Feeling tired lately? Find yourself pressing the snooze button early in the am or hitting a wall in the mid- the afternoon? It isn’t just how many hours a night you sleep that affects your energy levels. What you eat and drink can both have a large effect on your energy levels throughout the day.
Recently I was on The Social sharing four big strategies to choosing good food to fuel your day and keep you feeling energetic. Click on the image below to watch the clip!
1. Start your day with a balanced breakfast
Many people start their day with a bowl of cereal or an English muffin because they’re quick and easy, however an energizing breakfast should be more than just a blast of carbohydrates! First let’s figure out why breakfast is so important…
Overnight your body doesn’t get any food, of course, because you’re sleeping. Our metabolism (the way we process calories) slows slightly to correspond with the lack of calories. Breakfast is what kicks starts our body after hibernating all night.
In the morning, it’s key to eat within 1-2 hours to start your metabolism and provide yourself with some energy for the day. Calories, which we get from food, are actually energy. So, if you skip breakfast or wait hours before putting food in your body, you will probably feel tired and sluggish all morning.
Breakfast can be made up of all kinds of good and flavourful foods, it doesn’t have to be plain cereal or toast. The most important part is that the meal is balanced. Learn more about the different components of a balanced breakfast here.
Some Ideas for Balanced Breakfasts
- Breakfast Pizza: naan bread, pizza sauce, ham, pineapple, mozzarella
- Breakfast Quesadilla: Scrambled eggs, sliced avocado, spinach, shredded cheddar in a tortilla, folded and quickly pan-fried
- French Toast Panini: two slices French Toast stuffed with banana
- Monte Cristo: French toast sandwich with ham & cheese
- Omelet Toasties: Egg and vegetables in a bread cup
2. Build balanced meals
There are three main categories of macronutrients we need each meal in order for it to be balanced: carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
The only type of calories your body uses for energy efficiently and immediately is carbohydrates. The body turns this into simple sugar known as glucose, which can then be absorbed by our cells and used for energy. We can’t make immediate energy from protein and fat, but adding these to a meal helps to SLOW the absorption of carbohydrates to keep us full and stretch out that energy longer. And of course, they have other important functions in the body that we won’t get into in this article. So plan to include a carbohydrate, protein and fat in every meal- breakfast, lunch and dinner!
This salad recipe is a perfectly balanced meal for lunch of dinner: BBQ Mediterranean Orzo Salad. NOTE: we’ve adapted the recipe presented on The Social to make it low FODMAP.
Low FODMAP Recipe: Mediterranean Salad
Makes: 4 Servings
Time: 30 minutes prep, 15 minutes cook
3 cups cooked rice or quinoa
1 red bell peppers, quartered
1 large yellow zucchini, halved
Salt & pepper
1 cup baby spinach
100 g (about ½ cup) crumbled Feta cheese
2 tbsp sliced Kalamata olives
2-4 tbsp balsamic or Greek salad dressing
500 g chicken breast, cooked
Cook the chosen grain by following the directions on the package. Once cooked, rinse in cold water and set aside.
Rub peppers and zucchini in olive oil, salt and pepper and place on the BBQ grill and cook directly over the heat. Turn 1-2 times until cooked through (about 10-15 minutes). NOTE: you can also cook the chicken breast on the BBQ at the same time.
Remove vegetables from BBQ. Dice vegetables and chicken.
Toss orzo, vegetables, chicken, feta, olives and dressing.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
3. Avoid energy-zapping foods
Including good, whole, real foods in your daily diet is a great start to give you energy, but there are also certain foods that can actually steal that energy you may want to avoid!
You may have heard this before, but the caffeine in coffee actually is a stimulant. The effect? You get a false burst or energy (because you don’t have any calories to give you real energy), which can actually leave you exhausted. Plus, it may actually stimulate your bowels as well and for those of us with IBS-diarrhea – this is not a desired effect! So choose to avoid coffee or make sure you consume with a meal or other food, not on an empty stomach!
Processed, packaged and high sugar foods like sweet drinks, 100 calorie snack packs, muffins, and doughnuts are digested quickly giving you a big burst of sugar and energy! However, we use this energy up quickly and it then fades away, leaving you tired and craving more. For some great low FODMAP snack ideas, read the article Curbing the 3 pm Crash.
4. Practice proper hydration
FueLling up with fluid is just as important as food to keep you energized. Studies show that even mild hydration can affect mood, energy and a person’s ability to think clearly! It’s important to drink liquids even before that thirsty feeling kicks in, otherwise it can be too late! Thirst doesn’t appear until we are 1-2% dehydrated. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but dehydration is already affecting how our mind and body perform at this rate.
The recommendation? Get 8-10 cups of water each day and even more when you are active. The best indicator is your pee! Urine should be very pale yellow in colour. If it’s a dark yellow colour, that’s an indicator you should be increasing your fluid intake. All fluid counts like smoothies, juice, tea or coffee, but of course, water is the best choice.
If you are a little tired of plain water here is a delicious Fruity Tea Sangria Recipe that we have adapted to be low FODMAP. Remember if you’re using a different type of tea other than regular black tea, FODMAP content can differ based on whether it is steeped weak or strong. Check this article for more information about digestive teas and FODMAPs.
Low FODMAP Recipe: Fruity Tea Sangria
4 black tea bags
2 L boiling hot water
¼-½ cup white sugar or maple syrup or stevia
2 cups strawberries, washed and hulled
1 cup raspberries, washed
1 sliced navel orange
Handful of fresh mint
Steep tea bags in boiling water for 2-3 minutes (weakly steeped tea is still low FODMAP, letting it steep for longer may cause digestive distress). Remove tea bags and discard.
Add sugar or syrup and mix until dissolved. Let cool at room temperature (about 1 hour).
Add fruit. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.
Serve with ice.
Much love and good eating,
Stephanie and The Team