By Beth McBurney
Do you wish you had more energy? Have you ever experienced that crash in the middle of the afternoon that has you reaching for coffee, soda, or anything to pick you up?
Yep, that used to be me. I would be dragging mid-morning and again in the middle of the afternoon. Diet soda was my go-to and I’d make a latte run periodically as well.
That is, until I learned that what I was eating and feeding my body made a significant impact in my energy.
The food we eat affects your energy levels and therefore determines your ability to be productive and focused. Certain foods zap your energy while others give you the nutrients you need to keep you feeling energized. Energy-zapping foods include refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and fatty and processed foods.
If you want to stay on top of your game and be your most vibrant, energetic self, you need to evaluate what you are eating. Focus on eating whole, fresh foods. These foods give you sustained energy so you can be productive throughout the day.
What are fresh, whole foods? Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, legumes and lean protein. These foods are not processed so they still have all of the vital nutrients you need to keep you going. Eat good fats, too. Olive oil, avocados, walnuts, almonds, fish and coconut oil, for example. Our bodies need healthy fats for energy.
Quick Tip: Whole and fresh foods are located around the perimeter of the grocery store.
I think it is wise to spend most of your time and money there.
WATER. It’s important to drink water regularly throughout the day. Dehydration can cause sleepiness. So, before you reach for sugar or caffeine, drink water and see how you feel.
To get in the habit of drinking more water, I encourage people to try this: fill up a water bottle and drink that by midday. Fill it up again and drink that by the end of the afternoon.
Drinking water throughout the day will help crowd out some of the sugary drinks and snacks you may otherwise have consumed to give you a boost in energy.
I believe that one of the most important factors in the success of eating healthy and staying energized is PLANNING.
At our house, we sit down every weekend and plan our meals for the upcoming week.
We take out our calendar, plan each dinner meal and shop accordingly. This is effective for so many reasons. It eliminates the 4:00 in the afternoon question of “what are we having for dinner?” as well as the last minute decision to go out to dinner because it’s easier.
Planning also keeps us within a budget because we aren’t shopping for impulse items (like sugary, processed snacks) just because we are hungry. It also sets us up for having leftovers, which can then serve as lunch the next day. Which brings me to….
I recommend doing this the night before when you are cleaning up after dinner. Taking your lunch to work saves money and decreases visits to fast food restaurants (avoiding the fatty foods).
I also like to pack snacks in my bag to avoid those times my stomach starts growling and eliminate temptations to visit the nearest vending machine. Try taking along fruit, cut veggies, nuts and seeds.
One more point….do you skip breakfast?
I hear people all the time say they skip this important meal because they are too busy in the morning. I get it – I know mornings can be hectic but eating a good, healthy breakfast sets you up for healthy eating the rest of the day.
I make sure to include protein to keep my blood sugar stable and avoid those mid-morning crashes.
So the next time you are feeling sleepy and sluggish during the day, evaluate what you’ve been eating.
It may just be that making some tweaks to your diet is what you need to be more energized, more focused and get more done.
Make it a priority to eat whole and fresh foods. Chances are, you will feel better and your body will thank you.
Beth McBurney is a Certified Health Coach who is dedicated to helping people achieve optimal health and lead fulfilling and joyful lives. She provides individualized health and lifestyle coaching to people who are ready to make sustainable and long-lasting changes.
Through manageable and practical recommendations and her 3-part system, Beth’s clients find clarity, take action, and celebrate their successes along the way.
Beth earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. In 2012, she graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she received her training and certification in health coaching. She is also a Certified Transformational Coach.
Beth McBurney, MA
Certified Health Coach
Forward Focus Living, LLC
“By virtue of being human, each of us has the capacity to choose, to change, to grow.” ~Eknath Easwaran