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Happy Meals

Bad-Mood Foods

Avoid these nutritional downers if you want to stay in good spirits:

  • Doughnuts, cookies, and other high-sugar treats. They cause a quick rush, then a crash. These sweets lack the fiber and other nutrients to slow digestion. Choose foods that take longer to break down, or those considered low on the glycemic load scale (a measure of the effect a food has on blood sugar based on traditional serving sizes — go to glycemicindex.com for more info).
  • Bacon. Foods high in saturated fats (we're also talking cream sauces, fries, and other types of oily goodness) are digested very slowly, diverting blood from your brain to your stomach, which can put you in a fog. They can also raise your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol — the bad kind. Whenever possible, stick to heart-healthy unsaturated fats such as nuts, and olive, canola, and nut oils.
  • Big portions. Lunches of 1,000-plus calories bring on that afternoon malaise because their long digestion time means less blood for your brain and muscles. For sustained energy, graze five to six times a day (three main meals of no more than 400 to 600 calories each, plus two 200- to 300-calorie snacks).
  • Excess caffeine and alcohol. A drink or two of each may have health benefits, but don't go over your limit: Too much caffeine can make you nauseous. Too much booze can put you at greater risk for cancers, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure — and, more immediately, mess with your sleep cycle, leaving you tired and blue.

 

Originally published on May 28, 2008

 

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