How to Eat Your Way Through Life Slideshow
July 10, 2013
Before an Interview
Put down your résumé and take the time to eat a few stress-relieving foods before a big job interview, because food can give you the boost you need to impress your future employer.
Fresh beets, spinach, and whole grains are the best foods you can eat to calm your pre-interview jitters. Beets and spinach have a high folic acid content that acts as a natural stress-reliever while whole grains can increases your serotonin levels, which can relax the body and help you handle your stress better.
Try this Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets and Baby Spinach before heading over to your interview.
After a Job Offer
This one doesn’t require a scientific explanation. You just accomplished a significant achievement, and that’s enough of a reason to celebrate.
Try making a batch of chocolate chip cookies or one of your favorite guilty pleasures to reward yourself for a job well done.
You may have heard that chocolate can naturally increase sexual desire, but did you know why? It's because chocolate contains psychoactive feel-good chemicals that release dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain. Meanwhile, magnesium-rich bananas can increase your energy and your libido, and garlic is loaded with allicin, which helps increase blood flow.
You may not be able to find a dish that combines these three foods, but keep a few Frozen Chocolate Bananas in your freezer for when you need to get in the mood.
It’s important to replenish your nutrients after sex, or any intense physical activity. Bananas are a great food to stock up on because they have high levels of potassium and keep your muscles from cramping and help steady your heartbeat. Eggs, meanwhile, contain choline, which helps produce “happy” hormones like serotonin and dopamine to boost your mood even further, making these two a perfect post-sex snack.
For a quick after-sex pick-me-up, try making these easy Balsamic Fried Eggs for you and your partner.
Preparing for a Flight
When flying, people often complain about high stress levels and uncomfortable stomach pressure. Therefore, the best foods to eat before a flight are ones that will calm your flying-related nerves and prevent bloating. Oranges contain vitamin C, which can protect you from the inevitable germs that fly around in the air of a plane and in the airport, while the probiotics in yogurt can help regulate your digestive system and prevent bloating when the plane hits high altitude. Finally, Brazil nuts can help replenish your body’s store of zinc, which anxiety can deplete.
Check out these easy ways to enjoy Greek yogurt and try one out before boarding your next flight.
Recovering From a Flight
After spending many hours in a plane cabin, it's easy to be dehydrated due to the lack of humidity in the air. Cucumber, watermelon, and yogurt are all comprised of more than 80 percent water and can rehydrate you after a long flight. Cucumbers also contain vitamin C and caffeic acid to reduce swelling and sunburn, which is great if you’re flying back from a tropical vacation.
This Cucumber Yogurt with Dill Recipe can address of your post-plane ailments in one dish
Before a Workout
Working out can take a toll on your muscles and joints, so it’s important to fuel up your energy stores with a pre-exercise meal. An even balance of lean protein and carbohydrates like those found in a whole-wheat bagel with jam or a hearty bowl of oatmeal with nuts can stop muscle breakdown and reduce inflammation. Choose complex carbs that burn slower than simple starches like those in white bread in order to make your energy supply last longer
Try this Pumpkin and Walnut Oatmeal Recipe next time you’re about to hit the gym.
After a Workout
Your post-exercising snack should be geared toward helping your muscles repair the microscopic tears incurred by your workout. Eggs and peanut butter both contain the protein needed to rebuild muscle tears, while the potassium in bananas can prevent muscle cramping. Make an egg or a peanut butter banana sandwich on whole-grain bread because complex carbohydrates can help restore glycogen levels that get drained during a workout.
If you’re not feeling very hungry post-workout, this Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie will provide you with the nutrients you need without requiring a full, heavy meal.
To Prevent a Hangover
The best hangover cure is a proactive one. Your pre-drinking meal should include vitamin B and healthy fats that can be found in olive oil, salmon, and avocado to coat your stomach in preparation for a night of alcohol consumption.
These Salmon Avocado Tacos should do the trick and keep you full to prevent your drunk food cravings later on as well.
To Cope with a Hangover
Dehydration and a queasy stomach are the main causes of that awful feeling you get when you’re hungover. A light meal like eggs with toast contains protein and carbohydrates that can restore your energy levels with nutrients while not taxing your sensitive stomach or making you nauseous. Further, the potassium in bananas can combat alcohol’s diuretic effects.
