By Tina Haupert

The past few weeks of my life have been crazy. I bought a house (and moved into it), finished the edits for my book, and dedicated myself to training for a marathon. Needless to say, I haven't been getting a full eight hours of sleep every night!

It was on my recent trip to Washington, D.C., that I made the connection between my food selections and my lack of sleep. When I eat whole foods and get adequate sleep, I have plenty of energy and it's easy for me to stay on track with my Feel Great Weight goals. But for the past couple of weeks I've been exhausted, and I've found myself making some not-so-healthy food choices. I had brought a healthy breakfast with me to the airport, but I chose to eat a big muffin from Starbucks instead. I thought it was all in my head, but clearly, waking up at 4 in the morning influenced my decisions.

 
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For me, sleep and healthy eating go hand in hand. When my diet includes lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and water, I have loads of energy. Preparing healthy meals and snacks is easy, and I feel much more in control of what I put into my body. Plus, my hunger becomes steady and predictable. A good night's rest also leads to a stronger body for me. The extra energy fuels my workouts. It's easier to stick to my weekly routine, and I find that I can run faster and farther, and lift more weight.

And it turns out I'm not alone! Research has shown that not getting enough sleep can seriously alter ghrelin and leptin levels, the two hormones that affect appetite! It makes sense now that I've been struggling with my workouts and food choices in recent weeks. I'm sure that my caffeine habit doesn't help either. Right now, I drink a glass of iced coffee in the morning. But sometimes I go back for a refill, which means I'm sipping two 16-ounce iced coffees until lunchtime! No wonder I sometimes have trouble sleeping! I had no idea that messing with my sleep schedule would start this type of chain reaction.

Now I know it's not all in my head. I'm sure cutting back on the caffeine I consume will also help me sleep more soundly, so I can put an end to this vicious sleep-eating cycle.