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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Show Up for Your Life, Relentlessly, and Your Life Will Show Up For You

Clearly, articles such as this one - is not about herbs and I didn't write - but I find them soo inspiring and actually impact my life in such a positive way, that I feel compelled to share them with you . . . . and hopefully you will find some benefit in your life as well.
5 Attitudes That ACTUALLY Change Your Life
I lived the majority of my 20s in a bubble of possibilities. I’d decided that when I won the lottery, I would do all the things I hadn’t been able to do before: I’d work for myself, I’d spend more time on my body. I’d reconnect with family and friends. I’d travel the world and become an adventurer.
It wasn’t until I was 28 that I realized my “lottery” might never come. In fact, it was more likely not going to happen, despite my intricate vision boards, daily mantras of abundance, and intense self-reflection. I had two options: Concede that I may never “win” and live a listless existence of mediocrity; or, decide that I had to “win,” but that my own resourcefulness, inspiration and determination was going to get me there — not some lottery.
My life changed when I took myself out of my head and into my life. I’m the happiest, healthiest and most authentic I’ve ever been. Here’s how I got there:
1. Practice small actions, every day.
I was waiting for Oprah to gift me a trip to the Outback before I felt worthy of adventuring, for Random House to call and give me a book deal before I felt worthy of writing, for Sony to call and give me a recording contract before I felt worthy (or capable) of sharing my music. We’re all preprogrammed to see successful, happy people and what their result is; we fail to understand that we haven't been privy to the steps that got them there.
Success and happiness are not a book deal. They aren't the dream come true. Success is the late night worrying how you’ll pay your bills when you’ve started your own business. Learning how to communicate with a new partner you’re in love with. Running for one minute more than you could the week before at the gym. If you want big results, you need to stop discounting small action. Small action triggers big change.
2. Tell the truth.
My life drastically changed when I made it my responsibility to tell the truth to myself and the people around me. I told the truth about what I wanted to change about my body. I said out loud, for the first time, that I was unfulfilled in my relationship. I told the truth about being stuck and fearful in my dead-end corporate job, that my heart was aching to work with people, and make music and write.
Nothing magically happened — at first. But once my “truth” was out there, it was as if me, my family and friends, and the universe were all working together to get me what I needed, because I was clear about where I stood. Beyond that, issues that had become too heavy for me to hold were released.
The idea of telling the truth is terrifying. But doing it is freeing and absolutely necessary to get to whatever your next step is.
3. Show up.
Show up when you don’t want to, when you’re tired, when you’re not sure if you’ll be able to, when you’re burned out, when you’re uninspired, when you’re busy. Show up all the time. I made a promise to myself when I started making decisive changes in my life that I would take every opportunity that was presented to me; that if something found me it was meant for me, and if I didn’t say “yes,” and didn’t make progress, or get what I wanted, it was my fault for not answering when opportunity knocked.
Sometimes I’d “show up” and something profound would happen. Other times, seemingly nothing came of me being there. But almost always, whether it’s been in the moment or after the fact, the times I’ve said “yes” have led to an opportunity, a new friend, a new idea. Show up for your life, relentlessly, and life will show up for you.
4. Get to know (and love) your body.
I kept my body at arm’s length for most of my life. I was either feeding it recklessly, or beating it into the ground through treacherous, hate-filled workouts. When I started making big changes, I talked to my body like it was my life boat: the thing that would pull me through the storms. I fed it the right way. I strengthened it in my workouts, and rested it when it felt exhausted. I slept. I got to know my curves and lines, embracing and relishing in my sexuality.
My body, ultimately, became my center, and I found that because I had poured so much trust and confidence into what I was physically, my energy was no longer consumed by fitting into a pair of jeans, but rather free to focus on bigger, more important life decisions.
5. Be scared EVERY day.
What if all your dreams suddenly came true for you? How would you feel? Excited, absolutely. But you’d be scared. Scared to fail, to succeed, to try something new, to lose it all. “Conquer your fears” is my least favorite phrase. Because it’s not about “conquering” them. It’s about living with them. If you aren’t fearful, you’re staying still. If you’re ready to really grow and change something big in your life, fear is a requirement.
These days, I’m most scared on the days I’m not scared. I know that fear, for me, is an indicator that I’m expanding myself beyond my current, self-imposed limitations. If your dream-come-true would scare you to death (and it should), then you need to practice that emotion every day. Cold call a stranger to ask for their business. Ask out the person you’ve been flirting with for months. Try the new workout class you swore to yourself you couldn’t do. Put yourself out there. You already know what will happen if you don’t, and maybe nothing will happen if you do ... but what if it did?

