Eat better for life series: no. 1 - Energy
Our bodies are machines which need fuelling. All the processes that go on in the background are mind-boggling, in fact our minds have no awareness of them whatsoever…until we start to feel unwell, or until we start to fuel ourselves in a better what and understand what healthy eating can do for us. Here is a little ARC mantra to help you:
A is for Awareness - learn what foods can help you have more energy throughout the day. Here are some of my favourites:
Complex carbohydrates: brown rice, whole grains, pulses, oats and oatmeal – slower to digest, releasing energy over a longer period, particularly at breakfast time.
Left: peanut butter oats with millet and quinoa flakes, pumpkin seeds, fruits and raw cacao powder. Here's the recipe: https://www.themindfuleatingclinic.com/post/overnight-oats-with-peanut-butter-and-summer-fruits
Spinach is a great energy giving food providing iron which helps transport oxygen to all the muscles of the body and magnesium which has a key role to play in energy production. Raw in salad or sandwiches, lightly wilted with dinner.
Right: homemade courgette and pumpkin seed cheesy quiche with raw leave spinach, leaves and dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Eggs are a complete protein and such an easy food to get into your diet. Protein is essential for cell maintenance and skeletal function. Eggs also contain large amounts of vitamin D which is important in providing us with energy (particularly when sun exposure is limited) So eat eggs – for breakfast, lunch or supper!
Left: two poached organic eggs with mashed avocado on sourdough toast and watercress
Nuts and seeds provide terrific protein, vitamin E and essential fats and are great as a snack. Use them to stave off hunger rather than chocolate or crisps which have limited nutritious benefit and can cause a sugar spike. Seeds also contain zinc which is used to produce hormones which affect energy and mood.
Oily fish like salmon provides us with protein, essential fats and more vitamin D. Try to eat salmon, mackerel, sardines or tuna at least once a week. They are all very flexible ingredients, easy to eat hot or cold.
Left: lunch salad of cold salmon fillet, mixed leaves, tomatoes, half an avocado, tahini & lemon juice dressing, pumpkin seeds + oatcakes
Dehydration is one of the key factors in loss of energy – so drink plenty of water or herbal tea. Reduce alcohol too if you want to keep your energy levels up.
R is for rhythm - without regular food, dips and drops in blood sugar level cause fatigue and loss of concentration. So how can you improve that? Get the day off to a good start with a nutritious breakfast. Eat protein with slow release carbohydrates (whole grains like jumbo oats or wholemeal seeded bread) with protein (eggs or nuts & seeds in homemade muesli with milk). Try to eat regularly throughout the day and listen to your physical hunger. Don’t allow yourself to get ravenous as this encourages quick choices which may not always be the most nutritious. Take nutrient dense snacks with you (nuts, seeds, bananas, no-sugar protein bars). If we are starving we will also eat fast and more ‘mindlessly’. Eat what you need for a snack, and avoid turning it into a meal. Eating more slowly will help you tap into your hunger cues (see my video on mindful eating) here:
or if you want to learn more about how mindful eating can benefit your body and your mind click here:
C is for crashes (of the sugar kind). This graphic shows clearly what happens when we eat high sugar or simple carbohydrate foods (cakes, biscuits, milk chocolate, crisps, white rice, white pasta, burger buns) or when we reach for a sugary snack. Try to change your habits to make more nutritious, slow release (complex carbohydrate) choices which will sustain your energy levels (and also be kinder to your waistline). You can reduce the rate at which carbs are converted to glucose by eating them with protein, and resistant starch is also lower in its glycaemic reaction, containing more fibre (that means white pasta if reheated is less quick release) - but that's a whole other nutrition article! For now, just ease up on the sugar (and the alcohol too!)
You can see from this graphic that we get used to the effect f sugar. It is possible to break it though - just try it and you'll be amazed.
If you think you might be deficient in any essential nutrients or you'd simply like a check on how your diet is working for you, I can offer a full nutritional analysis. This service costs £87 which includes a full report and a consultation to talk through my findings. It'll inform you how you can eat differently to have a healthier nutritional profile and support your body's processes in the best way possible.
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