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FIT Connection for Teens: Food

How does eating tie in with being fit?
By Brenda Conaway
WebMD Feature

As one of the four pillars of the FIT Platform, FOOD provides the essential building blocks for your body. But the food choices you make every day affect the other areas of the FIT Platform, too. 

How FOOD Fits in With the Overall FIT Platform

FOOD gives you energy to MOVE. Calories from food fuel your body so you can go about your life. But what you eat is just as important as how much you eat. For instance, that piece of candy you eat as an afternoon pick-me-up will give you a quick energy boost -- but it won't last long and may leave you with an energy crash. A healthier choice would be a high-fiber snack with some protein, such as a few whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese. The fiber and fat are digested more slowly, giving you a steadier source of energy. Another food choice that is a MOVE-crusher is indulging in a big, heavy meal. That’s more likely to make you feel sluggish and tired rather than invigorated. A lighter meal might help you have more energy for a relaxing walk. 

FOOD can influence your MOOD and emotional health. Unfortunately, the FOOD-MOOD connection may not be what you'd hoped for. Comfort food is called that for a reason -- people often crave big meals or sweets when they need an emotional boost. The problem is that comfort eating doesn't work -- after indulging, you may not feel comforted. For example, if you feel bad, you may think, “I just want to eat cookies,” and then, if you do eat a whole bag of cookies, you feel yucky for overindulging, which just makes it worse. You’ll learn tactics to avoid this in the FOOD articles. For instance, to build your resistance to comfort eating, emphasize whole grains and fruits and vegetables. These high-fiber foods help keep you from feeling hungry all the time. That way, you'll be less likely to grab the cookies. 

The FOOD choices you make can affect how well you RECHARGE. Can what you put in your mouth affect the quality of your sleep? Absolutely. Most people know to avoid caffeine before bedtime, as well as spicy foods that can cause heartburn. But a recent study found that fat was a bigger sleep stealer than caffeine. In this study, women who ate the most fat slept less at night. Plus, they also took more naps, which indicates daytime sleepiness. To help avoid overdoing it on the fats, eat a variety of healthy foods and keep portions moderate. Your efforts may not only help your digestion, weight, and self-concept, but also help you get more shut-eye.