Why do I feel so hungry after a bad night’s sleep?

Sleep can have a powerful effect on appetite – getting too little sleep can alter the way your brain makes decisions about food and disturb our hormone levels, which can stimulate feelings of hunger and the likelihood of impulsive eating. Levels of leptin – a hormone that regulates satiety – decrease, while the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin goes on the rise. Being tired affects brain function in several ways that can change your eating behaviour. Sleep loss increases impulsivity and stimulates the reward centres of your brain, making you more prone to eat foods high in calories, fat and sugar. Stress and mood are negatively affected by lack of sleep and can make you more likely to eat for reasons other than hunger. And the body appears to be driven to eat more after a night of poor sleep to compensate for the energy expended being awake. Sleep is more than just rest for your body and mind; it helps you manage appetite and healthful eating.

Will a high-protein diet help me lose weight?

People tend to lose more weight on a high-protein diet rather than a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. Protein is more satiating, so your body burns more calories digesting protein than carbohydrates, and replacing carbs with protein causes the body to eliminate excess fluid, which shows up on the scale as weight loss. On the other hand, eating lots of refined carbs causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to fat storage, while protein results in more stable blood sugar. But many high-protein diets are problematic because they cut out important fibres found in whole grains and fruit, which can lead to constipation. A balanced diet that includes protein along with good carbs, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, at every meal will make you more energetic and keep you fuller for longer. This will likely reduce your overall calorie intake for the day, resulting in weight loss.

By the end of the week, my fresh vegetables are wilting in my refrigerator drawer. Are they still more nutritious than frozen?

No, wilted vegetables are unlikely to be as nutritious as frozen vegetables. Most vegetables today are picked, cleaned and prepared right in the field and frozen within a few hours. They maintain a nutritional content that is as high, and sometimes higher, than produce that you purchase fresh in the stores. After a week at the bottom of the refrigerator, fresh vegetables lose more than just their taste. So buy both. Use your fresh veggies first and your frozen variety at the end of the week. Just make sure that you purchase plain frozen products without added creams and sauces.