With her clever wit and wisdom, certified nutritional consultant (CNC), Leanne Ely, is bringing people back to the dinner tables each evening. Leanne has a simple philosophy, “Make it and they will come.” She is author of the Saving Dinner series; Leanne also dishes out recipes and advice with her syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva.

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Saving Dinner

by Leanne Ely, Certified Nutrition Counselor

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Dinner Diva: Craving Sleep? Eat These Foods!

By: Leanne Ely

If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, you're not alone. It's estimated that more than 60 million Americans struggle to sleep at night. So why not add some sleep-inducing foods to your diet?

What you eat for dinner really can affect how you sleep. Some foods will help your brain calm down, while others make it race. Some foods will keep you awake, while others will make you rest.

Foods to Help You Sleep, Diet.comThe key material in food we want to look for when it comes to sleepiness is tryptophan. That's a raw ingredient the brain uses to build up its relaxing neurotransmitters, melatonin and serotonin.

This tells us that we should eat a high carbohydrate meal in the evening to help our brains relax, but we're often told not to carb-load late at night when we're trying to watch our weight. Remember, though, that carbs does not necessarily equal bread, which tends to be what everyone thinks!

When it comes to preparing your evening meal, or bedtime snack, look for foods that are high in calcium and carbs, but that are relatively low in protein. Eating a protein-rich meal late in the day without an accompanying carb might keep you awake because of the amino acid tyrosine found in most high-protein foods. It likes to perk up our brains, so go easy on the protein before bed. Dairy contains tryptophan and calcium, both highly conducive to sleep (so your mother was right when she would offer you a warm glass of milk as a child!).

Some good dinner time foods to help promote sleep are:

  • Turkey

  • Cottage cheese

  • A handful of nuts

  • Honey

  • Oatmeal with a drizzle of honey and a splash of milk

  • Hummus

  • Avocado

  • Grapefruit

  • Mushrooms

  • Sleep-inducing bedtime snacks

    Most of us shouldn't be eating before bed, but if you're desperate for sleep, it's worth munching on one of these sleep-inducing snacks before trying to catch some zzzz's... Note the word: snack. Keep it light, or you'll be tossing and turning even more!

    Here are some tips on sleep-inducing bedtime snacks:

  • Warm up some milk and stir some honey into it

  • Have a bowl of wholegrain cereal with milk

  • Enjoy a banana with peanut butter

  • Make whole wheat toast with a piece of cheese

  • Eat a handful of hazelnuts

  • It takes about an hour for the tryptophan to reach your brain, so keep that in mind when you're timing this!

    Now that you know what foods will help sleep, let's look at what foods to avoid to increase your chances of sleeping well. Most of us know to avoid caffeine, but I bet some of these other foods may just surprise you.

    Food to avoid before bed:

  • Black tea

  • Coffee

  • Chocolate

  • Soda

  • Alcohol

  • Fatty or spicy foods

  • Potatoes

  • Onions

  • Salt

  • Tomatoes

  • Love,
    Leanne Ely
    Your Dinner Diva at your service at www.savingdinner.com

    Copyright © 2013 Leanne Ely All Rights Reserved. May be copied for individual personal use only.

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