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Simply FYI: 14 Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

I've spent my whole career in the book business, and I wouldn't want it any other way. So many people have a book inside them (at least one) and as a publicist, I help make authors' dreams come true.
I love books, and I'm passionate about how books can change our lives ... sometimes with just one sentence or with an idea, an insight, an adventure or a story. Here are 14 books that have changed my life in positive ways. It is very much a partial list, but I hope it inspires you.
"Something that is loved is never lost."
I read this novel after my father died, and this quote stayed with me and helped me heal. I hope this gem can comfort you too.
"Those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterward."
This book is a magical journey, and changed the way I see the world. Sometimes people can change us, sometimes a book can.
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." Albus Dumbledore.
I started reading Harry Potter books to my girls when they were in kindergarten. I'd read ahead the night before so I could edit the content to make it more appropriate for their age. It got me hooked, and started a truly bonding relationship with my girls. Harry Potter series always binds us together. We have private jokes related to the series, and a lifetime of memories.
"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."
I love this book and the idea of seeking meaning in your own life. It taught me the difference between seeking and finding, and how we should enjoy the pursuit of our dreams. Now my daughter is reading the book and is loving it as well.
"Funny how sometimes you worry a lot about something and it turns out to be nothing."
This author is one of my soul sisters, and seeing her fulfill her dreams and talents inspires me every day. She is my hero, because she made no excuses. While writing Wonder, she was a busy mom and wife, had a demanding full-time career, an elderly parent who needed her support and attention and yet she still found time to write this beautiful novel. She woke up in the middle of the night to write. Inspiring.
"The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart."
I read this book in high school and it taught me that what is valuable in life is invisible like love. And that a certain level of magical thinking is necessary for living a creative life.
"Pray to catch the bus; then run as fast as you can."
This book opened me up to the flow of creativity and hard work.
"It's a shame to waste [the uniqueness that is you], by doing what someone else has done."
This book started me on my spiritual path. I have lived my life by his philosophy of "follow your bliss" and have encouraged my daughters to live that way too.
"The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can't be organized or regulated. It isn't true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth."
I love the idea of acceptance of all. It's collective, all-encompassing, nonjudgmental ideas are beautiful. Besides it is designed in such a creative and interactive way.
"When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness."
This book — and this quote in particular — truly changed my thinking. When you think about it, complaining is just madness. Leave the situation or accept it, all else is madness.
"What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful."
Brene Brown encouraged me to open myself in a way I had never done before and it is liberating. It's a beautiful gift when a book can encourage you to be just who you are — flaws and all.
Business Books
"Only by carving out think time and reflection can we actually understand, in an entirely different context, the actions we take."
This book changed the way I approach work. I understood that being busy is not the same as being productive or profitable. In business and in life, the best decisions happen when we take the necessary time to step outside of our day-to-day routines and reflect on our decisions.
"A reputation for honesty and integrity is one of those "intangible assets" that pays off in ways we can never fully anticipate."
I have spent 19 years building my business and I hope a reputation for integrity. This book validated my investment. Honesty is like a first impression, you don't get a do over. The book is full of practical tips and inspiration to serve your customers/clients in the best way possible while also being more successful.
Career Advice
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go ..."
I have read this book many times. Once it gave me the courage to quit a great job to start my own company to do online book publicity before I fully understood what that was. Don't we all need a reminder that "You can steer yourself in any direction you choose."
Just one book can change your life. I hope you find your inspiration from my list. I'd love to know your favorite books.
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

