By Elizabeth May, RDN, CSOWM, LDN

Researchers at the University of Guelph found an interesting link between hunger and mood. Read more about the study published in Psychopharmacology here.

The Basic Gist
Rats were given glucose blockers to induce hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). When the rats were removed from this chamber and injected with some water, they avoided going back in the original chamber where they experienced the hypoglycemic reaction. When researchers checked the rats, they found elevated levels of corticosterone (stress indicator). The rats were apparently stressed from the hypoglycemic experience. Not surpisingly, the rats were also more sluggish after being given the glucose blockers. However, when the rats were given antidepressants, they weren’t sluggish.
The rats experienced both stress and depression when given the glucose blockers. Researchers pointed out that hypoglycemia could have a negative long term effect on depression or even on causing depression. Nutrition yet again plays such a huge role in health!
How To Manage Hypoglycemia
  • Eat 5 to 6 small meals or snacks each day rather than 2 or 3 large meals to help steady the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
  • Eat consistent amounts of carbohydrates at meals and snacks each day and avoid skipping meals.
  • Spread carbohydrate foods throughout the day. Include protein foods and vegetables at each meal for satiety and extra calories, if needed.
  • Avoid foods that have a lot of sugar and carbohydrate, especially on an empty stomach. Examples are regular soft drinks (sugar-sweetened beverages), syrup, candy, regular fruited yogurt, cookies, pie, and cake.
  •  Avoid beverages and foods that contain caffeine. Caffeine can cause the same symptoms as hypoglycemia.
  • If you choose to drink, limit alcoholic beverages to 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach and without food can cause hypoglycemia.

By Elizabeth May, RDN, CSOWM, LDN

Frozen meals have their time and place in a healthy eating pattern. They can be convenient, affordable and if you are careful, they can still be relatively healthy!

Frozen meals can even be effective for weight management. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Weight Management Position Paper  recommends utilizing 1-2 meal replacements a day as a weight loss strategy. With this in mind, let’s get to know some good options that are out there.

Brands to Look for: 
  • Healthy Choice Power Bowls
  • Health Choice Cafe Steamers Simply (low carb)
  • Health Choice Cafe Steamers
  • Lean Cuisine
  • Weight Watchers Smart Ones
  • Amy’s
  • EVOL
  • Kashi
  • Luvo
  • Sweet Earth
  • Caulipower Pizzas
  • Gardein
  • Red’s Natural Foods
  • Green Giant Steamers
  • Some Trader Joes meals (with discretion)
General Nutrition Guidelines for Frozen Meals:
  • <500 calories
  • <500 mg sodium
  • 0 g trans fats / no hydrogenated oils
  • >15 grams protein
  • >4 g fiber
  • No added sugar (read labels)
  • <4 grams saturated fat
Other Tips for Meals:
  • Meal Components: Protein (beans, poultry, lean meat, fish, edamame) + Veggie + Whole Grain/Starch (brown rice, corn, sweet potatoes, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, etc.)
  • Meal Balance: >1/2 cup veggies, 3-4 oz protein, small portion starch/grain
  • Look for lean meats (pork tenderloin, chicken, turkey, fish)
  • Skip fried foods, meals with gravy and cream sauces and pasta/carb heavy meals
  • To add more veggies to the frozen meal: Add side salad or pop a frozen bag in the microwave
  • To add more protein to the meal: Add beans, an egg or slices of chicken
  • To add healthy fat to the meal: Add some avocado
  • Omit the sauce from the frozen meal or use less of it
  • Wanting dessert after the meal? Choose some fresh fruit like berries with SF whipped topping or grill apples/pears or eat a few dried dates