Try this Simple Scrambled Egg with Spinach and Tomato Recipe with a slice of toast to ease your morning-after woes, or check out these Best Hangover Recipes.
When You Can't Fall Asleep
No matter the reason why you can't fall asleep, eating certain foods can aid the process by putting you into a drowsy lull. L-Tryptophan is an amino acid found in foods like turkey that triggers the release of serotonin, creating a relaxing effect in the brain that can trigger sleep. Eating turkey sandwich made with whole-grain bread that has lower sugar content than white bread will prevent you from getting an energy spike, and if you’re not a fan of turkey, cheese and crackers will do the trick.
Cook up this Basic Roasted Turkey Recipe and store it in the refrigerator to make late-night sandwiches throughout the week and save yourself time counting sheep.
When You Can't Stay Awake
If you have a long night ahead of you, put down the giant mug of coffee and consider a naturally energizing food alternative. If you’re planning on trying to stay awake for a long period of time, you’re going to need carbohydrates to maintain your energy levels and protein to stimulate brain functions. A plate of pasta with grilled chicken and vegetables, or an egg and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat toast can help keep you awake.
Note: Avoid caffeine and overly-sugary foods that may boost your energy and attention for a few hours, but will lead to an eventual crash. Also, avoid foods like turkey with tryptophan that will have your eyes drooping before you can get to work.
A serving of this Bruschetta Pasta Recipe can provide you with the energy and brainpower to have a productive, long night. It helps that it tastes great too.
When You've Been Diagnosed With the Flu
If you have the flu, chances are that you’re feeling tired, sore, and feverish due to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Apples and cranberries contain flavonoids, which are anti-inflammatory substances that help strengthen your immune system against bacteria and viruses. Alternatively, chicken and eggs contain easily digestible protein that won’t upset your stomach or take too much energy to prepare but will keep your body energized to fight illness. Finally, red, pulpy watermelon contains glutathione, an infection-fighting antioxidant.
Take this opportunity to try out 5 New Ways to Try Watermelon and keep in mind that a stuffy nose may prevent you from tasting the bold flavors in your meals, as 80 percent of flavor perception is governed by your sense of smell.
When You've Been Diagnosed With Pneumonia
Because pneumonia causes lung inflammation, fruits like blueberries that have high antioxidant power that can reduce inflammation and act as rehydrating agents are a staple recovery food for this illness. Unpasteurized honey can also coat your throat with natural antiviral and antibacterial compounds that can help alleviate the sore throat associated with pneumonia.
Preparing this Avocado with Honey and Mint Recipe will help soothe your throat, calm your stresses about being sick, and fill you up.
When You Have a Headache
That pulsing feeling you get when you have a headache often results from an inflammation of blood vessels near the brain. Ginger is a great food for headaches because it has natural anti-inflammatories, and also acts as an antihistamine to reduce sensitivity and pressure. Along with ginger, salmon is another great food for natural anti-inflammatories, and whole grains, which are rich in magnesium, are perfect for soothing PMS-related migraines.
Cook this Ginger Lime Salmon Recipe with a serving of brown rice on the side to attack your headache from all sides.
When You Have a Toothache
Toothaches can cause your teeth to become sensitive and sore, making eating diverse foods a challenge. The key to dealing with a toothache is to avoid chewing foods, especially ones with extreme temperatures, as much as possible. Eating a slightly over—cooked baked potato or soft yogurt is a great way to fill you up without straining your teeth too much.
These Twice Baked Potatoes will soothe your mouth and satisfy your taste buds.
Before a Date
If you find yourself getting anxious before a big date, consider dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds as your go-to foods. Dark chocolate has properties that reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, while increasing serotonin which helps battle anxiety. Meanwhile, pumpkin seeds have magnesium which helps break down glucose levels to boost energy levels
Keep a bag of Pumpkin, Cherry, Dark Chocolate Trail Mix on hand as you’re getting ready for the evening.
