Pair a carb with a protein for a lasting energy boost.
Now, you may be surprised that is writing what appears to be more of a culinary post than a medical one, but the truth is, what our patients eat is incredibly important to us. Absorbed into the bloodstream, food is how we get nutrition, and the right nutrition is a critical component of the recovery process. It gives our patients energy to focus and fully participate in treatment programs, aids in mood stabilization by reducing blood sugar spikes, and if their medications are causing weight loss or gain, can even help rebalance those scales.
News Flash: Snacking is Good for You
One way we encourage proper nutrition is to be sure our patients are provided healthy, tasty food every four hours. Yes, you read correctly. We serve more than three meals a day. Our patients are snacking and that is exactly what we want. Contrary to popular belief, snacking is not bad for you. In fact, snacking is good. It just has to be the right kind of snack. At Silver Hill, we focus on snack pairings: Snacks that combine both carbohydrates and proteins and weigh in at about 200 calories.
Carbs give a quick energy boost, but if that’s all you eat, you will crash after an hour because your blood sugar spikes then drops quickly. Instead, pair it with a protein. Protein keeps you full longer and you’ll maintain your energy level. Not only that, but your hunger will stay at bay and you can avoid the extra pound inducing trip to the pantry.
Pair Your Snacks: Most Ingredients Are Easy
The good news is that most of us already stock the perfect snack pairings in our kitchens — we just need to think how to put them together. Your grandmother was right: milk and cookies are the perfect combination provided you have the right kind of cookie. Try an oatmeal or whole wheat fig bar.
Hummus and pita is another good one. We make our own here, but store bought works just as well. There’s the classic cheese and crackers or fruit and nuts. Dried fruit counts, making it an easy snack to bring to the office. Apples slices with peanut butter or granola with yogurt —the real kind, not the frozen concoction — make for delicious and welcome breaks. Grocery manufacturers are catching on. You can buy cottage cheese with fruit sides built right in or tuna that comes complete with crackers.
A small bowl of cereal with milk is an excellent option. Make two cups of plain popcorn and sprinkle on half a cup of grated cheese — Parmesan works nicely, but any flavor will do. Have a vegetable drink along with that and you’ve worked in some fiber too.
Don’t Forget to Drink
Pair your snack with a healthy drink. We each need about 64 fluid ounces a day. For a refreshing, no calorie change of pace, try water infused with fruits or vegetables. Citrus water is a favorite up here: orange, lemon, lime. But don’t stop there. Try mango, mint, pineapple, blueberry or strawberry. Cucumber water is a winner as well. Be creative and have fun, just remember, no sugar added.
The bottom line is this: food is our fuel. When we’re hungry, we’re cranky and not very productive. Add a snack paring in between each of your three meals. You stay full and satisfied. The right food really can improve your mood.
-- BreAnn Farnsworth
Clinical Nutrition Manager at Silver Hill Hospital
Silver Hill Hospital’s blog is intended only to provide information; it is not intended to provide diagnosis or treatment. If this is an emergency, please call 911.