The number one complaint i have seen in both my practice and as a student in the uni clinic is a lack of energy on a day to day basis. It seems to be a complaint everyone has at least from time to time. Did you know that the foods we eat can definitely influence how energised we feel? Sometimes the effects can be instant.
If you you feel like crawling back in to bed at 3pm here are some things to look out for:
- Grains found in highly processed foods like bread, pasta and rice dishes can really slow down our digestion. The cell walls of the grain itself are quite tough and take a lot energy to break down and absorb nutrients from the food. This is why you might be be feeling quite drained and sleepy after a big pasta dish.
Processed carbohydrates like these also spike our blood sugar levels, which leads to a crash an hour or so later leaving us feeling de-energised. Try to keep these foods to a minimum, particularly at lunchtime or beware the 3pm slump at your desk.
- Alcohol is another energy drainer, it can wreak havoc on the balance of bacteria in our gut leading to some not so nice symptoms the next day like diarrhoea, bloating and feeling really worn out, not to mention the dehydration involved leaving us feeling hungover.
Try to limit your alcohol consumption to 1-2 nights per week and keep an eye on how many drinks you're actually consuming. A couple of wines with friends is a nice way to unwind, but be aware of what overdoing it can do to your body and your energy levels.
- Sugary foods, as with processed carbs, can give us the pick me up we're looking for in the half hour after eating them, but with the sugar high we must come down with a sugar low, making us feel worse than when we ate the sugary food. If you're in need of a pick me up reach for a handful of almonds, or some veggie sticks with nut butter or hummus. These protein dense foods will fill us up and release energy slowly so we can continue with the day feeling alert.
- Takeaway foods are a pretty obvious one we should be avoiding as much as possible. Even foods that you would think are okay because they contain vegetables- like chinese food can be full of things we can't see like highly processed oils, chemicals like MSG and other flavour enhancing ingredients that should be avoided. The strain on our liver to detoxify from these ingredients can leave us feeling tired and lethargic, our skin looking dull and blemished and our digestion sluggish. Try and limit your takeaway food consumption to treat nights, not a regular occurrence.
As well as what we're eating, our sleep hygiene is just as important.
- Try and go to bed at the same time every night, shut off electronics half an hour to an hour before bed to reduce your exposure to blue light, which studies show interrupts our brain signalling and making it harder to feel relaxed enough to fall asleep
- Manage your stress through regular exercise and mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing and meditation. Find activities that make you happy and feeling relaxed. Getting out into nature is a great way to get the good vibes flowing.
- Nutrients like magnesium can really help us shut down and fall asleep, as well as the quality of our sleep. I like to use a magnesium and lavender spray before bed, which I spray onto the tops of my feet. This is one of the best ways to absorb magnesium (through the skin) as it gets to work straight away allowing muscle regeneration and relaxation.
Creating good lifestyle habits and looking at the foods we eat are the first steps to re-energising our bodies. If you are still feeling like you're dragging yourself through each day, seeing a nutritionist or naturopath could be the next step in re-energising your life.