During a Date
Despite the fact that many sites will tell you what foods you should avoid on your first date, the best rule of thumb for ordering on a date is to order something that you can eat without a mess. Pasta, for example, is a great option because it will keep you full, can vary depending on taste, and won’t break your or your date's budget, as long as you don’t choose noodles that can easily spray sauce on your clothes.
Dishes similar to this Mediterranean Pasta Recipe can be found in most restaurants.
Pregnancy is an important time to eat carefully and appropriately, but many people disagree on what foods you should be eating. Generally, nutritionists agree that foods with folic acid like avocados, broccoli and lentils help to develop the baby’s brain and nervous system. Meanwhile, iron-sources like oatmeal and spinach produce more hemoglobin in your blood and the protein and omega-3 content in DHA eggs can help with fetal eye formation and brain functioning.
This Spinach and Lentils Recipe makes a great dinner side dish when you have prenatal care in mind.
After giving birth, most moms have weight loss on the brain. Losing the weight in a healthy way, however, by exercising and sticking to a balanced diet of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and a few indulgences now and then, is very important. When craving a midday snack, reach for a plate of cheese and crackers, apple slices with peanut butter, or sandwich on whole-grain bread to keep you satisfied without overindulging. Going on a fad diet immediately after giving birth can stress out new moms enough to actually cause them to gain weight.
This Herb Cheese with Crackers Recipe can count as both a healthy snack and a tasty indulgence for new moms.
After Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Removed
As with a toothache, your mouth will be sore and numb after you get your wisdom teeth out due to the use of local anesthetic and the surgery itself. The key to eating after having your wisdom teeth removed is to stick to soft foods that will not require a lot of chewing, and to avoid foods that will easily get stuck in the holes in your gums. Cold foods like ice cream will help numb your mouth and soothe soreness, while clear soups and broths, yogurt, and pudding will keep you nourished without straining your mouth.
This is the perfect time to try making your own Chocolate Ice Cream , which will soothe your gums while stimulating your taste buds.
After Getting Your Tonsils Removed
The foods suitable for post-tonsillectomy are similar to those appropriate for after wisdom teeth removal. Because getting your tonsils removed doesn’t affect your ability to chew, however, you can expand your diet to include mushy foods like overcooked pasta and mashed potatoes, which will keep you full longer and give you a wider range of nutrients during your recovery period. Getting your tonsils removed is your excuse to indulge in your favorite sweet, cold treats if you ever needed one.
This Classic Mashed Potato Recipe tastes good and is easy on your sore, recovering throat.
Before an Academic Test
Preparing for an important academic event calls for real brain food.Protein-rich foods like eggs, beans, seeds and nuts help your body create amino acids, which are the precursors to neurotransmitters that help you maintain mental motivation and sharp thinking. Make sure you eat before a test even if you don’t normally eat at that specific time—your brain needs energy to work to its full potential.
Try preparing some of these new ways to cook eggs for breakfast next time you have a big test or project to complete.
After a Social Event Involving Drinking
We often crave burgers, pizza and other high-fat foods after social events that include drinking, but mixing alcohol and fat often makes for an unpleasant morning the next day. Substituting these quintessential junk food items with healthy fats in peanut butter or a less-greasy grilled cheese sandwich can satisfy your cravings without leaving you feeling nauseous in the morning.
If you’re feeling inspired in the late hours of the night, putting together this Brie and Balsamic Strawberries Grilled Cheese is sure to meet your munchies needs.
At Your Office Desk
We’ve all faced the dilemma of having to spend our lunch hour at our desks, working hard to finish a project while still craving a decent meal.
If you have to stay at your desk to eat your lunch (which you should avoid as much as possible) a sandwich or compact salad can be a healthy choice that will fill you up without leaving a mess. Make sure that your salad includes an element of protein or starch, like grilled chicken or brown rice to avoid late-afternoon hunger pangs. Be aware of the possibility of bacterial contamination at your desk, as your desk can be 400 times dirtier than your toilet.
This Avocado Club Sandwich has a great mix of healthy fats from the avocado and lean protein from the turkey to keep up your energy in preparation for a long day at the desk.
