March 2018 is here! Since it began back in 1980 the beginning of March has marked the month long observance of National Nutrition Month®! This year the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrient has chosen to focus on the slogan “Go further with food.” By making informed daily choices when it comes to the foods we eat we can better plan our days and achieve the appropriate amount of energy for the tasks we have planned. Did you know that certain foods will help you feel fuller longer, and provide a steady energy release rather than a quick energy jump start? By including complex Carbohydrates (Carbs), protein, and healthy fats in our diet we can do just that!
As humans we get our energy from eating food. Our super smart bodies take the foods we eat and break them down into tiny pieces that our bodies can use for different purposes. Some pieces are used for repair, or to make “tools” so that our bodies can complete other tasks, still other parts are broken down into pieces that we use for energy.
Some foods are easier for our bodies to break down and absorb like sugars and highly refined foods (these are processed foods that are missing much of their original nutrients). These foods provide us with quick bits of energy but will lead to a fast energy crash as the foods are easily broken down and absorbed. An example of a simple, refined carbohydrate snack would be something like a rice crispy treat, crackers, or some jelly beans.
More complex, unrefined carbohydrates will take longer for our body’s machinery to break down and therefore provide a longer, consistent release of energy as the food is digested. Complex carbohydrate foods often include more fiber as well which among other things helps to keep us “regular.” Another food group that is consumed and broken down more slowly in our bodies is protein. It therefore, like complex carbohydrates, provides that longer, steady release of energy for out bodies. Both protein and complex carbohydrates help us to feel fuller after a meal or snack.
In the tables below you will find examples of complex carbohydrate, and protein rich foods. Many of them could be combined (or eaten alone) to form healthy snacks that will help get you through your day with more energy and without those pesky hunger pains!