Even after a nutritious breakfast, many of us waver when it comes to lunch and dinner, sometimes skipping meals or giving into unhealthy cravings. To be our best and sleep our best, we think it’s important to take a comprehensive view of what’s on our plates throughout the day and here’s how we’re doing it….
For optimal health, the Mediterranean Diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruits and pulses, has been proven to offer immediate benefits, including increased energy and lower cholesterol levels. Plus, The Mayo Clinic links this plant-based eating plan to reduced risk factors for heart disease.
What’s especially compelling about the Mediterranean Diet is its holistic approach; for example, limiting red meat and dairy portions is just as important as enjoying meals with family and friends, being physically active and even savouring a glass of polyphenol-rich red wine (just the one, mind you!).
To maintain any healthy meal plan, it’s crucial to avoid the trap of sugary or deep-fried treats when feeling stressed or even bored – the immediate taste may seem pleasurable but that initial rush soon wears off and can have long-lasting negative effects not only on your body (empty calories and weight gain) but also on your mental health.
For pick-me-ups with no negative repercussions, we love healthy snacks, such as a piece of magnesium-rich dark chocolate, a handful of protein-packed nuts or some apple slices spread with almond butter.
The link between gut health and mood is gaining credence and fermented foods are part of this correlation. Fermentation, a process that lets live bacteria survive in food, creates probiotics. These digestive superstars support the growth of healthy gut bacteria and, in turn, increase levels of serotonin, the body’s “happy” hormones, to lift moods. Take note: not all fermented foods are good sources of probiotics so say “no” to yeast-rich beer and bread in favour of healthy options like kimchi, kombucha and yogurt, which is now readily available in vegan formulations.
Making small changes – more plant-based meals, less sugar, no eating after 8 pm – and focusing on the quality of the food we eat has a powerful ripple effect that reduces stress levels and makes feeling and sleeping better a whole lot easier.