During quarantine, possibly more than before, it is important to rest and relax. Sleep is vital to health. Lack of sleep can impact food choices and nutrition, among other things. When you don’t get enough sleep, the hormone leptin, which signals feelings of fullness, decreases, and the hormone ghrelin, which signals feelings of hunger, increases. This means you may feel increased hunger and possibly overeat without even realizing it. When not refreshed after a good night’s sleep your appetite and cravings may be more intense; this makes it more likely you’ll make poor food choices that are high in sugar and processed carbs. Those foods lead to insulin and glucose levels that spike and then crash, which leaves you even more tired and fatigued. And the cycle keeps going and going.
- Eat for energy: It can help to eat small meals and snacks every few hours rather than three large meals a day. This approach may reduce fatigue by providing a steady supply of energy and nutrients.
- Eat balanced snacks and meals. Carbohydrate rich foods may result in a blood sugar spike, then collapse. Combining a carb rich food with protein and healthy fats allows for a gradual increase in blood sugar. For example instead of just snacking on pretzels, include a protein like peanut butter (or nuts) or string cheese.
- Drink water and rehydrate: Dehydration can cause fatigue, so taking in more liquids can increase alertness and make you feel more awake. Start your day with a glass of water and continue drinking throughout the day. Keep a water bottle with you at all times to help make this an easier habit.
- Eat light meals: Avoid heavy, high-fat, rich meals at lunch and dinner; these can make you feel weighted down.
- Have snacks: Choose a snack that combines a nutrient-dense carbohydrate with a lean protein or healthful fat. An example is a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread.
- Prepare food in advance: Preparing food in advance can help you feel more organized and ready to tackle the day as well as avoid those less healthful foods that are more tempting when you are sleep deprived and hungry. Prepare food the night before or batch cook several meals worth of food on Sunday or another day of the week.