4 Superfood Coffee Alternatives You Should Drink

Cappuccino close upThe caffeine in coffee is a mild addictive stimulant. This coffee component causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol. It also causes dehydration as it pushes the body to lose water by urination. Experts even suggest, that you must intake an extra 8 ounces of water for every cup of coffee you consume.
Every morning, we often see people matching their newly delivered or bought newspapers with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Coffee is also almost every college student’s best companion every time they pull an all-nighter to prepare for the dreaded examination weeks.
Every week, we received many emails from our subscribers telling us that they cannot stay awake without drinking coffee in the morning.
According to the International Coffee Organization, from 1999 to 2010 the amount of coffee being exported by the 70 major countries that export coffee increased from 89.4 million bags to 93.4 million bags. This goes to show that coffee indeed is one of the top agricultural export commodities in the world.
But too much of something is not always a good thing, right?
Too much coffee intake can cause headaches which in turn can disrupt the mind to focus, making it hard to do their work, to study, or to even simply think. Its acid can also worsen ulcers. A person who is stressed should not seek refuge with coffee as it only aggravates it.
The Four Super Alternatives You Should Try
There are other numerous alternatives available in the market that can compete with coffee’s taste minus the health risks that coffee has. The BIG four alternatives are matcha, maca, cacao, and carob.

1. Matcha  

Matcha or sometimes called maccha is a high quality green tea powder that originated in Japan. In fact, it is embedded in their culture for centuries as the main element of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Unlike other tea leaves, matcha is prepared painstakingly to achieve its fine quality. It is purposely farmed with reduced amount of sunlight to increase its chlorophyll content which also gives its distinct dark green color. This component is also beneficial to one’s health as it is a strong blood detoxifier.
Matcha contains a unique amino acid called L-Theanine which contributes to its noticeable sweet flavor. In a study published in the Biological Psychology by Kenta Kimura,, they conducted a double-blind experiment on how L-Theanine can influence the psychological and physiological states when under stress on 12 people. The participants went through  four separate trials of taking L-Theanine: one at the start, another at the midway, and the remaining two were the control trials–either they took a placebo or nothing.
They found out that the intake of L-Theanine reduced heart rate and salivary immunoglobulin responses to an acute stress task compared to the two control trials. In conclusion, the results suggested that L-Theanine could cause to reduce stress levels.
It is also rich in catechin polyphenols which is one of the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) kinds of antioxidant. This fights diseases and helps strengthen the immune system.
Centuries ago, matcha is only prepared as a tea drink for meditations. Now, it can be used as an ingredient in ice creams, cupcakes, or even sushi.


Lepidium meyenii or maca is a root medicinal herb cultivated mostly in Peru. Like matcha, maca has a historical value to the lives of the early Peruvians. It contains fatty acids  and amino acids that are good for the health.
The root crop maca can be prepared in several ways. Huatia is a delicacy in Peru which is made by roasting maca. Its roots can be used as a flavor for porridge, jams, and soups. Its powdered form can also be used as flour. But most importantly, it is used to make medicine.
Because of its multipurpose nature, it can help enhance and boost energy, stamina, and memory. It is also currently gaining its popularity as a natural aphrodisiac, although there were experiments conducted to confirm this, there are still no concrete evidence to support this claim.
Maca may not be as popular as coffee but this sure is much healthier than coffee.

3. Cacao  

Ever wondered where your favorite chocolates came from? Well, they originally came from the cacao plant which is used in numerous ways to extract its healthy potentials in different forms.
Its name is derived from the Greek for “food of the gods” as this was believed by the Mayans, a South American civilization, that this was discovered by the gods. At present, the plant is a high market for food and cosmetics industries.
But why cacao?  Cacao has a stimulant compound called theobromine which is like the coffee’s caffeine but the big difference is, theobromine is mild and non-addictive.
Hendrik Smit of the University of Bristol conducted a two double blind and placebo-controlled experiment that aims to determine the effects of the pharmacologically active compounds and  the presence of psycho-activity from a 50 g dark chocolate bar. In the first study, participants were  given  one test batteries before and  twice after their treatment. The treatment is composed of an 11.6g of cocoa powder and a combination of 19mg caffeine and 250 mg theobromine. In the second study, participants were given another three test batteries after the treatment to investigate on the  effects of the levels of milk and dark chocolates. The test batteries consisted a long duration simple reaction time task, a rapid visual information processing task, and  a mood questionnaire.
The results showed that cocoa powder with the presence of theobromine just like caffeine can produce psychopharmalogical activity or has an effect on mood, thinking, and behavior.
In a 2006 study by Mary and Marguerite Engler, cacao also has high level of flavonoids which is proven to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system.
It should be noted though that these benefits can be obtained by raw cacao which means that through cooking, its benefits will also reduce. So, relying on chocolate alone may not be the best way to harness its benefits.
Surprisingly because of its growing potential, cacao has become a global growing market. It can be consumed by its fruit, through its butter, and powder.

