Taking care of your body obviously has physical benefits, but these gains go beyond flab-free arms and a tighter backside. The health of your physical desires may also see positive results when you’re working hard to eat well and exercise regularly. Unfortunately, some choices that seem good for you aren’t always. In fact, how intensely your body feels and how long it can last during intimacy may be cut short by foods that have “light,” “fit” or “lean” characteristics.
You’re eating too many frozen meals and prepared foods
The what: Despite their clever marketing claims, “lite” and “lean” frozen meals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. These convenient time-savers may be a perfectly-portioned, lower-fat option, but they often leave you feeling empty even though you’ve gotten more than the daily fill of sodium. Same goes for your gluten-free snack addiction. Less gluten often means more of something else (hint: it’s usually salt, fat or sugar!). And don’t think you’re in the clear with packaged protein bars, as they may be a source of sodium and fat you haven’t accounted for.
The why: Not only can too much of these “diet” foods leave you feeling bloated and completely un-sexy, but an intake of more than 2,300 mg per day of sodium and more than 5-6% of daily calories from saturated fat can hinder your cardiovascular health. You need optimal vascular circulation to achieve better stamina and an overall more enhanced experience in the bedroom. For the sake of your love life, if nothing else, you and your healthcare provider should keep tabs on key heart-health numbers, including total cholesterol (HDL and LDL), blood pressure and triglycerides.
The how you can fix it: You can still enjoy your favorite non-GMO corn chips and protein bars, but be sure to tally their sodium and fat content into your daily total. Also look for prepared foods with zero trans-fat and try to up your fiber consumption to meet the recommended 25 grams per day.
You’re letting loose on the weekends with one too many libations
The what: You can be good all week, skipping every happy hour request that comes your way. But as soon as you hear “TGIF,” your weekend is underway. Of course, alcohol seems like the perfect way to unwind from the workweek, but be mindful of how much you imbibe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans consider more than one drink for women and more than two drinks for men daily to be bingeing. One drink is 5 fluid ounces of wine, 12 fluid ounces of beer or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof liquor (i.e. one shot glass full). These numbers may seem conservative but not when you consider the consequences.
The why: Excessive drinking can cloud judgment and impair decision making, which can lead to the wrong kind of risky business when it comes to intimacy. Even people who have been married for decades can find themselves in an uncomfortable situation under the influence. Not to mention, binge drinking compromises the normal function of your heart, pancreas and liver.
The how you can fix it: It’s best to keep alcohol consumption under control. Stick to one or two drinks a day, especially during the weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the perfect opportunity to cuddle up with your honey and enjoy the work-free time together. Celebrate the weekend with a few sips of flavored sparkling water and dark-chocolate-covered strawberries. Bonus: chocolate is known to be an aphrodisiac.
You’re snacking on broccoli and hummus
The what: Snacking between meals is generally a smart idea. That’s why you try to keep yours light and healthy by relying on raw veggies and a protein-rich bean dip to hold you over. The only time it’s a bad idea is when your stomach backfires. Broccoli and chickpeas happen to be at the top of the FODMAP list. FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols, which are foods that may not sit well with certain digestive systems.
The why: Even if it’s been hours since you snacked, gas, bloating and intestinal discomfort may be lingering when you’re ready to slip under the covers and snuggle up to your sweetheart. Unfortunately, you can’t hide from these ill effects, especially if you have a more serious condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You want to keep the romance in the bedroom and minimize unnecessary trips to the bathroom.
The how you can fix it: First, speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). They may recommend you limit FODMAP foods, including milk, agave nectar, honey, broccoli, chickpeas, mannitol and sorbitol. An RDN or physician may also suggest taking a probiotic supplement to promote digestive health. For some people, it may be carbonated beverages that derail their digestive tract. Limiting even the calorie-free sodas would help ease their discomfort. Others may simply need to take a walk after eating to prompt the digestive process.
If something doesn’t feel exactly right after eating, take note and consider avoiding that irritant on special occasions, especially. The main takeaway is to be mindful of what you put in your body, knowing that the effects of your food choices can trickle down to your most intimate parts.