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- A 30-year-old woman submitted an average day of eating for review by an expert for Insider’s Nutrition Clinic.
- She told Insider she’s fed up with bloat and poor sleep.
- Nutritionist Serena Poon recommends adding more protein and fat to meals to avoid sugary snack crashes.
- If you’d like to have your diet reviewed by an expert, fill out this form.
- The advice in this article isn’t a substitute for a professional medical diagnosis or treatment.
30-year-old Allison said she’s tired of feeling lethargic and bloated and wants to eat in a way that will give her more energy and help her sleep better.
Allison submitted an average day of eating for Insider’s nutrition clinic, where qualified dietitians and registered nutritionists analyze and offer advice on readers’ eating habits.
Allison told Insider she walks at least 10,000 steps a day for both her mental and physical health, and she’s kept off the 15-20 lbs she lost last year. She also has celiac disease, so she is strictly gluten-free and doesn’t like coffee or eggs.
Certified nutritionist Serena Poon told Insider that adding more healthy fats and protein to her plate can give her more energy.
Including fat and protein in your breakfast can keep you full
Allison gets hungry easily but isn’t a huge breakfast person — she sometimes grabs a Lara bar, a banana with peanut butter, or a frappuccino, she said.
Adding more protein and fat into breakfast could keep the hunger pangs at bay, according to Poon.
She suggests avocado on gluten-free bread, a protein smoothie made from banana, nut butter, spinach, blueberries and protein powder, or oats and chia seeds soaked in almond milk overnight then topped with fruit and nut butter.
“Peanut butter is a great choice, but make sure that when choosing any nut butters, you lean towards options that are low in sugar and any unnecessary preservatives, salts, or palm oils,” Poon said.
Oats and bananas are also good foods to eat to keep your energy levels stable too. The potassium in bananas can reduce bloating, and avocado is high in vitamin B which helps regulate sleep.
More substantial lunches will help you resist afternoon snacks
Allison’s lunch is usually salad made from lettuce, vegetables, fat free cheese, and deli meat or quinoa, but she said she’s often hungry afterwards, so she reaches for snacks.
Poon recommends bulking up her salad.
Start with dark, leafy greens, but consider topping it with leftover roasted vegetables or sweet potato — include as many colors as possible, she said.
Consider whole food healthy fat sources like avocado rather than fat-free cheese, Poon said, which can help you better absorb the fat-soluble nutrients from the other vegetables.
While quinoa is a great choice, Poon recommends replacing deli meat with wild-caught fish or sustainably-raised animal protein. Oily fish like salmon is rich in Omega-3, which could help you sleep better.
Vary your cooking style to keep dinners interesting
For dinner, Allison usually has chicken, salmon, or pork with brown rice or sweet potato and vegetables — it doesn’t bother her sensitive stomach, but she sometimes gets bored, she said.
Poon said it’s “wonderful” that Allison’s dinners balance lean protein, healthy complex carbs, and vegetables. She recommends spicing up simple ingredients by varying cooking styles.
“When we roast vegetables, it gives us the option to use different blends of dry spice or fresh herbs in the baking process and change up the flavor profiles of our meals,” Poon said.
You could also try using an air fryer or mix up your sauces, marinades, and vinaigrettes.
“Prepping vegetables by baking, roasting, steaming, or sautéing and then pairing them with your favorite sauces is a quick way to keep your dinners balanced with healthy vegetable options,” Poon said.
Sleep more to manage your sweet tooth
Allison has a sweet tooth, but said she tries to keep it in check with light lemonade, apple sauce, or peanut butter. She said when she indulges on candy she feels “like crap after.”
Sugar cravings are often triggered by stress and/or a lack of sleep, leading to elevated cortisol, imbalanced hormones, or unhappy gut bacteria, Poon said.
When you want something sweet, try dark chocolate or whole fruit (although apple sauce isn’t a bad choice) with nut butter, she recommends. Cravings are often triggered by dehydration too, so drink your water, which could help reduce bloating too.