Boosting your brain, body and attitude with food is a simple and delicious way to stay focused and driven throughout the day. It is important to not only know what to eat, but also how much and when. All of these factors are crucial when it comes to keeping your brain fired for any task.
Your brain’s favorite, and only, source of energy and fuel are carbohydrates. Yes, that is right; carbs are actually good for you. They not only fuel your brain, but they also energize your body and mood. Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains, whole fruit and even beans/legumes. These carbs have fiber and nutrients attached to them, which allow your body to process them slower, keeping you full and fueled for longer.
Although carbs might be your brain’s favorite fuel source, pairing them with a lean protein is key to creating balance in your body. Protein takes longer for your stomach to break down, which keeps you full while preventing over eating and excess snacking. This in turn, keeps your mind focused on your work, and not your growling stomach.
When choosing your complex carb and protein food, remember to stick to smaller serving sizes. If you want whole grain crackers, read the nutrition label and see how many crackers are in one serving. If you want peanut butter with those crackers, check to see how much peanut butter is in one serving, the truth might shock you. If you want to add in veggies or fruit, the limit is endless due to their high nutrition and low calorie content.
Eating brain food when you’re hungry but not yet hangry, is the perfect time to replenish your body and brain with fuel. Assess your hunger level on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the least hungry and 5 being the most. Choose to snack when you’re at a 4 and your stomach isn’t ready to eat itself. When done with your snack/meal, wait 20 minutes before reaching for more. Twenty minutes is the time it takes for your stomach to tell the brain that you’re full.
Choosing the right foods, what time you eat and how much you eat, are all crucial for good health while staying alert and focused. Food replenishes more than just your body; it re-energizes your mind, gives your balance, and keeps you feeling positive to accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Contributed by Guest Blogger, Sara Oberle, RDN, LD, Extension Teacher, Nutrition Connections, UNH Cooperative Extension