Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on June 21, 2021
Need to Be Alert?

Need to Be Alert?


Does your energy level plummet in the midafternoon? A snack can help revive you, but some choices are better than others. Chocolate has caffeine, and the darker it is, the more of a punch it packs. Fruit can also give you a quick boost, because it has sugar (though not as much as candy, which can set you up to crash and burn). Types rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, help your body turn fat into energy.

Ready to Work Out?

Ready to Work Out?


A couple of hours before you exercise is the perfect time to fuel up with healthy carbs. Good choices include whole-grain cereals, wheat toast, pasta, and brown rice. Fruits and vegetables can help you power through, too. It’s best to avoid a big boost of protein, though -- that takes longer to digest. If you’re hungry 5-10 minutes before your workout, try a banana or an apple.

Hungry After Exercise?

Hungry After Exercise?


Within 1-2 hours of finishing a workout, aim to eat a snack or meal that has both protein and carbohydrates. This will help your muscles recover the fuel you’ve burned. Try a PB&J or turkey sandwich with veggies, yogurt and fruit, pretzels and low-fat chocolate milk, or a healthy smoothie. And of course, drink water to replace the fluids you lost during your sweat session.

Need to Hydrate?

Need to Hydrate?


Water is the obvious choice, and that’s a solid strategy. But some foods can boost your hydration, too. Fruits and vegetables that fight thirst include watermelon, iceberg lettuce, celery, cucumber, strawberries, zucchini, and cauliflower.

Want to Stay Calm?

Want to Stay Calm?


Therapy and medications are the best ways to treat anxiety, but some foods could affect how you feel, too. The mineral zinc has been linked to lower anxiety. Cashews, egg yolks, and oysters are good sources. A serving of salmon can also be a wise choice. The fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acid, which, according to one study, may ease stress.  Probiotics, which come in foods such as pickles and sauerkraut, may lessen social anxiety.

Busy Day Ahead?

Busy Day Ahead?


Oatmeal may be the perfect breakfast when you’re facing a hectic day. It has beta-glucan, a type of fiber that makes you feel fuller longer. Research also has shown that complex carbohydrates, including oats, boost serotonin levels in your brain. That can help keep you calm.

Under the Weather?

Under the Weather?


Chicken soup really can help when you have a cold. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and can ease congestion. What if your stomach’s the problem? You may have heard of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) that doctors recommend after vomiting or diarrhea. But did you know melons such as cantaloupe and honeydew can help with indigestion?

Feel Bloated?

Feel Bloated?


This common but uncomfortable feeling is linked to gas. Lactose intolerance, when you can’t easily digest the sugar in milk, is one cause, so try a switch to lactose-free dairy products to see if that helps. One small study found that eating a banana every day reduced discomfort for some women. Kiwi might also help. Researchers found that it eased symptoms and improved digestion in a few people with irritable bowel syndrome.

Before a Night Out

Before a Night Out


There’s solid science behind the age-old advice against drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. Food in your belly will help prevent irritation of your digestive system. It will also make your body absorb the alcohol more slowly. High-protein foods such as cheese and tofu are good choices.

Hope to Conceive?

Hope to Conceive?


You may already know that you should get more folate if you plan to get pregnant. It’s an essential nutrient for a growing baby. It comes in leafy vegetables, peas, oranges, lemons, bananas, melons, and strawberries (or in a prenatal vitamin). Other foods in your diet may affect fertility, too. Some research suggests full-fat dairy, whole grains, and more protein from plant sources instead of animals can make a difference.

For Clearer Skin

For Clearer Skin


You may have heard that greasy food or chocolate will make your skin break out. It’s not quite that simple, but nutrition can affect your complexion. Some studies suggest that a diet rich in low-glycemic foods can fight acne. Good choices include fresh vegetables, beans, and steel-cut oats.

Show Sources


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Journal of the American College of Nutrition: “Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response.”

National Sleep Foundation: “Four Afternoon Snacks to Keep You Awake.”

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Dark Chocolate.”

American Heart Association: “Food as Fuel Before, During and After Workouts,” “Why Do I Eat When I’m Not Hungry?”

Mayo Clinic: “Eating and Exercise,” “Coping with Anxiety: Can Diet Make a Difference?” “Belching, intestinal gas and bloating,” “Folate.”

CDC: “Drinking Water and Intake.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Dehydrated? These 7 Foods Will Satisfy Your Thirst and Hunger.”

Harvard Health: “Nutritional Strategies to Ease Anxiety.”

Nutrition Review: “Dietary fiber and satiety: the effects of oats on satiety.”

UCLA Health: “An Inside Scoop on the Science Behind Chicken Soup and the Common Cold.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “BRAT Diet.”

Anaerobe:Effect of banana consumption on faecal microbiota: A randomized, controlled trial.”

Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Kiwifruit improves bowel function in patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.”

Stanford University Office of Alcohol Policy and Education.

Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility.”

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Foods That Can Affect Fertility.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “Can the Right Diet Get Rid of Acne?”