4. Carob  Dear Mark: Carob, Psyllium, Chia Seeds, and Vanilla

Carob is similar with cocoa for the reason that it can also provide that chocolaty flavor and appearance. It is commonly found in Spain and its neighboring countries in the Mediterranean. Interestingly, it is also called St. John’s bread since it was eaten by John the Baptist in a chapter in the Bible.
Carob powder is usually used in baking. Carob’s natural sweetness helps bakers and cooks to put lesser sugar in their pastries and dishes.
According to New York University Langone Medical Center, carob is a good source of fiber as it contains chemicals like tannins which helps in human digestion. It also reduces bad cholesterol and could potentially help weight loss and control blood sugar levels.

Try It Out!

These four superfoods were ingredients waiting to be discovered before but now that they are given the limelight by researchers, doctors, and chefs; many people will definitely try these superfoods without thinking about missing their compelling coffee experience.
Coffee has been a part of almost all humans’ daily routine but if there are much healthier and tastier choices out there, why not go for it?

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The Seven Best Foods to Have for Breakfast

When you wake in the morning your blood sugar levels are low and this leads to a lethargic feeling, mental confusion and irritability. We reach for quick fixes such as caffeine to feel more alert and sugary foods to sweeten our mood.  Many people skip breakfast altogether, because they are running late or think it will help them lose weight. A reduced appetite first thing in the morning also causes many people to incorrectly believe their body doesn’t need any food.  However, studies have shown that missing this key meal actually leads to increased eating during the day, poorer food choices later on and increased likelihood of weight gain and obesity.
Breakfast cereal manufacturers would like you to believe sugar-laden chocolate-coated cereals are the best way for you, or your kids, to start the day. Meanwhile fast-food chains are actively trying to increase their share in the breakfast market with cleverly promoted but unhealthy breakfast options.
Skipping breakfast or making poor food choices cause crashes in energy, reduced mental performance, low mood and slow down metabolism leading to weight gain.  Choosing the wrong foods for breakfast can drastically impact how you feel mentally, physically and even emotionally for the rest of the day.

What makes a good breakfast?

Breakfast has to fill many roles, including: meeting our nutritional needs; providing energy; tasting good and ideally quick to prepare!  Food high in refined carbohydrates, like processed cereals or pancakes, will give an immediate hit of energy but this quickly fades as blood sugar levels drop.  This is due to the insulin released to cope with the sugar influx (which will also make you hungrier later in the day and promote fat storage).  Caffeine has a similar effect with an energy rush, followed by a drop as it also affects blood sugar.  Low blood sugar levels impede your concentration and mood dramatically and lead to impulsive food choices, made worse by the limited healthy options found in offices and coffee shops.
A good breakfast should include a balance of foods which provide energy, nutrients, protein, fiber and fat to get you going for the day. Below are some ideal breakfast choices which can be combined to make tasty meals which keep you feeling full and focused for the day ahead.

1) Green Smoothies  

One of the quickest and easiest breakfasts to make, just chuck a few ingredients in a blender, and they are extremely nutritious.  Smoothies are mixtures of different fruits and vegetables blended with a liquid to produce a thick drink.  There are endless possible combinations, and a simple and tasty way to incorporate more raw fruit and vegetables into your diet. Making a smoothie is different to juicing;the smoothie retains the fibrous parts of the plants, which means you are kept fuller for longer.
The choice of ingredients depends on personal preference but a mixture of: green leaves(for essential nutrients); ripe fruit (for texture, taste, energy and nutrients); and a liquid (for consistency) is ideal.  Extra goodies such as seeds, super-foods and oats can also be added to add variation and increase nutritional content.  Another alternative is to make the texture thicker, by adding less liquid, and serve in a bowl, topped with yoghurt, berries, seeds and more.  Packed full of nutrition, easy to prepare and with endless variations possible, green smoothies are an excellent way to start the day.

