In her 25 years as a dietitian working with families, Linda Bartholomay sees every day how the four parts of the FIT Platform -- FOOD, MOVE, RECHARGE, and MOOD -- all work together for overall good health. "If one of the four areas addressed in the FIT Platform is out of control or unhealthy, it's really hard to make changes in the other areas,” says Bartholmay, who is the manager of outpatient nutrition therapy with Sanford Health, WebMD's FIT educational partner.
FOOD is a big part of a FIT lifestyle. What we eat provides the essential building blocks for our bodies. Plus, the FOOD choices we make every day affect the other areas of the FIT Platform.
FOOD Gives You Energy to MOVE
It's basic knowledge that calories from food fuel our bodies so we can go about our lives. "Food is fuel, but there are all kinds of nutrients in foods that do different things for the body," says Bartholomay. So the key for using FOOD to achieve a fit life is choosing foods that give you the energy you need, when you need it.
For instance, you can choose a piece of candy for an afternoon pick-me-up. And candy will give you a quick energy boost, but it won't last long, and it may leave you with an energy crash. A more effective pick-me-up would be a high-fiber snack with some protein, such as a few whole wheat crackers and low-fat cheese. The fiber and fat are digested more slowly, giving you a steadier source of energy.
Another FOOD choice that is a MOVE-crusher is indulging in a big, heavy meal. That's more likely to make you feel sluggish and tired rather than invigorated. A lighter meal might help you have more energy for a relaxing walk.
FOOD Can Influence Your MOOD and Emotional Wellness
Unfortunately, the FOOD-MOOD connection may not be what we'd hope for. Comfort food is called that for a reason: We often crave big meals or sweets when we need an emotional boost. The problem is that comfort eating doesn't work -- after indulging, we are often not comforted. You are likely familiar with this vicious cycle. "You feel yucky, and think, 'I just want sweets.' So you eat the sweets. Then you feel yucky for eating the sweets. In fact, eating the sweets just made the yucky mood worse," says Bartholomay.
You'll learn tactics to avoid this in the FOOD articles. For instance, to fortify your resistance from comfort eating, emphasize whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. These high-fiber foods help keep you from feeling hungry all the time so you won't be as cranky.
FOOD Choices You Make Can Affect How Well You RECHARGE
Can what you put in your mouth affect the quality of your sleep? Absolutely. Most people know to avoid caffeine before bedtime, as well as spicy foods that can make digestion a challenge. But a recent study found that fat was a bigger sleep-stealer than caffeine. In this study, women who ate the most fat slept less at night. Plus, they also took more naps, which indicates daytime sleepiness.
To help avoid overdoing it on the fats, eat a variety of healthy foods and keep portions moderate. Your efforts may not only help your digestion, weight, and self-concept, but also help you get more shut-eye.