If your lunch leaves you feeling lethargic, you might be tempted to drink a cup of coffee or a soda for a quick pick-me-up during the afternoon hours. There's no doubt that small amounts of caffeine can temporarily boost your mood and energize you, but not without some negative consequences.

The initial java jolt is often followed by mild symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, which can include fatigue and irritability. If you drink another cup of coffee or soda to prevent the inevitable letdown, you can get caught in a vicious cycle.

Because caffeine lingers in the body for hours, it can interfere with your ability to get a good night's rest. Consuming coffee and other caffeine-containing beverages throughout the day not only makes it harder to fall asleep at night, it also makes it harder to wake up the next morning.

"Quick fixes really don't work," said Somer. "It's never a good idea to rely on caffeine to boost your mood and energy levels; you should look to your diet."

Eating several small meals and nutritious snacks each day is a good place to start. Refueling the body and brain with high-quality food every four hours or so helps combat fatigue and create a sense of emotional well-being.

Cookies, candy, and other sweet treats are popular snacks, but they're not the best choices, since they can cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar levels. The temporary burst of energy that comes from eating sugary foods is typically followed by an energy crisis. Nuts, raisins, granola bars, and yogurt are better choices, since they don't wreak havoc with your blood sugar, or your energy levels.

Alcohol is another substance that can rob you of energy. Having a mixed drink or a glass of wine or beer may help you relax and unwind in the evening, but drinking more isn't necessarily better.

Consuming even small amounts of alcohol can disrupt normal sleep patterns, leaving you tired and grumpy the next morning. The more you drink, the worse you're likely to feel.

Drinking plenty of water, on the other hand, can significantly improve the way you feel and function. "One of the first signs of mild dehydration is fatigue," Somer explained. "If you want to increase your energy levels, sometimes all it takes is drinking more water."

Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., is a family physician in Kingsport, Tenn., and author of "Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom's Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim." Her Web site is http://www.rallieonhealth.com.
COPYRIGHT 2006 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, Health & Wellness, Women's Health,


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