2) Steel Cut Oats  

Breakfast cereals are a traditional way to begin the day in many countries and they can be a healthy way to consume carbohydrates, fiber, and nutrients.  However, there is a vast difference between traditional wholesome wholegrain cereals, and modern sugar crammed boxes of fortified-flakes which come with a free toy!
Oats are an old-world cereal crop and the oat itself is actually a seed.  After harvesting the outer husk is removed and the oat is cut into small pieces.  Cutting the oat means it will cook quicker without increasing sugar content – unlike rolled oats which have a higher glycemic index (GI) due to sugars released in the steam-rolling process.  Steel cut oats, also known as Irish oats, are the key ingredient in traditional porridge and oatcakes.
Oats contain a form of soluble fiber which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates (keeping blood sugar levels steady) and reduces cholesterol.  They also contain significant amounts of magnesium which has been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.Porridge is made by simply cooking up oats with water or milk (to create a thicker texture).  Adding nuts, fruit, yoghurt and a natural sweetener such as honey can elevate this popular dish which warms up winter mornings.

3) Sprouted Grain Bread  

This is bread made from grains which have been allowed to germinate, or sprout. Combinations of wheat and other grains (millet, oat, barley etc.) are kept in a warm wet environment until they have started to grow.  Once sprouted they are dried, ground into flour and made into bread.
There are numerous health benefits associated with sprouting, using a living grain to make your bread.  Sprouted bread contains: less gluten; more protein; a lot less fat; less carbohydrate than either brown or white bread.  The reduced carbohydrate content makes the bread lower GI than normal breads and the sprouting process starts to breakdown the grain releasing key nutrients and making it easier to digest.  A reduction in phytic acid, normally found in bread, also increases the amount of vitamins you are able to absorb.  Warmed or toasted this bread can add high quality nutrients, taste and texture to your breakfast.

 4) Greek yoghurt  

Yoghurt is full of protein and healthy bacteria making it an ideal breakfast choice.  Greek yoghurt is strained, or sieved, to remove liquid which gives it a thicker creamier texture and removes almost half the sugar. The high protein content helps you feel full for longer and the creamy taste of indulgence satisfies emotional needs for luxurious food. Since the straining process also removes lactose, people with mild intolerance often find Greek yoghurt unproblematic.  Mixed with fruit and topping with nuts provides a balanced and tasty way to start the day with only minimal preparation required.

 5) Quinoa porridge  Quinoa and vegetable salad

The Inca considered this quinoa seed sacred, and due to its alkaline nature it has been quickly increasing in popularity with health conscious consumers.  It is gluten free and high in protein including many essential amino acids – the high protein content means it will keep you feeling full for several hours and the low GI means you won’t get an energy crash after eating it. It contains riboflavin which support brain function and saponins which lower cholesterol and protect against various cancers.
Simply boil the quinoa in some water then add a few ingredients for taste.  Fresh fruit, sweet spices, nut or coconut milks all add extra goodness and flavor to this versatile food.

6) Fruits  ... fruits are primarily sugar did you know that avocados are fruit they

A classic breakfast food, fruit is easy to digest, provides quick energy and loads of key nutrients and anti-oxidants.  Known to protect us from cancers and other diseases fruit is naturally sweet, tasty and full of goodness.  Drinking fruit juice is NOT the same as eating fruit.  Without the plant fibers the GI of fruit juice is quite high, and can lead to an energy dip a short time after drinking it.
Combining fresh fruit with a protein and fat (for example a fruit salad with yoghurt and seeds) will keep you feeling satisfied and energized for longer.  Fruit is also a very convenient snack food and can be eaten on the run.  Keeping a selection of fruit with you, or at your workplace, can also prevent emergency eating if your energy levels drop.

 7) Nut and rice milks  

Alternatives to cow’s milk are becoming more popular due to increases in lactose intolerance, concerns about antibiotics and hormones fed to cows and the negative effects of pasteurization and homogenization.  Nut and rice milks are also highly nutritious and some, like hazelnut, are naturally sweet.
Nuts and seeds are naturally high in Omega-3 fats, which are good for your mood and brain function.  When made into milks, by first soaking then grinding and adding liquid, they keep these beneficial fats. Almond milk, for example, has less calories than cow’s milk, has no saturated fat and contains high amounts of vitamin B12 and minerals such as zinc.  When choosing nut milks, be aware of additives such as sweeteners and thickeners, it can be cheaper and healthier to make your own at home.

