When you’re down, it’s tempting to reach for the comforting foods you may remember from childhood – like candy or ice cream – but the problem is these foods will ultimately make you feel worse, a top expert says.
“What you eat really does affect your mood. When you eat healthier, you do feel better,” Dr. Charles Platkin, Ph.D., tells Newsmax Health.
“If you eat foods that are high in sugar you get a temporary lift, because your insulin spikes. But it also goes down too quickly, leaving you feeling worse than before,” says Platkin, director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center in New York City.
The solution is to eat healthy foods, which keeps your insulin – our hormone that turns sugar into energy – balanced, adds Platkin, who is a bestselling author and writes “The Diet Detective,” a nationally syndicated column.
"To make sure you are eating healthy – not consuming added sugar – you really do have to be a detective, because food manufacturers are very skilled in hiding sugar under other names on labels,” says Platkin.
According to Platkin, such names include: corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, glucose, fructose, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, molasses, natural sweeteners, polydextrose, sucrose, syrup, turbinado sugar and xylitol.
"One way to avoid this is to eat whole, fresh foods, not those which are processed and loaded with preservatives and chemicals," says Platkin.
People also are apt to turn to high-fat or fried foods in an attempt to boost their mood but this is also misguided, says Platkin.
“It’s much better to seek out foods that are high in fiber because this promotes satiety, which is the feeling of being full longer,” he adds.
Here are the foods that Platkin turns to for a quick pick-me-up:
Vegetables. Whether they are cooked, steamed or raw, vegetables area great choice, because the sugar they contained is released more slowly. Broccoli, for instance, is very versatile, and baby carrots and peppers are great raw, they are crunchy and delicious.
Whole-wheat crackers. Crackers made from whole wheat are high in fiber, which makes you feel full. Be sure that they are made from 100 percent whole wheat, and that the label does not say “multigrain” or “made with whole grains,” because there may be just a few grains, mixed in with refined flour. Also avoid products with added sugar or other hard-to-pronounce ingredients, which denote processing and chemical additives. The brand Ak-Mak is a good choice.
Fruit. Fresh fruit is especially healthful with the peel left on because the fiber will help balance the sugar. Apples, pears, nectarines and peaches are good choices. Just be sure to limit the amount you eat because fruit metabolizes as sugar.
Popcorn. Corn is an excellent whole grain, just be sure that you pop it yourself, or use an air popper. If you use microwaved popcorn, read the ingredients to avoid anything artificial, such as butter flavoring. Use a flavored spray instead.
Protein. A small amount of protein is a good choice for a quick energy boost. Lean cuts of chicken or turkey, prepared without skin, fat or breading, is a good choice. A small portion of lean meat or fish also works, as long as it’s been prepared in a healthful way.
Nuts. Eating nuts before going into a meeting, or before an activity, is also good for extra energy. Watch the amount, though, because nuts have a high fat content. Often, just two or three nuts will do it.
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