Eating Healthy in the Real World: How to Deal with Sleep Deprivation


On Friday I was very sleep deprived.

I am up at 5am every Friday morning for a 6am training session with the Brainy Betties. But, this particular week I was quite lazy when it came to getting to bed at a reasonable time.

So, I obviously paid for it the next day.

My cravings for starch are always higher on Fridays (just because I need A LOT of sleep and it’s hard for my body to get enough when I get up that early.)

***Sleep deprivation causes cravings for those of you who don’t know. Our bodies are looking for a quick source of energy to make up for what we are lacking.

So, typically I will just have a little bit more starch than normal and it won’t be a big deal. I just accept the fact that this is the way it’s going to be, because it’s science.

Unless you want to try and fight it (which sometimes you can), but if it’s extreme it will be just downright miserable.

You have the option of just meeting yourself in the middle and making the best of the situation.

***Because many times this fighting it and making it miserable makes us lose control in the future-it can cause future binges. So, it just depends on the situation and whether it’s worth fighting/realistically possible to fight or not.

So, this meeting myself in the middle is what I had to do this past Friday. 

But, to a more extreme degree.

Since I was sooo sleep deprived, I was not only craving simple starches, but with creamy fat on top too (the body wanting even more calories.)

Soooo, when I am in this situation, I want to minimize the damage the best I can. And what I mean by this is two things:

1. I know that the high fat, high starch, high salt combo can highjack the brain for more intense cravings later in the day

And sometimes this spiral can continue on for days until we break it. What you are eating isn’t just about when you are eating it, but also how it affects you later.

2. If you add more protein and fiber to your meal it slows the breakdown

Aka the insulin spike, which means more balanced blood sugar and less chance of future cravings.

So, what did I do?

On a normal day, my lunch would be a protein source, non-starchy veggies (the fiber), a healthy fat, and then however much complex starch I feel I need at that moment (if any.)

But, today mac and cheese popped into my head (because I wanted the fat and simple starch.) I seriously never buy that, but when your brain is that depleted, you will do things you don’t normally do.

But, lucky for me, I have the tools to know how to minimize the damage and make the best of the situation.

***And this is what I teach the Brainy Betties to do in our Mindful Eating education and our Avoiding Overeating Education.

So, first of all, I wanted to buy a version of mac and cheese that was more natural to minimize the chemicals (this is just to minimize the crappy feeling I would have if I ate a regular boxed mac and cheese.) So, I went to the store and bought the Aunie’s natural mac and cheese.

And on my way home I was thinking, “What protein and vegetable source do I want to add to this meal to slow the breakdown of this mac and cheese AND to also to fill me up so I don’t eat as much of it further increasing my chances of having it cause cravings later?”

So, I picked chicken breast, and a cucumber and onion salad (which is my non-starchy vegetable go-to since I am lazy with veggie preparation.)

This meal combination satisfied my current cravings, satisfied my hunger, and minimized the damage of future cravings (and this was especially important to do that day since I would be fighting cravings all day long due to the lack of sleep-I wouldn’t want to make it worse.)

Would I Have Eaten This Mac and Cheese if My Goal was to Lose Body Fat?

Since I am happy with my level of body fat and I am in maintenance mode, I might have tried a little harder to fight the craving if I was trying to lose body fat. And if it wasn’t fightable, I would have been even more mindful of how much of it I ate.

I also would have made sure I went for a walk to put that starch to good use.

But!! You know what I actually would have done if I knew my goal was to lose body fat?

I would have went to bed when I knew I should have. Versus staying up and reading stuff on the internet.

Because I would have known that if I didn’t get enough sleep that this would happen and make it waaay harder for me to eat the way I want to.

This is why it’s so important to not only have a good relationship with food, but also understand how different foods and food combinations work in your body (the physiology of food.) And how different outside factors in our life (like sleep deprivation, stress etc) affect those things as well.

***We go through all of this stuff in our Mindful Eating education and Avoiding Overeating Education. And if fat loss is your goal, we go into this in more depth in our Eating for Fat loss education and Advanced Eating for Fat Loss education.)

This is how you can get to your goals in real life and actually stay there. Because you aren’t following a bunch of rules. You understand how all this stuff works and you learn how to adjust it on the fly when life throws you curveballs…

Because it’s going to. That’s just life.

This is why diets and food rules don’t work in real life. ***One of the reasons I created Brainy Betties-you can read about that here.

Be Fit AND Happy!


Click Here is You Want to Learn How You Can Be Fit AND Happy in Real Life!

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