If you’ve on date recently, you may have gone through this. The adrenaline rush magnifies everything. Suddenly, the steak and potato that you usually order when dining out becomes questions of: Should I eat this or that? What will he or she think? Valentine’s Day can be even more nerve-wracking, especially if you’ve just started dating.
When stress hits men and women, each gender responds differently when having to make food choices. While men look for protein and fats to boost alertness, women may try to relax and order carbohydrates to calm the nerves.
You may be on date a looking for a relationship, so when selecting the best food for this special occasion, the middle ground is a good guideline. Experts advise that a combination of lean protein, whole carbohydrates and veggies will provide the best balance for alertness and focus, as well as relaxation.
Carbohydrates rich in the amino acid tryptophan will aid in the production of serotonin to promote a feel-good state, while a protein rich in the amino-acid, tyrosine, will support the dopamine production, which ensures you don’t forget his or her best friend’s name.
Stephanie Clarke, RD, says that portion control is really important.
“If your carb intake goes too high, you may experience and energy crash shortly after. Avoid heavy protein portions as they can slow tryptophan movement,” she says.
Adding some veggies may do more than just help keep your weight in check. Many veggies are rich in fiber and will keep your sugar level stable as well as your mood level. Food rich in healthy Omega 3-fatty acids has been shown to improve your mood, while nuts, which are high in good fats (mono saturated and omega 3), supply arginine. This amino-acid supports the formation of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, thus improving blood flow.
Great dates often include great wine. Just make sure that you count the number of drinks. From a health standpoint, here is the safe guideline: Women can have one drink while men can have two. Alcohol raises temporarily serotonin but too much will actually decrease it and cause your mood to plummet. So, avoid getting into a situation where you are crying about your ex.
Sheah Rarback, registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, summarizes the dos and don’ts to score the perfect 10 date.
A dish with almonds: The smell of almonds is said to arouse passion and the vitamin E. Magnesium and fiber improve stamina and well being.
Asparagus: They are a member of the lily family. And historically they were said to stir up lust in men and women. They are a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, fiber and vitamin C.
Foods with omega 3 fatty acids: They improve moods. Good sources salmon, halibut, cod, flax seeds and walnuts.
Foods with magnesium: They help nerves and muscles relax. Look for spinach, squash, broccoli, wheat bran, halibut, almonds, cashews, soybeans, legumes, shredded wheat, oatmeal, bananas, and even in dairy products, chocolate and meat.
Foods with potassium: They reduce the risk of muscle tiredness. Most vegetables and fruits including tomatoes, orange, avocado, raisins and potatoes fit the bill.
Chocolate: It contains theobromine, a stimulating alkaloid. Chocolate also helps with the production of serotonin.
Shitake mushrooms: It’s the only plant food with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the brain regulate the feel good neurotransmitters of serotonin, melatonin and dopamine.
Foods that cause bad breath such as onions and garlic.
Soup: Too easy to splatter on your clothing.
Spaghetti with sauce: No one looks good eating spaghetti and again too much risk of splashing sauce.
Corn on the cob.
Know yourself: Avoid foods that you know cause you gas or burping.
Very spicy foods: For many people they cause your nose and eyes to run. You don’t want to smear your makeup.
Avoid greasy food: Fats take longer to digest and may cause stomach distress.
If you’re cooking, follow this advice:
Appetizer: A small vegetable salad with spinach, cherry tomatoes, oranges, walnuts and drizzled with olive oil.
Entrée: Salmon cooked with almonds and shitake mushrooms with a side of roasted asparagus and a sweet potato.
Dessert: Dark chocolate dipped strawberries. A cup of hot peppermint tea.
Rarback’s best tip: Good conversation is the most potent aphrodisiac.
Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website, martamontenegro.com, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.