Strategic Eating: The Right Food at the Right Time
You may have heard people say that warm milk can help you sleep. You’ve probably experienced the difficulty of staying alert after having pasta for lunch, and we’ve heard that athletes like protein.
There really are mood- and energy-altering chemicals in the food we eat. They can take effect in as little as 20 minutes. I’m going to share some thoughts about eating the right things at the right times.
You might want to tape this to your refrigerator.
Need a boost?
A high protein, low carb breakfast is your friend. And cut out as much fat as possible, because fat absorbs the helpful chemicals and diminished the benefits that actually get delivered to your brain. Two and a half to three ounces of protein will make you feel alert and energetic, thereby increasing your mental efficiency. You should eat about 2 hours before you need to be at your mental best.
Protein is for starting your morning, or getting the right mind boost for an important meeting. Also consider a high protein meal if you want to amp up before delivering a speech, or interviewing for a job.
No, twice as much protein won’t work twice as well. Your body can only transport a limited amount of chemicals. Stick with the small portions so your body can get you those chemicals quickly and easily.
Wanna chill out?
Carbs! But you knew that already. If you’re feeling agitated, bored, or fidgety, carbohydrates will help you calm down and focus. Here again, fat will slow the digestion of the calming chemicals, so consider crackers, bread, potatoes, pasta etc. that you haven’t slathered in butter.
You can use this strategy on your kids, too. If you are heading into an intense situation, give them some low fat carbs ahead of time. (Crackers, not cookies, because the fat in the cookies will slow the digestion and decrease the soothing effect.)
A handful of carbohydrates is a good idea before that “big talk” with your parent or partner, and if you want a little help falling asleep.
The jury is still out on “warm milk” for helping you sleep, because it’s mostly protein. Try a banana instead. The magnesium and potassium in bananas serve as muscle and nerve relaxants.
Chocolate. Yes, really. There are studies that say that eating chocolate can produce a euphoric feeling similar to being in love. Kinda makes you think about all that sharing of chocolate on Valentine’s Day, doesn’t it?
Leafy greens and brightly colored fruits and vegetables won’t affect your mood. Though their benefits for your body are significant, their effect on your brain is neutral.
And if you’re severely stressed, these tips may not help you. Your stomach may actually clamp shut and delay the release of the chemicals you need. Try carbs in liquid form, like soda pop or tea with plenty of sugar or honey to take the edge off.