Updated: Feb 24, 2019
Written by Louise Baitson, Sports Nutritionist
It can be difficult to decide which foods you should and shouldn’t eat, especially with contradicting advice online. Nevertheless, it’s an important area to understand as there’s lots of evidence to suggest that food affects our physical health as well as how we feel. Improving your diet may help to improve your mood, give you more energy, help you focus.
As a sports nutritionist, one of the main tips I give my patients is to eat regularly throughout the day. Unsteady blood sugar levels make you feel tired, irritable and can increase cravings. When you eat the right foods regularly, you can keep your blood sugar levels steady. The best way to do this is to choose slow-release high energy foods, such as:
· Pasta and rice
· Oats and wholegrain bread
· Wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds
One of the best ways to set yourself up with slow-release energy throughout the day is to start with a satisfying and nutritious breakfast based around these high energy foods to kick-start your metabolism.
Throughout the day, make sure to have three main meals with snacks in between to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your metabolism active. This helps you stay focused with high energy levels and helps curb your cravings too, aiding in weight regulation.
"Nutrition is an important area to understand as there’s lots of evidence to suggest that food affects our physical health as well as how we feel"
Say no to sugar-highs
It is also important to try and avoid foods and drinks which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, causing cravings and mood swings. Foods such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks and alcohol should be reduced throughout the day to keep your metabolism and mental focus stable. It can take time to get used to new eating routines, so make these positive changes slowly to give your body time to adjust.
Listen to your gut
Keeping a healthy gut has a direct link with how we feel emotionally. Depending on the person, stress and anxiety can make your gut work very slowly, making you feel bloated and sluggish. For others, it can speed up, making you feel tired and uncomfortable, or needing the bathroom more often.
To keep your gut healthy, it’s important to include plenty of fibre, fluid and exercise in your day-to-day routine. Foods for a healthy gut are:
· Fruits and vegetables
· Beans and pulses,
· Yoghurt and probiotics
"You need protein in your diet to feel good in your mind and body"
One final but crucial tip is that you need protein in your diet to feel good in your mind and body. Proteins make up chemicals in your brain which are used to regulate your emotions and thoughts. They also keep you feeling fuller for longer which reduces cravings. Include a protein source in each meal and/or snack you have during the day, choosing from foods like:
· Lean meats and fish
· Cheese and soya products
· Nuts and seeds
· Peas, beans and lentils
Take Home Message
In summary, the key to eating healthy for a stable body and mindset is to eat the right foods regularly. Eat slow-release energy foods such as wholegrain carbs, include protein in your daily diet, kick-start your metabolism with a low sugar breakfast and include plenty of fluids and fibre to keep you and your gut happy.