How to Fight Back Against Life’s Challenges with Your Diet
A lot of things can throw your wellbeing off track; sleep deprivation, pregnancy, public speaking – you name it and life will hurl it your way. However, you can fight back against the disturbances of life through your diet, so we gathered the best tips from wellness experts to show you how.
1. Fighting off a cold: When the sniffles come your way, your best defences are warm fluids and garlic – so adding garlic to soup combines the best of both worlds. The warm liquid will help to thin the mucus, ease your dry cough and fend off that fever-induced dehydration. Samantha Heller, clinical nutrition coordinator at the Centre for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Connecticut, adds, ‘Garlic has disease-fighting compounds that can give your body a little boost.’
2. Can’t sleep: If a good night’s sleep eludes you, try a wholegrain-and-protein snack to help you unwind. The carbohydrates in whole grains increase the serotonin in your brain, helping you to relax, while the amino acid tryptophan found in proteins can also assuage insomnia. Roughly an hour and a half before you go to sleep, try eating half-a-cup of wholegrain cereal with skimmed milk, hummus on a whole-wheat pita or a rice cake topped with tomato and a slice of turkey breast.
3. Trying to conceive: When you want to have a baby, complex carbs and protein can aid fertility by keeping your insulin levels stable. Jeremy Groll, MD, co-author of Fertility Foods, explains, ‘High insulin levels prohibit normal ovulation.’ Dr. Groll also recommends talking to your doctor about taking prenatal vitamins, and filling up on folic acid-rich foods to reduce your baby’s risk of spinal-cord defects. For your carb and protein duo, go for a fruit smoothie with yogurt and protein powder. Then, top your chances up with asparagus, leafy greens, oranges, and fortified cereals to get your folate fix.
4. Public speaking: A high-protein, low-fat meal is the perfect recipe for concentration and calming nerves. According to Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, ‘Amino acids from the protein will not only help you with the ability to learn and recall information, but they’ll also enhance your ability to concentrate and stay alert.’ Go easy on the greens as the fibre can make you feel gassy or bloated. Instead, incorporate some chicken, fish, beef, or tofu with some veggies or whole grains. Good options include a lightly dressed tuna salad with whole-wheat bread or grilled chicken on a small bed of greens.
5. Preparing for a workout: 30-60 minutes before you exercise, eating a light snack with carbs and water will give you staying power without wearing you down. Judith J. Wurtman, PhD, author of Managing Your Mind and Mood through Food, notes, ‘It takes the edge off hunger and gives your body some calories.’ If you’ve got an hour or more before your workout, try yoghurt with a few whole-grain crackers. If you have less time, half a banana or six ounces of orange juice turns into energy (glucose) faster.
6. Hitting the road: Whether you’re sitting for hours in a car or a plane, a low-calorie meal that travels well is your best bet. You don’t need a lot of calories as you won’t be expending much energy, and you won’t be able to keep foods fresh so you want things that are non-perishable and portable foods, while healthy enough to keep you away from fat-filled fast foods. At the airport, go for a pre-packaged green salad with chicken or soup and a whole-wheat roll. For a short flight, Wurtman recommends a protein bar with about 15 grams of protein, while Heller suggests trail mix made with whole-grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruit for a long road trip.