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Sleep, Stress, Sunlight and Food, Part 2

Not too long ago, Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island stated, "I would like to be able to eat cake and lose weight..." I would suggest Gina stick to politics, because I do think you can lose weight and eat cake. However, it is not as easy as calories in vs. calories out. Here is why:

Your weight is not solely affected by food. Sleep, stress, sunlight and food all play a role. Sleep can dictate your metabolism, and by extension so can sunlight and your diet.

Sunlight and Your Health. Presently, we have no evidence that artificial light is bad for our health (time will tell). However, we do know that taking our cell phones to bed is a bad idea. And of course, tanning beds are linked to skin cancer. However, natural light, aka sunlight, provides you with Vitamin D that electronic devices cannot. Not getting enough sunlight can contribute to a Vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to depression, fatigue, bone loss, cancer, arthritis, altered immune system and brain health (ie: dementia). When the sun sets, your body starts releasing melatonin. Your body takes darkness as a sign that it’s time to sleep and releases the hormone accordingly. With the right amount of melatonin in your body, you sleep through the night. Also, your body is able to produce other hormones: grehlin and leptin. These hormones control appetite and cravings, especially carbohydrate cravings.

Food To Put You To Sleep. You can make your diet work for your sleep and your metabolism. So what if you are unable to get the 7-8 hours a night suggested by sleep experts? Here is how you can get yourself on track:

Eat foods that are high in melatonin, because the more melatonin you have, the more restful your sleep will be. These foods include grapes, tart cherries, tomatoes and walnuts.

Also, eat only what your body requires (whatever your basal metabolic rate is) AND/OR 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Food is always the best source of Omega Fatty acids: Salmon, Tuna, nuts, flax seed, olive oil, etc. However, if you feel you do not get 3-4 servings of fish each week, you may want to consider fish oil supplements.

It’s likely you’ve been undervaluing sleep or haven’t fully understood why your doctors tell you it’s so important. Sleep sets the pace for how your body will function and process the food you you consume during the day. When you have not slept enough, you set yourself up for some larger problems. Luckily, the choices you make regarding food aren’t dictated by the amount of sleep you get. Even if you only got three hours last night, YOU can still choose to eat some grapes over a bag of chips, or you can choose to put a few extra tomatoes on your salad or sandwich. Accordingly, you can choose to put your phone in your bag when it’s bedtime instead of keeping it by your pillow.

As before, the choice remains up to you, and I’ll continue to advise you for as long as you’ll let me.



Photo of food collage courtesy of rakratchada torsap/ Photo of me taken at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Hope & Main, Rhode Island's first kitchen incubator, of which I'm a BIG supporter. Learn more at

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