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Stories from Eat-Drink, Nourish

A Nutritionist’s Guide to Energising and Mood-boosting Foods

by Voices Wellness 12 Oct 2021
Photo: Caroline

You may have heard of the Glycaemic Index and the role that it plays in reducing your sugar intake and improving overall health. Here’s how low-GI meals can help lift your mood. By culinary nutritionist CAROLINE CHOW; edited by SAMANTHA FRANCIS.

When dining out, many of our meals—whether it’s a flavourful hot pot or a greasy hawker feast, can lead to high blood sugar spikes followed by an inevitable drop. This leads to mood swings, energy lulls, and added stress on the body. Not surprisingly, many of these foods rank highly on the Glycaemic Index (GI) due to a lack of nutrients such as fibre and healthy fats.

To avoid the above-mentioned blood sugar spikes and accompanying feelings of hunger, try to incorporate low GI meals into your daily life. A good goal is to ensure that your meal contains sources of protein, fibre, and healthy fats. Each of these components will lessen the impact that sugar has on the body by slowing the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. Plus, they’ll help lift your mood and keep you satiated for much longer.

Photo: Caroline

Let’s consider how a donut might impact your body versus a bowl of granola with fruit and yogurt. While a donut provides carbohydrates for your body to quickly burn through, once that source of fuel is gone, the subsequent crash and energy slump will leave you feeling worse for the wear. Meanwhile, a hearty bowl of fruit, yoghurt, and oat-loaded granola will impact the body differently. Although berries, yoghurt, and oats are sources of sugar, the protein and fats in the yogurt and nuts will take longer for the body to digest and convert into fuel, thus slowing down the absorption of the meal and keeping hunger at bay. Plus, the extra fibre and antioxidants from the berries can help to reduce the risk of various diseases.

If you’re struggling to make healthy food choices when dining out, a quick rule of thumb is to ensure that each of your meal or snacks contain these three components.

  1. Protein such as non-GMO tofu/soy, chicken, beef, pork, fish, lentils, beans, and protein powder.
  2. Fibre from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and millet.
  3. Healthy fats from avocado, chia, hemp hearts, coconut oil, fatty fish, nut butters such as almond or cashew.


Need a quick boost of energy? Try these simple recipes to keep you feeling satiated and happy.

Cashew cinnamon energy bites: These are great to enjoy on the go with fibre from the medjool dates, healthy fats from the cashew butter, and protein from the almonds, protein powder, and collagen powder. Recipe here.

Vegetarian bibimbap bowl: A delicious and well-rounded meal with protein and healthy fats from the egg, as well as fibre from the marinated vegetable toppings including carrots, zucchini, and spinach. The recipe can also be simplified with a store-bought bibimbap sauce. Recipe here.

Energy-boosting super smoothie: A satisfying smoothie that also works as a meal replacement. It checks off all the boxes with avocado as the main source of healthy fats, cauliflower for fibre (the taste is virtually undetectable!), and protein powder as the source of protein. Recipe here.

Read Caroline’s blog here.

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