Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Saturday, December 7, 2013

You are what you eat… you sleep as you eat.

You are what you eat… you sleep as you eat.

As much as we do not want to admit it, our daily diets compose our essential beings… from how we act, react, energy level, focus, sleep, think, treat others…

You would never add low-grade gas to a high-performance luxury car, correct?

So why do the same to your own body?

Sure, it can be easy to say to yourself, “I will eat healthy. I will take care of myself.” But ultimately, what is holding us back? Ignorance to nutrition? Lackadaisical attitude to working out? Fear of change?

“A year from now you will wish you would have started today” - Karen Lamb

Why wait until the ball drops to welcome in 2014? Tomorrow is not promised. If given the opportunity to make positive changes in your life, swallow your pride and embrace the advice. It is not difficult… really.

Back to it: sleep. Insomnia is a miserable struggle that a plethora of individuals struggle with in life. Although the research is a bit spotty when it comes to which foods help or harm sleep, anecdotal evidence does suggest that certain items consumed right before bedtime are more likely to be "sleep promoters" while others may be "sleep stealers," says Russell Rosenberg, Ph.D., CEO of the National Sleep Foundation.

The following is a list of potential sleep promoters/stealers. Granted, no two people are alike and what affects one may or may not react another. However, you will never know the positive power of change unless you actually take action, take responsibility, stop playing a victim and make a change.



1) Cherries - one of a few natural foods to contain melatonin, the chemical that helps control our body's internal clock - drinking tart cherry juice resulted in small improvements in sleep duration and quality in adults who suffered from chronic insomnia

2) Milk - contains the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to the brain chemical serotonin. Although controversial, many believe that tryptophan and serotonin might make it easier to sleep.

3) Jasmine rice - ranks high on the glycemic index, meaning the body digests it slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream.

4) Fortified cereal - carbs in general are good for sleep. I am not advocating white bread and cake, but try a bowl of Kashi/shredded wheat/oatmeal, which contain "good" or complex carbs. Other complex carbs? Quinoa, barley, and buckwheat.

5) Bananas - help promote sleep because they contain the natural muscle-relaxants magnesium and potassium; also, contain carbs which aid in sleep.

6) Turkey - like milk, turkey contains tryptophan, a chemical that can help trigger some zzz’s. Granted, the amount of turkey that one would need to consume to fall into a deep slumber would be excessive; however, a moderate amount may help to push in the general direction of “snooze land.”

7) Sweet potatoes are a sleeper's dream… not only do they provide sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates, they also contain that muscle-relaxant potassium.

8) Valerian tea - some people hold that valerian tea along with motherwort, chamomile, and catnip brews (none of which contain caffeine), will help make you drowsy.


1) Bacon Cheeseburger - fat stimulates the production of acid in the stomach, which can spill up into your esophagus, causing heartburn. Fatty foods can also loosen the lower esophageal sphincter, the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus, making it even easier for acid to get in all the wrong places.

2) Wine/Alcohol - it metabolizes quickly in your system and causes you to wake up multiple times during the night. One study found that a glass of bourbon or vodka mixed with caffeine-free soda at bedtime increased the amount of time individuals spent awake during the night by 15 minutes. It also reduced nightly sleep time by 19 minutes and diminished quality of sleep significantly.

3) Coffee - contains caffeine, which is a central nervous stimulant. Translation: Drinking Java too close to bedtime will keep you tossing and turning at night. Granted, people differ in their sensitivity to caffeine and that is usually based on how much caffeine you are accustomed to consuming. If in doubt, drink your “Cup O Joe” in the morning hours.

4) Dark Chocolate - a Hershey's special-dark bar has 20 milligrams of caffeine, about the same as half an ounce of espresso. Chocolate also contains theobromine, another stimulant that can increase heart rate and sleeplessness.

5) Red Bull - an eight-ounce Red Bull energy drink contains about 80 milligrams of caffeine or equivalent to a one-ounce Starbucks espresso. Five-Hour Energy packs 200 milligrams of caffeine into just two ounces, which means you might as well be imbibing 16 ounces of regular coffee. In some individuals, caffeine can take up to eight hours to wear off.

6) Soda - typical soda drinks like Pepsi and Coke contain citrus as well as sodium benzoate and other chemicals which can aggravate the gastrointestinal tract and promote acid reflux, not a recipe for a good night's sleep… caffeine too.

7) Indian Curry - spicy and high-fat are a recipe for a guaranteed sleep-wrecking evening. Spices can also cause heartburn.

8) Chicken or any type of protein - digestion is supposed to slow by about 50% while you're sleeping but if you eat a lot of protein, you digest even more slowly. Instead of focusing on sleeping, your body is focusing on digesting. Adding a carbohydrate to the protein can tip the balance back towards sleep.

Bet you just learned a thing or two.

Quick bedtime-snack that is easy, able to re-warm and sleep-motivator:

1 cup oats - ground into fine powder
1 cup Organic apple juice (unsweetened)
4 cups water
1 pinch salt
1 heaping Tablespoon cinnamon
1 handful of raisins (may use other dried fruit or eliminate)

Combine the first five ingredients and bring to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Allow to simmer for about five minutes (oatmeal will thicken). Add raisins and stir to incorporate. May be consumed immediately, or stored in Tupperware. Brilliant for a mid-night snack, as the oatmeal is rich in whole-grain carbs, low in sugar and full of fiber. I also enjoy sprinkling oatmeal with different fruits (strawberries, bananas, blueberries), as well as hemp and flax seeds.

"If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse." - Jim Rohn


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