It happens. Whether you’re up tossing and turning over work stress, caring for a sick child or pet, or up to “no good” of the happy-fun-times variety, lack of sleep can really put a damper on your day. Sometimes we have to pretend those 3-hours of shut-eye are 8.

Since lack of sleep disrupts the function of “hunger hormones” leptin and ghrelin, we may notice we feel more hungry when we’re running on little shut-eye. Leptin, produced by the fat cells, suppresses hunger, and ghrelin increases appetite, so when those are out of whack, it’s harder to tune in to our internal hunger cues.

IMG 6936 300x300 - What to Eat when you're ExhaustedRather than try to ignore your growling stomach, plan around it. For example, if I would normally have a large breakfast, I’ll have a slightly smaller one, knowing that I’ll want a snack partway through the morning. My go-to is a big bowl of veggies with egg whites and a little tahini and/or goat cheese, maybe a teaspoon of hemp seeds on top. This tends to keep me going for a few hours, after which I might have a piece of fruit or a little yogurt.

Spacing out mini-meals helps keep your energy up and prevents you from overdoing it in one sitting. Protein and fiber are especially important to help you feel satisfied.  A few ideas:

  • A veggie omelet
  • Whole-grain toast with avocado and a tsp of chia seeds
  • Greek yogurt with fruit and high-fiber cereal or flax/chia seeds
  • An apple with nut butter

Since we’re more likely to feel emotional or irritable when we’re exhausted, show yourself a little TLC by perhaps treating yourself to a a healthy meal from a favorite cafe you wouldn’t normally spend the money on. Don’t beat yourself up about the $8 green juice if you need that for a mid-morning pick-me-up.

Also worth noting: though it can be tempting to fill up on coffee throughout the day, don’t. A cup of the real deal first thing is fine, and maybe another before noon if you need it is fine, but you want to avoid getting yourself in a vicious cycle. Take it from someone who’s been there…This might sound basic and boring, but the most important thing to drink is water to keep your cells hydrated. If nothing else, having to get out of your chair every hour or so to pee will get your blood circulating and give you a mini wake-up call each time.

Whenever you feel yourself getting mad or upset about being so damn tired, take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can try again tonight. When all else fails, a little under eye concealer and red lipstick. goes a long, long way.

What do you eat when you’re sleep-deprived? 

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