What to eat can be so overwhelming! Should you focus on brain health, heart health, weight loss, low fat, low carb…see what I mean? A good place to start is to eat for more energy and to feel good. When you’re feeling energized, you’re able to accomplish what you need and want. Not to mention you’ll be fueled to focus on other healthy habits like exercise, weight maintenance or loss, getting good sleep, and reducing stress.
One of the perks of being in the health and wellness field is that I’ve built a wonderful network of trusted, knowledgable professionals. To get accurate, easy-to-follow nutrition information, I turn to Rima Kleiner, MS, RD-N of Smart Mouth Nutrition. Keep reading for five quick tips to eat for more energy.
1. Start with mindful eating.
Just like in my coaching practice, Rima encourages clients in her nutrition practice to become more aware before making any changes. The best way to start is with mindful eating: listening to your body before, during and after you eat. If you are having digestive issues or just not feeling great after you eat, really take inventory of what you ate when and how you feel afterwards. There are no set trigger foods… what triggers cramping or bloating for one person may not be a trigger for you.
It’s helpful to keep a food diary that includes what you ate, how much of it you ate, what time you ate it, and how it made you feel (energized and satisfied or bloated and sluggish?). This way, you can look for patterns and start to recognize the foods that work (and don’t work) for you. Use a simple notebook, or consider an app such as YouAte.
2. Drink more water!
Water is the main component of blood, helping to carry nutrients to our cells and carting waste products away. Feeling low in energy is typically one of the first signs that you need more fluid. Try putting a rubber band around your water bottle for every time you refill it so you can keep track. Aim to drink water with every meal. And, if you’re drinking alcohol or other non-water drinks, be sure to drink a glass of water between glasses of cocktails or other beverages to help keep you hydrated.
3. Begin the day with breakfast!
The best way to break that night-time fast and replenish your fuel stores is to eat a breakfast that contains high-fiber carbohydrate and a little heart-healthy protein and fat. This helps us improve focus and manage blood sugar levels. Some easy ideas for a breakfast rich in fiber and heart-healthy fats and protein:
- Overnight steel-cut oats w/ berries and nuts/seeds
- Plain yogurt w/ fruit and homemade or low-sugar granola
- Smoothie made w/ yogurt or nut butter, berries, and spinach
- Breakfast tacos w/ corn tortilla, spinach, cheddar, and avocado
4. Eat more iron-rich foods, including plant-based sources.
Iron is important for helping to make sure oxygen gets into cells, and iron levels that are too low can cause fatigue and slow us down. Meat contains iron, but–to increase vegetable and iron intake–try eating more plant-based iron. This includes beans, lentils, spinach, and other dark leafy greens and seeds. And vitamin C helps us absorb iron, so add an orange, kiwi,or bell pepper along with your plant-based iron-rich meal.
5. Steer clear of detoxes, cleanses, or fad diets.
Fad diets and cleanses are appealing to some because of the ease of a prescribed list of guidelines or rules to follow. And, these sometimes do lead to weight loss, sometimes rapid weight loss. But, unfortunately, the science shows us that these diets and cleanses do not hold up in the long term. Also, diets and cleanses often drastically reduce the number of calories you are eating as well as eliminate entire food groups leaving you feeling sluggish and zapped of energy. Your best bet is a balanced diet including plenty of water, breakfast, and iron-rich veggies.
Now you can be on your way to eating for more energy, as well as feeling good!
If you’re looking to work with someone on specific food issues or concerns, it’s important to find someone who is knowledgeable and appropriately credentialed to help you. A Registered Dietitian, like Rima, has received the science-based education and experience necessary to best support you with your specific food-based concerns.