There is significant science associating sleep and nutrition. While food choices can affect sleep, there’s evidence that suggests sleep can also influence diet.
Weight change has been associated with inadequate sleep, whereby appetite-regulating hormones are altered.
Imagine waking up after a restless sleep. You are tired, and you realize you are craving carbohydrate-rich foods. In this scenario, your body is looking for an immediate energy source. In order to properly fuel such a day, it is recommended that your pair those needed carbohydrates with fat and protein. The goal is to give your body the fuel it needs while avoiding a carb-induced sleepiness. While carbohydrates may not be labeled as “snooze foods,” they actually make tryptophan (a protein that causes sleepiness) more readily available to the brain. Ensuring each meal has a mixture of protein, carbohydrates and fat is ideal.
Read more on Nutrition and Sleep from the National Sleep Foundation.
EatRight.org also boasts a great article How Sleep Habits Affect Healthy Weight.
Macronutrient Ratios in a Diet
There's a lot of press on additives. While ingredients are usually top of mind, one of the main points The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement regards is that of containers. Some of the biggest additive "offenders" were nitrites used to cure meats, BPA which is used to line most cans, and phthalates used in plastics. The statement also called for action on the part of our government for tighter regulations on these chemicals so that we don’t have to be afraid of the food we put in our body and the products our food gets packaged and stored in. Does this mean you should never eat bacon again? Or throw away everything in your kitchen made of plastic? Of course not! However, you can make a few small changes to improve your family’s health.
While it is always a good idea to get be familiar with food safety guidelines, summer is an especially good time to get a refresher on such rules. Temperatures outside rise and family travel picks up, which means food transport and storage will take a little more consideration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans get sick from food-borne illnesses each year, so pack your beach or road trip snacks cautiously.
Some key points to note include not leaving food sitting out for more than two hours, or one hour after temperatures reach 90°F. If you are packing a cooler, be sure to clean it out first with soap and warm water to minimize bacteria growth. In general, you want cold food to remain cold (<40°F) so be sure to include ice on your packing list. Some public beaches, parks or rest areas may lack fresh water facilities, so ensuring you have
hand sanitizer is also a good idea. Basic Food Safety Standards can be found here.
Cheyenne is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in the Charleston, SC area.