Over the last few weeks I've been talking to a load of people at my 5 Steps to Increasing Your Energy Workshops about where they struggle the most with their energy levels, and there are definitely a few things that have been cropping up time and time again.
Do any of these feel familiar?
- "I find myself reaching for [insert your version of: chocolate/ sweets/ crisps] when the 11am/ 3pm slump hits, even though I know it's a short term fix"
- "I don't have time to cook healthy food. I'm too busy so need something quick and easy"
- "I'm always tired because [insert your version of: I don't sleep well/ I've got young children who wake at night/ I have a stressful job], so reach for coffee to keep me going"
Firstly, please don't think solving these is all about will power! The more of the bad stuff we eat the more our bodies want it. The more our bodies need it! So it's NOT about will power.
It's about making healthier choices, listening to your body, and one step at a time learning what does and doesn't work for you.
The good news is there are lots of things you CAN do to overcome these, without depriving yourself of the foods you love.
Below are the things we've been discussing in the workshops, so I hope you find them useful too. And of course if you want to join the next workshop, click here to find out where and when it's taking place.
1. Have healthy snacks on hand for when the sugar monster cravings hit
Often we reach for the biscuits, chocolate bar or sweets because that's what's there. Think ahead and buy in some healthier alternatives to reach for when the 11am or 3pm slump hits. These could include:
- Avocado on oat/ rice cake
- Chopped vegetables (carrots, cucumber and peppers are naturally sweet, but you can use anything you like) and hummous
- A handful of nuts and seeds
- Homemade healthy treats, such as:
Eating snacks like these will keep your blood sugar levels stable, keep you fuller for longer and stop you wanting to reach for the the sugar.
2. Eat more whole grains
Like sugar, when we eat a lot of white foods (white bread, white pasta, white rice and white potatoes), our blood sugar rises quickly, then crashes, leaving us hungry for more. Adding more whole grains into your diet will fill you with higher quality nutrients and give you a slower release of energy.
Try cooking a big batch of brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat at the start of the week and keep it in the fridge so you have it ready when you need it. You can replace whole grains with any of the white foods I just mentioned.
New to whole grains? Download Great Grains here for an easy guide of what they are and how to cook them!
3. Replace one coffee - or tea - with a herbal tea, water, decaf or smoothie
Caffeine stimulates the release of adrenalin and cortisol - the stress hormones. So even though you're just enjoying a morning cuppa, your body goes into survival (fight or flight) mode, and respond accordingly (weight gain, bad skin, sleep disruption, digestive issues). Sad face, I know.
But this is where listening to your body comes in. If you intuitively know you drink more coffee or tea than your body can handle (typically more than 2 cups a day, although it's different for everyone), try switching one of those for a herbal tea, glass of water, smoothie or decaf.
4. Spend time preparing and planning your meals (so you can cook more)
A little prep and planning will save you a lot of time in the long run, allowing you to cook more and make healthier food choices. Home cooked food is less processed, fresher, and less seasoned than store bought food, restaurant food and take aways. This means you're getting more nutrient dense food, boosting your immune system, health and of course, energy levels.
- When you do a food shop, spend a little time chopping (or even cooking) your veg and popping into tupperware in the fridge so it's ready when you need it.
- Make up a big batch of whole grains at the start of the week so it's ready to add to your meal when you start cooking.
- Pick a day and time that works for you to plan your meals for the week ahead
These simple steps will allow you to spend less time worrying about WHAT to cook and more time actually cooking!
5. Make a date with yourself, for 30 minutes to 1 hour a week
When we're low on energy, we're pretty bad at looking after ourselves. But prioritising time for self-care can have a big impact on your moods, energy levels, sleep, relationships and more.
So spend 30 minutest to 1 hour a week doing something that truly nourishes you. Some of the things we came up with in the workshops are:
- Practising yoga
- Walking with your headphones in and music/ podcast/ audio book on
- Having a bath with the lights down low (and glass of wine!)
- Curling up on the sofa and reading a book
- Cooking (for pleasure, not necessity!)
Choose something for you, schedule it into your diary and get whoever you live with on board so they can hold you accountable to doing it!
Now, please note that I haven't said "cut [insert your favourite food] out", because life is too short for that! What I have suggested is that you add some healthier alternatives into your life.
This simple process of adding more of the good stuff in, will naturally see some of bad stuff fall away.
This is a concept I work with all of my clients on, so if you'd like to talk more about how to increase your energy levels, or reach any other health goal you have, let's chat. I offer a free phone consultation, so you can schedule it for a time that suits you, and we can discuss where you struggle the most and of course, how I can help.