Q: I get mid-day cravings for sweets, but feel sluggish after I eat them. Any suggestions?
– Alyssa from North Carolina
A: You’re unknowingly trying to self-medicate with food. High-carbohydrate foods, such as sweets, raise dwindling levels of a nerve chemical called serotonin, that regulates mood, energy level, appetite, and sleep. When serotonin levels are low, we crave sweets, which in turn, raise serotonin levels and turn off the cravings. However, elevated serotonin levels also relax us, which can make us drowsy and more likely to snooze than feel energized. You can get the same serotonin boost, but avoid the crash if you turn to complex carbohydrates. Try a half whole-wheat English muffin toasted with jam, air-popped popcorn, or a half cinnamon-raisin bagel with honey. Keep the portion small, since large snacks also make us drowsy. -Elizabeth Somer