Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder which affects 22 million Americans. The number of sleep apnea sufferers has increased steadily along with the rising obesity epidemic. Our everyday routines and lifestyle choices have a huge impact on this sleep disorder. Smoking, stress, drinking, and exercise are only some of the factors which can affect this condition, either positively or negatively. Another aspect which has an enormous effect on sleep apnea is our eating habits. Obesity has a huge role in the incidence and management of this condition.
So, if you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and want to know what you should and shouldn’t consume, you’re at the right place. Keep reading if you want to learn what your diet should include in order to shed those extra pounds, which might be the crucial step in eliminating the symptoms.
What Should Your Sleep Apnea Diet Include?
There are plenty of popular diet programs which promise quick weight loss. However, in order to achieve long-term, sustainable weight loss, you should definitely focus on a whole-food, plant-based diet. This kind of diet won’t only help you get rid of the extra weight, but also prevent or reverse many common chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Here is what your diet should consist of if you have sleep apnea.
Whole grains, such as whole wheat, bulgur, brown rice, oats, and quinoa, are packed with nutrients and fibers. Our bodies need these nutrients and fibers to satisfy our need for food and keep us full for a longer amount of time. The old-fashioned oats are the most popular and a healthy whole grain which contains beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that provides various health benefits.
Fruits and Vegetables
You probably know how healthy and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables are. In fact, they are packed with fibers, which promotes fullness and contain almost no calories. Hence, the longer the feeling of fullness persists, you’re less likely to overeat. Eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial for the overall health and will help you lose weight which contributes to your condition. However, note that bananas might not be the ideal fruit to consume if you want to lose weight.
Low-Fat Dairy Products
Low-fat dairy products abound in protein, vitamin D, and calcium. They’re also great to consume as they increase satiety and promote your healthy weight loss process. Hence, you can consume skim or fat-free milk and low-fat varieties of yogurt and cottage cheese.
The unsaturated fats in plant-based oils are an excellent dietary choice for overweight sleep apnea patients. Plant-based oil, such as canola, olive, safflower, sunflower, and flaxseed oil are the perfect substitute for saturated fats in butter and margarine. Use these oils in your salads or for cooking your meals.
What Shouldn’t Your Sleep Apnea Diet Include?
There are certain kinds of food you should avoid when dealing with this sleep disorder. The following foods don’t only hurt your good night’s sleep, but they also don’t benefit your health in general.
As we mentioned before, bananas are the only fruit you should avoid eating if you want to lose some weight or manage sleep apnea. Bananas are the exception to the rule that fruits improve your sleep apnea symptoms. This fruit increases mucus production, which deteriorates your breathing. However, if you can’t resist eating a banana, make sure you consume it earlier in the day.
If you are a passionate meat eater, this information wouldn’t make you happy. However, as delicious as meat is, it can be the type of food which wrecks your health and diet. This also includes fried chicken and fish. But you can safely eat chicken and fish if they’re not fried, but healthily cooked.
Refined carbohydrates, such as breakfast cereals, bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweet desserts, are packed with a high amount of added sugar. Hence, they add to your weight gain and increase the risk of sleep apnea, which is the last thing you want.
High-fat dairy products are obviously high in fat. Hence, whole milk, heavy cream, butter, and cheddar cheese shouldn’t be part of your daily diet. Instead, substitute them with low-fat dairy products.
Additional Tips for Your Sleep Apnea Diet
Here are some healthy food replacement ideas you should consider incorporating into your diet:
- Replace potato chips with popcorn for a healthy snack.
- Try Greek yoghurt instead of sour cream, which especially tastes great with baked potatoes.
- Eat almonds instead of croutons, which you can add in salads.
- Consume chia seeds rather than breadcrumbs in recipes like meatballs and meatloaf.
- Drink cocoa instead of milk chocolate which has added sugar.
- Romaine lettuce tastes better than Iceberg lettuce.
- Use olive oil and vinegar rather than creamy dressing for salads.’
- Drink tea or fruit-infused water rather than sugary sodas which only grow your waistline.