Is a meat-free lifestyle the healthiest way to be?
Believe it or not, everything you eat affects your sleep health, whether you choose a delicious steak or veggie burger? Actually, your food choices are as important as choosing whether to run 5 miles or binge-watching “Biggest Loser”.
But is following a vegan (or vegetarian) lifestyle healthier than eating meat? At times it drives us the broccoli stock, wondering about this quandary. And at night, if we’re eating meat, we can’t help but wonder if our vegan counterparts are dreaming of tofu fairies. So instead of facing another sleepless night, we went to the experts for the best advice.
Let’s start by defining the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan lifestyle?
Vegetarianism is a diet/lifestyle that excludes the consumption of meat but allows the consumption of animal byproducts, like eggs, cheese, and milk. There are many different types of vegetarians that range from eating fish and dairy but no red meat to eating nothing with a face. On the other hand are vegans. A vegan lifestyle is one that excludes any product containing an animal of any kind – including dairy. According to a wide variety of sources, vegans and vegetarians are less likely to develop heart problems, cancer, and diabetes than carnivores. In 2015, the World Health Organization took a strong stand and linked red meat to cancer.
Is there such a thing as a “vegetarian sleep diet?”
Not to be Captain Obvious, but the primary foods in a vegetarian diet are vegetables – even though meat-eaters should be eating them too. Thinking of sleep though, not all vegetables should be consumed before hitting the hay.
Vegetarian foods to avoid before bed
- Broccoli/cauliflower – Packed full of healthy nutrients, the downside of these veggies is the high amount of fiber that can keep the digestive system working overtime while you try to get shut-eye.
- Avocados – We love all things avocado but they’re chocked full of fats (good fats) at 21 grams per serving. They’re good for your body but before bed they take longer to digest.
Vegetarian foods to nosh before bed
- Sweet potatoes – A sleeper’s dream. They promote sleep-friendly carbs and contain potassium, which helps relax muscles. Similar to sweet potatoes are lima beans, bananas, and papayas.
Is there such a thing as a “meat-eater sleep diet?”
We get it and it’s ok to admit you love juicy meat and sometimes find yourself making a hog sandwich as a midnight snack. Meat is a good source of protein but should we be eating steak before bed? If not, why?
Meaty foods to avoid before bed
- Steak – Fatty foods are very high in protein, like steak. High fatty foods like red meat have been linked to sleep apnea, which can lead to a whole host of health issues over time.
- Chicken – Like red meat, chicken can backfill your digestive system during sleep. To balance back towards sleep add a carb, like bread.
Meaty foods to nosh before bed
- Turkey – At Thanksgiving, that food coma always kicks in after we demolish our fair helping of turkey. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin and regulate sleep.
So who sleeps better? Vegetarians or meat-eaters?
The answer may surprise you (and frustrate) you – there’s no definite answer if vegetarians or meat eaters sleep better. Foods from both diets contain sleep enhancers and sleep de-railers. No matter your choice, it’s easy to incorporate different foods into your diet to perfect your sleep routine.
If you aren’t a veggie eater, give them a try and see if your sleep changes for the better. On the flip side, if you follow a vegetarian diet, what sleep-friendly foods can you sub in before bedtime? Why not start with the recipe below?
Bedtime snack – Oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites
• ½ cup packed soft dates
• 2 cups quick oats
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• ½ cup + 1 heaping tbsp almond butter (it should be quite oily, if it’s dry they won’t hold together)
• ¼ cup maple syrup
• ½ tsp vanilla
• ½ tsp sea salt
• 1 cup raisins
Add everything except the raisins to a food processor and mix until mostly smooth. Remove and place in a bowl. Add the raisins and mix them in with your hands. Roll into approximately 16 balls. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container. Recipe via RunningonRealFood.com