How Food Affects Your Sleep, With Nutritionist Kelly LeVeque
Nicki Sebastian for Parachute
Los Angeles-based nutritionist Kelly LeVeque boasts a client roster that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood: Jessica Alba, Chelsea Handler and Molly Sims are just a few of the stars who have Kelly on speed dial to talk health and recipe-making. Between promotional tours for her first book, “Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama Forever,” we caught up with the wellness guru to learn more about how food affects your sleep, the best ways to unwind before bed, and what her go-to late-night snacks are.
So tell us: How does food affect your sleep?
Research shows that consuming food close to bedtime can disrupt sleep and increase the likelihood of weight gain. Also, there is a natural cleansing of the brain that happens during sleep, and it needs a certain amount of blood flow to do that. It’s a preventive way to avoid things like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. When you go to sleep on a full stomach, your body redirects a lot of the blood flow to your digestive system. It’s important to completely digest your food to ensure a good night’s sleep, prevent neurodegenerative diseases and avoid weight gain.
What should we be eating for breakfast?
I like to start my day with a low sugar, high fiber meal like my Spa Smoothie. My clients can’t get enough of this recipe. Full of protein and healthy fats, this blend will leave you satisfied until lunch.
When should you finish your last meal of the day?
Three to four hours before bed.
What foods should people stay away from if they have trouble sleeping?
Some people think wine or alcohol will help them fall asleep. While libations might make you feel a bit more tired and relaxed, they can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. I would definitely avoid alcohol as well as any type of caffeine after lunch. Things like sugar and desserts are known to keep you awake! People often have their biggest meal of the day at night and that can become energy in the form of blood sugar that causes restless sleep. I recommend focusing on foods that balance your blood sugar like healthy fat, moderate protein, non-starchy vegetables and carbohydrates.
Do you recommend any kind of natural supplement for better sleep?
Kavinace ultra pm by NeuroScience is basically a precursor to creating neurotransmitters in the brain that help you sleep, and – bonus – it has a little melatonin in it!
How do you suggest unwinding before bed?
I love to take a bath or hot shower. The warm water helps to calm the body. I also recommend adaptogens and teas to signal to the body it’s time to unwind. It’s important to turn down the lights and turn your phone to night mode – the blue light stops the production of melatonin in the body.
What do you keep on your bedside table?
I actually don’t have a bedside table! I have a very minimalist room. I keep water out and a few essential oils by Saje that I use before bed. I rub them on my wrists and neck to help me relax after a long day. I also have ear plugs and an eye mask – they really make a difference!
What are your healthy snack recommendations?
I suggest a snack that is going to calm hunger but not spike blood sugar. A tablespoon of almond butter or coconut yogurt is very satiating! I also have a recipe for freezer fudge, which is coconut oil, almond butter, unsweetened cocoa powder and a little bit of monk fruit or stevia mixed together. It tastes like chocolate fudge but has no sugar. Win win!
The title of your book is “Body Love.” What does that term mean to you?
I find that when we think about feeling our best – being tight, being toned and being lean – the common notion is that we have to deprive ourselves. But it’s about loving your body through food and making smart choices.