Be Nice To Your Brain: Avoid the “Carb Coma.” We’ve all been there. Known as postprandial somnolence in the research, this is the state of extreme drowsiness following a carbohydrate-dense meal. A synonym, “food coma,” was officially added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2014. Potatoes, rice, bread and desserts are among the culprits. Symptoms of a carb coma include but are not limited to:
- Sleepiness/extreme fatigue
- Extreme fullness (usually with regret!
- )Mental fogginess/crankiness
These carb-heavy meals also leave you hungry sooner after the meal, which leads to weight gain. Starches are broken up into their component sugars in the small intestine and absorbed into the bloodstream. This rise in blood sugar signals the pancreas to release loads of insulin to get the sugar out of the bloodstream and into the cells. Consequently, the response is often overkill and results in the blood sugar dropping too low, leaving you in the carb coma slump. Everybody’s carbohydrate tolerance varies, but here are three simple START SOMEWHERE strategies to minimize this eventual plummeting of blood sugar and mental alertness:
1. Put down your eating utensil after each bite. It sounds too easy but it actually works! I road-tested this last Thanksgiving and felt great after the feast. It was a savored meal with no regrets! I’m now working on this practice daily and am amazed at how much intention it requires. Portion control is not part of the challenge because it gives the stomach time to signal the brain to say “I’m full!”
2. Eat protein along with the carbohydrates. Protein (and quality fats) slow down the sugar absorption and level out the initial blood sugar spike. This is termed, “lowering the glycemic load,” and is much healthier for your brain.
3. Include plant fiber in your meal. Fiber slows down digestion and helps you feel full longer. Quality carbohydrates are those that contain soluble or insoluble fiber such as beans, fresh vegetables, and oatmeal. A diet high in quickly-absorbed carbohydrates increases the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes increases the incidence of cognitive impairment.
NOURISH LIFE with small steps to greater vitality. You can do it. I will help you.
#AskDrDebbie: “What do you think about ‘dry brushing?’” -Kara M. This is a new concept to me so here’s my research! Apparently, “skin brushing” has a long history culturally and has been used around the world in an effort to keep the skin healthy. It was used by the Greeks, the Japanese and even the Native American Comanches who were thought to scrub their skin with Texas river bottom sand. It involves a daily massage with a dry, stiff-bristled brush. Since the skin is our largest organ of detoxification, it makes sense to tend it wisely. Dry brushing has been found to:
- Exfoliate dry skin
- Detoxify the body by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph drainage
- Stimulate the nervous system
- Invigorate the body
According to Cleveland Clinic, it is beneficial for the above. I could find no evidence in the literature that it removes cellulite or aids in digestion. The good news is that it is easy and inexpensive with minimal side effects. There appears to be no harm in giving it a try. Just be sure to use a long-handled, natural bristle brush and start with light pressure. Avoid broken skin, sunburned areas, etc. It is reported to be best before a shower. Using a circular motion, brush upward toward the heart. From my current vantage point, the benefits are more than just skin deep; they extend to whole-body vitality!
Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
You will need:
3 large (or 5 small) organic sweet potatoes, thoroughly washed + peeled and roughly chopped into big chunks
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
optional: 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil
1/2 cups uncooked brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
1 10-ounce bag frozen mixed veggies: peas, carrots, green beans, and corn
2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and sliced in 1/4-inch slices
4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp melted coconut oil or avocado oil
Pinch each sea salt and black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Here’s the drill:
Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until they’re just covered. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce to medium-high heat and cook for 15-20 minutes or until they slide off a knife very easily.Once cooked, drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Use a masher or fork to mash until smooth. Add coconut oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Depending on the sweetness of sweet potatoes, add a bit of maple syrup to taste (optional). Loosely cover and set aside.While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 425 degrees F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch (or similar size) baking dish.If adding mushrooms, add portobello to a shallow dish or large Ziploc bag. Top with balsamic vinegar, oil (optional), salt, pepper, and garlic. Toss to combine and let marinate for 5 minutes.Next, heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onions, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned and caramelized – about 4-5 minutes.Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Then add lentils, vegetable broth, and thyme and stir. Bring to a low boil then reduce heat to simmer. Continue cooking until lentils are tender (20-30 minutes).(If adding mushrooms) while lentils cook, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add a dash of oil and the mushrooms with their marinade. Spread into an even layer and cook on one side for 2-3 minutes. Then carefully flip and cook on other side for 2-3 minutes. Then remove from heat and set aside.In the last 10 minutes of cooking the lentils, add the frozen veggies, stir, and cover to meld the flavors together. Drain off any extra vegetable stock (there shouldn’t be much). Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more salt and pepper for overall flavor.Transfer the lentil mixture to your oven-safe baking dish and top with portobello mushrooms (optional) then mashed sweet potatoes. Smooth down with a spoon or fork and season with another crack of pepper and a little sea salt (and more thyme if desired).Set on a baking sheet to catch any overflow and bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on top and the edges are bubbling.Let cool briefly before serving. The longer it sits, the more it will thicken. Let cool completely before covering, and then store in the fridge up to 4-5 days or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheats well in the microwave or in the oven.
Recently, a kind patient gave me a book by Brother Lawrence called The Practice of the Presence of God. His humble grace is inspiring in our busy world. “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God.” (by Brother Lawrence)