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Dear Hungry Girl,

I hear eating certain foods can make you feel less cranky and irritable. Is this true, and if so, what should I be eating to make me less crabby?

Cranky Pants

Dear Cranky Pants,

We all get crabby now and then (some of us more often than others, it's true), and what you eat definitely can affect your mood. It's a known fact that super-concentrated refined sugar sources like soda, candy, jelly and juices will do funky things to your blood sugar levels (radical spikes and dips!), and that can make you feel crabby and tired. White starches -- like most bread, bagels, chips, etc. -- can do the same thing. Experts say foods rich in soluble fiber can slow down the absorption of sugar and prevent crazy mood swings. Things like oats (slow cooking oatmeal is great!), brown rice, beans, oranges, strawberries, etc. are all good sources. Protein is also great at keeping your blood sugar levels from fluctuating drastically. So snack on lean meats, seafood, etc. to feel more alert and productive. In short, while things like gummy bears and chips may give you a quick energy boost, in the end they can make you feel sluggish and even cranky. So choose your snacks carefully. For more on this, check out my article on Yahoo! about how what you eat affects your mood.

Dear Hungry Girl,

I love the idea of using fat-free versions of sour cream, mayo and cream cheese, but I don't like the way they taste at all. Have any tips for me?

Finicky About Fat-Free

Dear Finicky,

A lot of people feel the way you do -- that fat-free versions of normally fatty foods like mayo, cream cheese, etc. simply don't taste good. And you know what? You guys aren't wrong. Fat-free mayo ISN'T as good as real mayo. Some people (like me) have taste buds that are more forgiving than others, but even I know that sometimes fat-free cream cheese alone just doesn't cut it. The key, in my opinion, is to figure out smart ways to use these ingredients. So what I do is use these fat-free versions in recipes. You'd be surprised how AWESOME fat-free cream cheese becomes when you mix it with pumpkin, no-cal sweetener and pumpkin spice. And how good a little fat-free sour cream is when mixed with a Laughing Cow Light cheese wedge (hello, alfredo sauce!). I can almost guarantee that even the most stubborn haters of fat-free foods will learn to appreciate (and even LOVE) using this stuff in recipes. You really just need to play around with 'em and see what works for you. All three of these low-cal foods are great for making creamy dressings, dips, sauces, toppings and more that are guilt-free! Do not fear the me on this one!


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