Have you ever noticed a theme amongst those around you regarding energy? Is it just me or do a lot of us feel tired a great deal of the time? I believe that we have come to accept this but there are certainly things we can be doing to improve our energy levels. This is a broad-spectrum topic with a lot of contributing factors, eating habits, exercise, stress, sleep, environment. This week I want to touch on one of the factors; what are you eating?
Have you ever had a meal, as delicious as it was, and found yourself feeling lethargic soon after? Our digestion takes up 10% of our daily expenditure of energy, this can grow higher depending on what you've eaten. If you are consuming food that your digestive tract is struggling to break down, more of your energy is going to deplete. What you feed your body is its fuel. If you are not giving it the vitamins and minerals it thrives on, you are essentially running a high premium car on the lowest grade fuel. This doesn't have to be complicated, don't worry about those superfoods and fancy things you see in the health food aisle. This is about fruit, veggies, whole grains, legumes, fresh meats, the basics we all grew up with. This is also about creating as varied a diet as you can afford and are able.
You should also be taking into consideration what you are drinking, caffeine, alcohol, high sugar drinks, these will all impact your energy levels. The key to understanding if you are fueling your body in the right way is building awareness around how you feel, when do you start to feel lethargic? Is there a pattern with a particular food or drink?
There is a lot of different advice out there on what diets are the best to follow. These diets can miss an important factor, everyone is different, we all have different lives, different taste preferences, different histories, multiple different factors attributing to what we choose to eat and when we choose to eat it. I take a different approach, your body is your guide, it is a smart mechanism, it does actually know what it needs and when given the space, it will tell you. When you allow yourself to get more in tune with what is going on inside you, when you stop holding yourself to complicated expectations of what you should and should not be eating, you will start to notice something. You will feel more aware of your hunger and fullness cues, you will start to see your body will crave the foods it needs to function at its best. When you have changed from focusing on the external of what you think you should be doing and start focusing on the internal of what you body feels like, things change.
As a wellness coach it is not my duty to prescribe specific eating regimes, my role is always to simply help you gain more awareness around your habits and behaviours that attribute to your health. So, ask yourself, how much of your daily serves of fruits and veggies are you getting? Do you feel like you have a well-balanced diet? Sometimes we think we are eating well but when we sit down and really think about it, we realise that our diet is lacking the variety of vitamins and minerals it needs. Something I would like to point out here is, there is no need to guilt yourself around food, there is no need for shame, bringing these into combination with trying to improve your diet, will not get you far. In fact, it will only make you feel worse and impact your ability to make better food choices.
Giving your stomach the basic whole foods is what helps it thrive, when it is fed well, when it is getting all of its, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, your body is receiving the fuel it needs to look after itself. When it is getting food that compliment your digestion, rather than hinder it, your energy levels can improve. Is there variation in your diet? Are you getting around 20 different foods daily? Different foods have different benefits, keeping things varied keeps a good balance. Is there a new fruit or vegetable you’ve been wanting to try? Could you buy 1-3 new fresh foods at the supermarket next time to add something varied to your current diet? Are you consuming foods in their whole form? Remember the closer food is to its original state the more nutritional value it can provide.
The key to eating a more nutrient dense diet, is understanding how things make you feel and understanding what thought patterns and behaviours you have around food. You’re eating habits are just one contributing factor to what is going on with your energy levels. When you are making health changes, it is important to not change everything at once, it can get overwhelming and when the first boost of motivation wares off you can easily slip back into old patterns if it all feels too hard. Change one thing, then when it feels like it is more of a habit, start on the next thing. Long lasting behaviour change takes time.