Trying to eat the right things throughout the day can be challenging enough. Can we say office donut party? Yeah, I’m a sucker for the chocolate-sprinkled variety. But it can be even more difficult to remember when we should stop to eat. Because there’s more to healthy eating than just food; time matters as well.
A recent story on The Today Show featuring nutritionist Joy Bauer gave us the dish on all the things we should and shouldn’t be eating and drinking and at what points throughout the day, in order to increase our performance for various activities like exercise, sleep and sex.
First up, exercise. If you’re like me you’re up and at the gym early leaving little time for a snack. But according to Joy that’s OK. If you’re moderately exercising for about an hour or less, she says you don’t need to ‘fuel up,’ especially if you’re trying to lose weight. However, if you are hungry and need a boost before hitting the gym, Joy suggests grabbing a banana for several reasons: 1) it’s portable; 2) it contains potassium, which we lose when we sweat; and 3) it’s fairly low in calories.
If you aren’t a pre-gym eater, a beverage with caffeine might be a better option like coffee or tea. Drinking caffeine 30 minutes or so before a workout has been shown to give your body a boost to help you move longer and perform better.
When it comes to sleep, several things can help us unwind. Reach for foods containing the natural sedative tryptophan, which is an amino acid that produces serotonin in our brain to make us drowsy. Cheese is one food containing tryptophan. And to balance it out, consume with a carbohydrate. Joy suggests a rice cake topped with cottage cheese and cinnamon, or part-skim ricotta and sliced strawberry. My personal favorite is cereal with low-fat milk. So satisfying and just the right amount to tide me over ’til morning.
And for a beverage? Caffeine-free tea like chamomile or peppermint can calm our body before bed.
Let’s talk sex. To help get you in the mood, consider dark chocolate-covered strawberries. Chocolate contains compounds called flavanoids which help boost labedo and increase blood flow to all parts of the body. And drinking a little alcohol doesn’t hurt either. Consider champagne or wine for further relaxation. I love a good red wine to help me unwind.
Other activities we might want to eat specific foods for? Job interviews, parties and car rides. Before going to an interview, drink a smoothie with greek yogurt and berries, or some scrambled eggs with salmon. The protein will keep you alert and focused, and the omega 3s will promote long-term brain power. Before a party, stave off hunger with a little snack to avoid overeating once you arrive. Joy recommends hummus with fresh veggies for protein and fiber. And for long car rides, go for something with caffeine to wake you up, like a latte. Tea can also do the trick if you’re not a coffee drinker.