“Talk to me about your sleep” is one of the questions I ask my nutrition clients. I help women who may be finding it difficult to eat well or who’re struggling with their weight as a result of a new job or life change. This question gives me insight into a key area to target.
While some say, “Great! I get 8 – 9 hours a night,” many will say, “Ok; not great.” What we eat, and drink, can impact the quality of our sleep. And visa-versa; how well we sleep can influence our food choices the next day.
Since leptin and ghrelin, hormones that regulate our appetite, shift during sleep, not getting enough zzzs can create an imbalance. Studies show that less sleep is associated with low levels of leptin, an appetite suppressor AND high levels of ghrelin, an appetite stimulant, particularly driving our craving for calorie-dense, carbohydrate-rich foods. Let’s take a look at five different ways we can support our health by curbing cravings.
1. FILL UP ON FIBER
Fiber helps keep you fuller for longer by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties. Berries, beans, nuts, seeds and oatmeal are all great sources. Opt for fruits and vegetables that have a skin (apple, berries) vs. a peel (banana, orange) for an extra fiber boost.
- Use fresh berries instead of jam
- Add toasted rolled oats into soups or salads
- Ask for ‘double veggies’ when ordering a pizza.
2. PACK IN PROTEIN
Protein takes more energy for us to breakdown than refined carbohydrates, helping us to feel full and keep our hunger at bay. Depending on activity level and body composition, we need ~0.8 grams/kg of protein/day, meaning a 150 lb person needs ~54 grams per day. Power up with plant-based proteins like edamame, hemp seeds, tofu and soy milk for a bonus boost of anti-inflammatory foods.
3. SET DOWN THE SALT
While giving food flavor, sodium stimulates our appetite and masks thirst, encouraging us to eat more and drink less water. Top sources include bread, packaged foods, fast food, cured meats and canned goods.
- Choose “low sodium” or “no salt added,” products
- Dilute salty dips by blending in white beans
- Get dressings, cheese or sauce on the side
4. AVOID SKIPPING SNACKS
When we go for a period of time without eating, ghrelin, our hunger-stimulating hormone, starts to kick in. Secreted mainly from the stomach lining, it signals our brain that it's time to eat. Ghrelin works on a cycle; levels build before we eat and drop after a meal. Eating consistently throughout the day will help to stabilize hunger levels.
5. HAVE HEALTHY ON HAND
Bundle of celery or a bag of chips? One of the reasons why we give into cravings is that these foods are convenient, easy to grab and tasty. Start stocking your fridge with handy, healthy snacks like whole fruit, raw nuts, hummus and veggie sticks.
- Precut produce and store in the center of the fridge to make them easy to grab & go.
- Place produce near a dip or nut butter to make snacking simple.
- Portion out nuts and other bulk items into single servings
This blog post was written for and originally published by Moonlit Skincare 🌟
If you’re like me, you don’t have / want to spend a ton of time finding new recipes, meal prepping, cooking etc. It can feel overwhelming. And I’d rather spend time with friends, my husband and running around with Dexter on the weekends.
To help prevent #mealmonotony and also keep meal prep to a minimum, I often make the same things week-to-week, experimenting with variations of each dish depending on what I have on hand.
Lately, I’ve been making lentil pasta, adding chopped spinach, tomatoes and basil before mixing in chili flakes with a dollop of dairy-free mayo. I’ll add some pan-fried tofu and call it a day. It’s satisfying, super simple to assemble and I can mix it up by adding in different spices, herbs or veggies. It also gives each dish a slightly different flavor and nutrition perks.
If you’re short on time but want to maximize your nutrition, here are a few ‘quick wins’ to add to your next meal.
For both sweet and savory dishes, consider adding in spices such as turmeric, cinnamon or ginger. Spices contain compounds that function as antioxidants, helping to protect our body by controlling levels of inflammation.*
Containing the compound curcumin that helps to combat inflammation, sprinkle dried turmeric onto roasted veggies, guacamole or green smoothies. Boost absorption by including turmeric with fat-rich foods such as olive oil or avocado.
Packed with antioxidants, one active compound in cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, may positively support blood sugar balance. Sprinkle into coffee, yogurt or oatmeal; add to warm cooked dishes like mashed sweet potato, or roasted squash.
Containing several compounds that may help with nausea and acid reflux add ground ginger to tea, toast, or fresh fruit; splash fresh ginger juice into sparkling water, yogurt or smoothies for a refreshing kick.
2. FANTASTIC FLAX
Rich in dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids as well as phytochemicals, flax is a fantastic way to make your next meal nutrient-dense. Mix ground seeds into oatmeal, stir into spreads or add whole seeds to stir-fries, smoothies or baked goods.
3. SKIN MAGIC
Foods rich in dietary fiber keep us fuller for longer, helping to keep appetite in check and cut back mindless munching. Since much of the fiber is found in the skin of our fruits and veggies avoid peeling them before cooking and choose those with a skin (berries) vs. a peel (banana).
*Note: further research is needed to make clinical recommendations.