Poor Nutrition: The Real Reason You’re Tired

Tomato & Feta Crispbreads

You’re hungry—or stuffed. That’s right: Eating too much or too little food during the day can make you feel sluggish and crave climbing under the covers.

When you eat too much food, the digestion of those calories takes a lot of energy which can make you feel sleepy. Add a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage to the mix and you’re shifting into snooze-mode. Your body will begin to relax and be ready for a snooze.

Skipping meals or eating too little makes your body crave forty winks for a different reason. Food and calories equal energy. Without enough energy, a nap becomes a necessity.

The best way to eat during the day is to have balanced meals where you don’t walk away from the table stuffed. Have a combination of protein, carbohydrates and some heart healthy fats and make sure to include lots of fruits and vegetables into the day. Don’t skip breakfast and let yourself have some snacks.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Peggy, Week 14: How I Became An Early Riser


My parents and siblings all wake up early, a habit I attribute to my Great-grandmother Polly Webb. She believed that early to bed and early to rise truly made you healthy, wealthy and wise.

Grandma Webb had both knees replaced in the early 1970’s. One knee was a cadaver knee, which meant it could still bend. The other knee was fused, and therefore, fixed in a straightened position. Grandma Webb was born in 1901. She grew up, on a farm, in the coalmining town of Scranton, Pa. She was considered an old maid, because she waited until she was 16 years old to marry.

If you were not downstairs by 5:30 a.m., 7 days a week—including Sundays—she would stand at the bottom of the stairs, and yell: “Peh-ggy! The sun’s a risin’. The day’s a waistin’. Time to get up!” The last of each phrase would be elevated an octave above her baseline.

If you didn’t arrive within a minute or two, she’d start to climb the stairs. You would hear a step and a clunk, as she brought the unbending knee up the stairs. She would call out again: “Peh-ggy! The sun’s a risin’. The days a waistin’. Time to get up!”

Usually, I complied within the first two calls, but every once and awhile, Grandma Webb would make it to the top of the stairs. The punishment for making her climb the stairs, with her bad knees, was a bucket of ice water thrown on you in bed. (Okay, maybe it was really a small glass of cold water from the bathroom according to my mother, but I remember it felt as if it was a bucket of ice water!)

What’s the harshest way anyone ever got you out of bed? Post a comment and tell me.

Tiffany, Week 13: Can We Stick to This Sleep Schedule?


If you’re like Andy and me, it’s early to rise Monday through Friday and on Saturday and Sunday you get to sleep in. Sleeping in for us is 7 a.m. because Jack is early to bed everyday and early to rise, and in the morning he wants us to get up with him.

Then the sleeping challenge began we learned we’d be scored on a points system. You receive one point for getting 7 hours of sleep at night. Two points if you get 8 hours or more. My first reaction was frustration. I was always up until 11 p.m. or later. It’s just what I had become. I do a lot of things around the house, check emails, have downtime, catch up on the DVR when the kids are sleeping.

Then I read that we would receive one point for going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Notice I didn’t say Monday through Friday. EVERY NIGHT! WHAT!!! You mean to tell me I have to not only get at least 7 hours of sleep, I have to go to bed at the same time on Friday and Saturday night too? Oh I was not a happy girl. I went a few rounds via email with Dr. Oexman, the sleep doctor who helped design the challenge after having a phone consultation with us. “Do people really go to bed and wake up at the same time of day even on weekends?” I asked. Of course the answer is yes. And of course I wasn’t happy because it wasn’t what I wanted. But we’re all giving this a shot. We want to win the challenge and we want to be healthier. Wish us luck!

How many hours of sleep do you usually get at night? And do you think you could give up sleeping late on the weekend? Leave a comment and let me know!

Sleep: The Easiest Way To Lose Weight

girl in bed

If you want to slim down, go to sleep. Really. That’s according to several studies that show how getting forty winks affects our hormones. When you’re sleep deprived, levels of ghrelin, a hormone that boosts your appetite, go up. And levels of leptin, a hormone that tells your body it’s full, go down. These two actions drive you to overeat. And you know what happens when you overeat.

Lack of sleep also leaves you tired throughout the day. To boost your energy level you may turn to calorie-dense, high-sugar foods and caffeine (e.g. donuts and coffee), which give you a shot of energy—followed by another energy slump. These energy highs and lows keep you snacking throughout the day to stay awake—a habit that can pack on the pounds over time. And the more hours you’re awake, the more likely you are to snack.

So how much sleep do you need? Although you always hear that you should get 8 hours of sleep a night, this is just an average. Sleep experts recommend a range of 7-9 hours a night. The quality of sleep also matters. Research has shown that people who have sleep apnea have higher levels of leptin and weigh more. The disrupted breathing prevents the deep sleep needed to keep leptin levels from rising.

So if you’re hungry and tired all day and can’t seem to drop those extra pounds, try getting more zzz’s and/or seeing your doctor to identify possible sleep problems. And encourage your kids to sleep more too. Healthy sleep habits develop in childhood.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Hungry At Bedtime? Three Smart Solutions

More Than Just Cereal

Get ready for a shocker. You may have heard that anything you eat after 8 p.m. immediately turns into extra pounds. But it’s not true. When you eat isn’t the key. How much you eat is.

Too many calories, whether they’re consumed in the morning, afternoon or night will equal weight gain. However, it is best to spread your calories throughout the day. That’s because food is meant to be used for energy—energy you need more during the day while shuttling your kids to practice as opposed to the night when you’re sleeping. Still nervous about eating so close to lights out? Follow these tips to calm your head and curb your hunger.

Reassess Your Day
Waiting too long to eat during the day can cause binging at night. And when you’re looking for a fast hunger fix, it usually comes in the form of chips and dips, cheese and crackers or sweets—all of which have calories that add up faster than you think! Make sure to space out your meals throughout the day so you can avoid a snack attack at night.

Avoid Sleep Saboteurs
Sometimes consuming a heavy meal at night that’s full of fat or happens to be spicy can cause you to toss and turn. Caffeinated beverages can also disrupt your sleep, so skip those too.

Satisfy Your Hunger Simply
Don’t go to bed with a growling stomach—it could keep you awake. Instead, opt for a small snack such as a banana with peanut butter, a fruit salad with yogurt or a little bowl of cereal with skim milk. That may be all you need to have some sweet dreams and not add any inches to your waistline.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.