Planning your breakfast

Planning is crucial for a successful breakfast, without planning the low blood sugar we experience first thing in the morning leads to bad decisions which satisfying emotional cravings rather than fueling our body.  Personal investigation is needed to determine which foods make you, and your body,feel happy and energized. Choosing foods which provide energy, nutrients and you genuinely enjoy eating makes healthier choices much easier to stick to.  Why not take some time to figure out how best to start your day.

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The 10 Worst Foods to Eat Before Bedtime

Good quality sleep is vital for our immune system and general well-being. Insomnia or disturbed sleep can leave you feeling unable to get through the day.  For occasional sufferers this can be a mild irritation, and for those frequently not meeting their sleep quota it has a long-term negative impact on physical and mental health.
After a good night’s sleep you should wake-up feeling refreshed. However, many people are unaware that what they are eating before bedtime could be sabotaging their revitalizing sleep.
When we sleep several physiological changes occur in our body: our blood pressure and temperature both drop and our breathing and heart rate slow down. During this time of reduced activity the body performs many restorative and repair functions.
The brain re-stocks the various neurotransmitters it has used up during the day and the immune system has its nightly clean up.  New cells are made, old ones are removed and generally the body uses this time to look after itself.
Without this time to calm down and make necessary repairs the body will gradually become more susceptible to illness and we will experience reduced mental clarity.  If you have ever had to get up repeatedly in the night to look after a new baby you will understand the fogginess and confusion the next day brings.
There are two main types, or stages, of sleep: lighter sleep when we dream and heavier or deeper sleep.  It is important to reach these deeper stages of sleep, which occur later in the sleep cycle. If you only achieve the lighter stages of sleep, for example if you wake up repeatedly during the night, you won’t feel refreshed in the morning.  Nightmares can also cause us to wake up unnecessarily in states of panic and confusion often with a racing heart, preparing the body for real life battles with imaginary demons.
The process of digestion is generally considered an active process, requiring the body to use energy to break down the food and move it through the body. While some foods may make you feel sleepy, especially high carbohydrate foods, they actually prevent the body from slowing down and getting ready to enjoy its nightly rest.Generally you should avoid eating a few hours before bedtime, to allow your body to finish the more active parts of the digestive process.  However, there are a few foods you should specifically avoid if you want to get a restful and reviving sleep.

1. Spicy foods  your source for all things spicy has to include spicy food

Many spicy foods increase stomach acid secretion which means if you have over eaten, or have a weak stomach valve, this acid can travel up the esophagus when you lie down.  Also known as heartburn this causes a painful sensation in the chest which can make it hard to get to sleep. Some spicy Asian foods also naturally contain high amounts of glutamate, which also stimulates the brain causing excitement of neurons and feelings of alertness.
Studies in the international journal of psycho-physiology found that spicy condiments such as tabasco and mustard had anegative effect on sleep. After eating these hot foods subjects took longer to get to sleep, spent more time awake during the night and less time in the deeper sleep phases.

2. Ice-cream  ice-cream

Well known as a comfort food, ice cream contains large amounts of dairy, fat and also sugar. The high dose of sugar causes the secretion of large amounts of insulin which after it quickly mops up all that sugar will actually make you feel hungry again.  This returning hunger, in addition to making you likely to finish the tub of ice-cream, will make you feel famished when trying to get to sleep. Trying to get to sleep after hunger has set in can be difficult and getting up in the night to satisfy your hunger can be disastrous. Developing habits of getting up to eat confuses your biological rhythms and sets in place negative behaviors which can be hard to break.

3. Candy bars    The evidence is stacking up. Photo: iStockphoto

Just like ice-cream, candy bars are packed full of sugar which in addition to adversely affecting the regulation of appetite also correlates to an increased incidence of nightmares.  Studies in the Journal of Mind and Body found that consuming sugar laden foods produced nightmares in 70% of their subjects. This was thought to be related to stimulation of specific brain waves related to negative imagery during sleep. Bars also commonly contain chocolate which has its own sleep averting effects.

