By Kristen Bell, Registered Dietitian
Sports Dietitian for Red Bull North America
Avoid it as much as possible. Consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, can alter your mood, aid in unwanted fat tissue, and cause energy crashes within 30 minutes of consuming. If you cannot seem to resist that sugar craving, cut the portion in half and combine them with fiber and a few ounces of protein to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Most fruits naturally have both the sweetness and the fiber, which would be a better alternative when having a sweet craving. To decrease cravings, try brushing your teeth right after a meal or chew on a mint leaf or gum to change the flavor in your mouth.
I am sorry, but caffeine is the big lie. Do not hate me. It is simply the laws of physics. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Caffeine follows this law. Initially you will see a kick of energy from caffeine, but everyone pays the price later in terms of tiredness, insomnia, or irritability. If you feel you just cannot give it up, start with cutting the coffee with ½ decaf and wean yourself from there. Eliminate any caffeine after lunch time to help get your body in a regular routine of quality sleep. If you can get a good night’s rest, then you will not need the caffeine to keep you awake the next day. The cycle repeats, so now it is up to you with which cycle you want to choose.
Processed foods are much of the foods that you find in the middle aisles of grocery stores, contained in a box or bag such as chips, cookies, candies, breads, and crackers just to name a few. These foods have so many ingredients, chemicals and preservatives. You can only imagine how they can bog us down over time when our body struggles to fully break them down. These foods line our intestines and prevent our body to absorb the rich nutrients that we need in whole, organic foods. Our bodies were not meant to have these types of foods in our system, but due to the excess of these items in the American diet, they are all around us and challenging to avoid. The more live foods you eat like fruits and vegetables, the more alive you will feel. Try to stick with healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and good fats such as found in salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, and olive oil to have consistent energy all day long.
This is an often overlooked cause of fatigue. When you do not get enough water, blood flow to your organs, including your brain, is slowed down making you tired. At a minimum, be sure to drink enough water to replace what you lose through your daily activities. It is also important to note that caffeinated drinks will make your body shed water so you may need to drink more if you drink a lot of caffeine. Start with drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weight 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water a day.
Life is stressful by definition, but for many of us, we make it worse by overfilling our schedules. Instead, stop trying to do it all. Put your health as your top priority, because if you cannot take care of YOU, you cannot take care of your loved ones either. Prioritize exercise and clean eating. Figure out what is most important to you. Cut out the rest, trim your schedule and learn to say no. Try to meditate 1-2 times a day for 10 minutes…this will make a huge difference in your stress levels. Follow along to a free app if you are not sure where to start. If you are tired in the middle of the day, avoid eating bad foods that will temporarily make you feel better but will have negative long term effects. Instead, a meditation nap is a great way to rejuvenate your energy. Another thing to elevate your happiness and decrease stress is to practice gratitude and be mindful of keeping your internal voice focused on the glass being half full. That includes magnifying what your body is capable of, instead of negative self-talk of what you feel you are lacking.