At the Park
The key to perfect picnic food is to keep it practical and portable. If you bring food that tastes best served hot or cold, you may find yourself disappointed come picnic-time. Paninis are easy to transport and taste great at room temperature and the carbohydrates will give you a burst of energy needed to throw around a Frisbee. Similarly, apple slices make easy finger food for kids and adults alike.
When spending time in the outdoors, it’s important to replenish your body’s fuel, especially if you’re camping after a long day of hiking or physical activity. Make sure your meal includes a balance of protein and carbohydrates to restore your energy, rebuild muscle tissue, and prepare you for the next day’s activities. Barbecue foods like burgers and shish kebabs can be great sources of protein, cook quickly over a fire pit, and can easily be made vegetarian. Easily-stored pasta salads also make a good side dish for your campsite.
For some inspiration, check out the Ultimate Guide to Camping for Food Lovers.
Hiking is the best time to put your favorite trail mix recipe to good use. A good trail mix is one that mixes dried fruit, fresh nuts, and seed because their high fat content converts to energy quickly. Also, when packing your bag for a hike, it’s important to keep in mind that you need to carry your food on your back, so it’s better to pack lighter trail mixes and sandwiches that will survive your constant motion.
If you don’t already have a favorite trail mix blend, give one of these 8 Snack-Happy Trails Mix Recipes a chance.
When It's Really Cold
Cold weather usually coincides with less access to sunlight, which can lead to vitamin D deficiencies. In the winter months, stocking your refrigerator with foods like salmon, eggs, tuna and shitake mushrooms, which are packed with vitamin D can help you keep your bones strong and your spirits high. Additionally, most people crave carbohydrates as a way to combat the winter blues through comfort food. Reaching for whole grains over an extra slice of cake can give you the satisfaction you crave without posing health risks.
There are many ways to incorporate whole grains like barley, quinoa, brown rice, and wheat berries into side dishes that may quickly become your favorites.
When It's Really Hot
When the weather is hot and humid, eating a huge meal is often the last thing on everyone’s mind. Even if it may seem counterproductive to try your new spicy recipes in the hot summer weather, it’s actually a great way to beat the heat. Spicy foods trigger your sweat glands and will make them work overtime to increase your blood circulation, and producing sweat helps you cool down faster. Cultures in the world’s hottest locations — like South America, India and Africa — have long ago incorporated foods flavored with hot chile peppers and spices as dietary staples.
Next time you cook dinner, be daring enough to cook something like this Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Tamarind Orange Chutney.
When You're Cranky
Are you feeling irritable or cranky? Unless your parent, coworker, or child is getting on your nerves, chances are your mood is a cry for help. Crankiness is a sign that your body is running low on energy and needs fuel. Therefore, eating foods that combine quick-burning carbohydrates with protein will slow down the digestion process. Snacks like an apple with peanut butter will ensure your energy levels remain high throughout the day so that you can curb that crankiness.
This PB & J ‘Sushi’ Recipe shows a great way to incorporate peanut butter, carbohydrates and fresh fruit preserves for the ultimate pick-me-up snack.
When You're Worried
In today’s fast-paced world where there are many reasons to feel worried or anxious at any given moment, certain foods can ease your woes better than others. Whether you’re worried about your job, finances, marriage or kids, eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help tame your anxiety. Salmon and walnuts are both great sources of omega-3s, and regularly consuming these fatty acids has been linked to preventing and treating clinical depression.
Cooking For Someone For the First Time
Cooking for someone for the first time is not the time to try out that new, complicated recipe you recently found — it presents too many opportunities for something to go wrong. The key is to stick to simple foods that you’ve made before and that you enjoy eating. Has someone ever told that your lemon chicken recipe is to die for? Make that. Or perhaps you’ve recently perfected your mom’s classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe. What better time to show it off?
If you don’t have a tried and true recipe of your own, this simple Lemon Basil Chicken Recipe is a great way to win over a new guest
Cooking For Someone Special
This is the opportunity to try out a more complicated recipe to show someone (especially someone who loves food) that you care enough to put in the time and dedication to prepare a more extravagant dish. Cooking a savory soufflé for dinner or a sweet one for dessert can help you show off your culinary expertise and wow your guest.
This Spinach and Gruyere Soufflé is sure to leave your guest impressed and wanting seconds.