You may know the Thanksgiving fogginess all too well. Many of us don’t eat much on Thanksgiving morning in anticipation of all the food to come. We may feel lightheaded or “hangry” waiting for dinner to be ready.
Then come the drinks, more drinks, and appetizers. We eat our Thanksgiving feast, have seconds, more wine, and dessert. Then we feel our energy drop and a loss of brain focus. We are ready for a nap.
There’s a connection between what we eat and brain health, even over one day. To promote a clear head this Thanksgiving, we must eat good mood food. Keep reading to learn the secrets to feeling grounded while avoiding Thanksgiving mood swings.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol, or too much alcohol, may contribute to brain fog, mood swings, and emotional changes. Alcohol consumption also impacts our food choices, influences blood sugar, and can interrupt sleep.
If you tolerate alcohol well, enjoy a drink on Thanksgiving but notice how it affects your mood and brain function. Try to have alcohol with your meal instead of on an empty stomach. Or, if you choose not to drink this Thanksgiving, enjoy many healthy and delicious mocktails.
Connection Between Brain Focus and Blood Sugar
The brain primarily runs on glucose and is affected by blood sugar spikes. Blood sugar highs typically result in low blood sugar, leaving us feeling shaky, irritable, anxious, and foggy, and a loss of brain focus.
The way to avoid low blood sugar levels is to prevent blood sugar spikes. The goal is to have more healthy variations in blood sugar throughout the day, like rolling hills instead of peaks and valleys. And to be clear – you don’t need to fear your blood sugar rising after a meal! It’s normal for your glucose to rise, we just don’t want it to spike outrageously.
Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes
Blood sugar spikes are most often caused by what we eat, typically meals or snacks that are too high in carbohydrates or carbs that are not balanced with fat, protein, and fiber. A typical Thanksgiving meal is rich in carbs: bread, potatoes, and sugary desserts.
Avoid blood sugar spikes by choosing whole-food carbohydrates and avoiding, or reducing, processed carbs like added sugar and flour. Choose sweet potatoes, green beans, salad, and brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving.
Sugar and Mood Swings
Sugar is a major added ingredient in most processed foods on the market. Why? It spikes your blood sugar, and when you crash you want more. It’s good for sales, but not for your mood.
On Thanksgiving, reduce sweeteners in dishes and choose natural sweeteners like allulose instead of processed sugar.
Good Mood Food
Since blood sugar and mood are connected, balancing blood sugar is key to a good mood on Thanksgiving. We talked about the type of carb to choose. Now, let’s talk about balancing carbohydrate foods on our plates. Ideally, pair carbohydrates with fat and protein to slow the release of the sugar from the carbs into the bloodstream and help you to feel full and satisfied from meals.
High Fiber Foods
Fiber helps slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. High fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. When plants are processed, the fiber is stripped away, which is why processed foods spike blood sugar more. Learn more about fiber here.
High Protein Foods
Boost brain nutrition by eating protein along with carbs. On Thanksgiving, your high protein food may be turkey, but it can also be a plant-based bean or soy dish.
High Nutrition Foods
In addition to fiber and protein, fat is also a blood sugar stabilizer. Scott’s Protein Balls are healthy snacks based on the idea of fiber, protein, and fat.
On Thanksgiving, add olive oil to your veggies, add nuts and seeds to side dishes, and use full fat coconut milk in baking to promote increasing healthy foods and blood sugar balance.
Enjoy clear focus and a better mood this year by being smart with alcohol, balancing blood sugar, and eating nutritious foods at your Thanksgiving meal.