4. Red meat  Meat58

While red meat does contain some sleep inducing amino acids, such as tryptophan, it also is very heavy on the stomach and takes a long time to digest.  When the body is busy processing all the fats and protein it is hard for it to fully relax and let you drift off to sleep.
The quality of the meat can also have a significant effect.  When animals are stressed before they die, either long-term stress due to poor conditions or the short-term stressed induced by the slaughter process, they release cortisol.  When we consume their meat we also then take up this hormone and research indicates that when eaten it has a similar effect to when we make it ourselves. Cortisol is better known as the stress hormone and stress is not good for sleep.

5. Greasy food  can-greasy-food-cause-acne-300x336.jpg

Food containing lots of fat is renowned for causing stomach upsets which reduce physical comfort and distract you from getting to sleep. Eating late at night also means your body won’t burn off the calories you consume, so they will become stored somewhere on your body as fat. Avoid the sickly feeling before going to bed by staying away from high fat foods.

6. Pizza  national greasy foods day no matter how hard we try to eat healthy ...

Depending on who made it, pizza can be packed full of artificial chemicals designed to make you eat more. While home-made pizza could be a gentle light meal chances are if it is from a fast food restaurant it will contain some form of stimulating glutamate which will make you overindulge.  The acidity of the tomato sauce combined with greasy toppings makes this an ‘ideal’ stomach ache inducing sleep preventing snack!

7. Celery  

Having to get up in the night is obviously going to prevent you from getting the full spectrum of sleep needed.  Celery is a natural diuretic, which means it will make you urinate more often.  If you eat celery before going to bed you may need to get up during the night to go to the toilet, when your body would rather be sleeping. Also the high fiber content can make digestion slow and in some people causes bloating, burping and flatulence which add further sleep distractions.

8. Soda  

Carbonated drinks either contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, both of which dampen the immune system, which has valuable repair work to do at night.  Some sweeteners also excite parts of the brain that should be calming down and preparing to rest.  The acidity of the drink also has a negative effect on the stomach and the gas can cause bloating.  To top it off many drinks contain caffeine or other stimulants which further reduce your ability to wind down and go to sleep.  Since soda contains no nutrient value you may as well avoid it completely, thus also reducing the changes you will have to get up in the night to go to the toilet to flush out its useless chemicals.
Studies conducted by the US military found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that soldiers were having trouble sleeping after consuming energy drinks. While caffeine was one of the main culprits the other ingredients such as herbal stimulants also prevented them getting to sleep even when physically exhausted.

9. Chocolate  

While many people are aware tea and coffee contain caffeine, with its known stimulating effect, many people are unaware of less well known sources.  Studies undertaken by the Journal of Nutrition Research found that adolescents in particular were often consuming a lot of caffeine from chocolate without realizing.
In addition to the caffeine content chocolate also contains theobromine which has a positive effect on mood and also energy.  The combination of the two chemicals can keep your energy levels artificially elevated, making sleep less likely.  Studies in the Journal of Sleep Medicine even suggested there could be a correlation between sleep behavior disorders, such as violent dreams, and late night chocolate consumption.

10. Alcohol  

While alcohol can help you get to sleep quickly initially, it severely impacts sleep quality. When drinking alcohol you are more likely to wake up during the night and find it difficult to get back to sleep. This means you miss out of the deeper, higher quality, sleep.  The immune suppressing effects of alcohol also mean the overnight fix-up of the body physically, and recharging of mental batteries is not done. The physical relaxation of the muscles of the throat also makes snoring more likely which if severe can wake you up, or at least negatively impact the sleep of anybody you are sharing a bed with.
Increase your energy with sleeping not eating
The relationship between food and energy means that when we are over-tired, lacking mental or physical energy, many people reach for high calorie food. This tendency to seek out food is due to the stimulation of the hormone ghrelin and instead of sleeping we eat.  Not only does this cause weight gain, but also deprives the body of vital and nourishing sleep. When animals are deprived of sleep in laboratory tests they over-eat to try and compensate, and so do we, but in the long run it doesn’t help.
The increase in incidence of sleep disturbances was previously thought to be related to visual and auditory stimulation before bedtime, specifically TV, and also stress. However research is showing that what we eat can stop us from having a sound night’s sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping try changing your diet and avoid eating for at least a few hours before bedtime.  Along with adopting a calming bedtime routine cutting out the late night food could help you drift into the gentle sleepy slumber your body needs.
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