Fuel your day
Vicki Koenig, MS, RD, CDN
When folks ask me what foods will boost, relax or heal, I say, “Body, mind and soul: food affects them all!”
A good start
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gets the brain and body moving. Eating breakfast is associated with a more alert mind and a leaner body for children and adults. Aim for complex carbohydrates and some protein to sustain you.
Power lunch or dinner
Do you need the mental advantage at an important meeting? What should you eat? Eat lean protein to stimulate production of neurotransmitters that promote alertness. Three to five ounces of lean protein can be enough. Eat the protein first; limit the carbs and fat. Fat slows down digestion and can put you into a “food coma”! Consider:
- Caesar salad with grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp or roasted tofu. Have the dressing on the side and use sparingly. Ignore the croutons.
- Lightly sautéed or grilled fish, tofu or chicken with vegetables. Limit the starch, or have a small serving of a whole grain.
You need fluids, carbohydrate and protein to replenish energy and repair muscles. A Stonyfield Farm yogurt or smoothie has good carbs and protein and is also a good potassium source. The more intense the workout, the more carbs needed to replenish stored glycogen, our human “starch.”
Eating carbs allows the amino acid tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is made into the soothing neurotransmitter serotonin. When you eat carbohydrates and make more serotonin, a bad mood can disappear, at least temporarily. Try Lemon Cheesecake for a real treat.
Cure for the blues
Folate can keep you nutritionally happier. Are you getting enough leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, cereals and legumes? For a natural pick-me-up, try hummus with romaine lettuce and whole-grain crackers. These are good sources of folate. Studies show eating favorite foods like chocolate can stimulate endorphins in the brain. How about a Stonyfield Farm Chocolate Underground yogurt with folate-rich wheat germ for an endorphin-raising blues eraser?
Detox your body
Think hydrating and liver-supporting like grapefruit, lemon, broccoli, yogurt, leafy greens, celery and olive oil. Foods containing liquids fill you up while helping you let go of toxins. Try Stonyfield Farm’s Soups along with salad greens, or broccoli and legumes with lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Stonyfield Farm yogurt with 6 live active cultures helps maintain a healthy intestinal barrier against everyday toxins. Eating moist, high-fiber foods like berries, fruits, vegetables, soup and dips with Stonyfield Farm yogurt helps sustain a healthy body.
Whether eating for energy, relaxation or nutrition, “Let food be your medicine.”
— Hippocrates, 460 B.C.
For more information:
- Benton D. “Can functional foods modify mood?” Food Science & Technology Bulletin: Functional Foods. Nov 2005, Vol 2, Issue 5.
- Markus CR et al. “Carbohydrate intake improves cognitive performance of stress-prone individuals under controllable laboratory stress.” Br J Nutr 1999;82:457-467.
- Markus CR et al. “The bovine protein a-lactalbumin increases the plasma ratio of tryptophan to the other large neutral amino acids, and in vulnerable subjects raises brain serotonin activity, reduces cortisol concentration, and improves mood under stress.” Am J Clin Nutr Jun 2000;71(6):1536-1544.
- Roberts SH et al. “Folate Augmentation of Treatment – Evaluation for Depression (FolATED): protocol of a randomised controlled trial.” BMC Psychiatry 2007;7:65.
- Shirreffs SM et al. “Milk as an effective post-exercise rehydration drink.” Br J Nutr 2007;98:173-180.