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Eating habits

Eating habits

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Which of the following alternatives are alert-and-clever-foods?

Eating habits

Hi, Leon. You look tired. A bit too much to do? Yeah. Ew.

We have an important match soon, so I'm practicing a lot. And I have to study for a test. But I'm just so tired all the time. I don't get half of what's in the books! Sounds heavy.

But hey! There are actually a few things you could do, to give you more energy, and to think better. Wanna give it a try? Yeah. Okay, great!

Let's start with the food. Chips and sweets taste good, but they're not exactly alert and clever-food. When you're hungry or have cravings, it's easy to reach out for something that's quick to fix. But if you want to give your body and brain some good energy, there are other things to reach for. Like a bowl of yoghurt with bran flakes and raisins.

Or a whole grain sandwich, with cheese, or hummus, and a carrot. Or fruit, and some almonds. Food works best for you if it contains a combination of several things: Proteins... . Vitamins, minerals, and fibres... . Fat... .

And... carbohydrates, that give a lot of energy. There's plenty of those in rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, and noodles. But carbohydrates are tricky. There's a difference between fast and slow carbohydrates.

When we eat, the food is digested and enters the blood in the form of sugar. The level of blood sugar increases. Fast carbohydrates are called fast because they are digested quickly, and increase the level of blood sugar in a short time. The energy that you get from fast carbohydrates doesn't last very long. Your body quickly gets hungry and tired again.

Slow carbohydrates take a longer time to digest, and to pass on to the blood in the form of sugar. That makes your blood sugar level more stable, and that is good for you. You feel satisfied for a longer time, and your brain learns and remembers better. Slow carbohydrates are found in vegetables, beans, fruits, and in whole grain bread and cereals. Fast carbohydrates are found in white bread, white rice and in sweets.

And of course, in sugar. Take a look at the list of contents on a loaf of bread, some crackers, a fruit drink, some cereal, or flavoured yoghurt. You find any sugar? In ready-to-eat meals there's often a lot of sugar added. Adding sugar is a low-cost way of getting the food to taste better and last longer.

But added sugar gives a lot of fast carbohydrates, without offering any other nutrients. Your body is best off if you limit the eating of snacks, sweets and other stuff with a lot of added sugar, to once or twice a week. What? But I want those things all the time? Why do I have such cravings for them, if they aren't good for me?

Yes, Leon. Why do we yearn so much for sugar? Is there something wrong with our bodies? No. They're just old.

Our bodies behave almost exactly as they have for hundreds of thousands of years. Through evolution, our bodies developed, to suit a life where there wasn't always enough food. If you got hold of something full of energy, you did well by eating all of it. Because who knows? The next day there might not be anything to eat at all.

Craving for sugar and fat helped us survive! Nowadays many of us have food that's rich in energy within arm's reach. Do you get it, Leon? Sure! Who knows if there'll be anything to eat tomorrow.

Better finish it all today! Leon? Try to go for one week without eating anything with added sugar, and you'll see that you'll have less of that sugar craving. Yeah yeah, I get it. Next week!