Are you fed up with feeling tired all the time? The stresses and pressures of modern life have left many of us feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and with little time or energy to take care of ourselves. Now our bodies are beginning to pay the price.
1. Eat a nutrient-rich diet
The first step to boosting your energy is a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. Your body needs nutritious food as fuel to work efficiently. So that means filling up on lots of protein and whole grains, which take longer for your body to break down, ensuring you have a consistent dose of energy throughout the day. Eating protein (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, tofu, lentils, chickpeas, beans, nuts and seeds) is also a great way to stabilise blood sugar levels. Pair this with leafy greens and cut back on starchy carbs (white potatoes, white pasta, white rice and white bread) for a new, improved, energised you.
2. Don't fruit bomb your snack time
When we’re trying to be healthy, it’s easy to think that knocking back tons of fruit will do us a world of good. But while you need some naturally occurring sugar in your diet (as opposed to the dreaded ‘added sugar’, which is in EVERYTHING), fruit bombing yourself at snack time could actually make you more tired. This is because the older we get, the harder it is for our bodies to break down the fructose in fruit, which, if un-metabolised, stays in your system and slows it down, making you feel lethargic. To avoid this, pick one piece or serving of high water content fruit, like watermelon or blueberries. While on the ‘S’ subject, filling up on sugary treats when you’re tired isn’t doing you any favours. It’s just going to make your blood sugar shoot sky high, followed by an inevitable crash, which will leave you feeling worse than ever. Avoid it as much as possible, and your body (and sanity) will thank you!
3. Invest in superfoods
Your body uses the sugar, known as glucose, in the foods you eat for energy. Think of it as fuel that keeps your body moving throughout the day. Making healthy choices and investing in superfoods won’t just help you lose weight and keep it off, it’s vital for regulating blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar is going up and down like a yo-yo, you’ll know about it, as you’ll be feeling lousy, exhausted and emotional. Not good. Foods containing plant chemicals called flavonoids – and in particular quercetin have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, and consequently energy levels. Flavonoids are found in apricots, apples, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, cabbage, onions and tomatoes. Quercetin is in onions and green apples. They can also enhance the effect of vitamin C, one of the most important vitamins in managing stress. Lignans are antioxidants that help neutralise the free radicals produced when you’re under stress. Flax and sesame seeds contain the highest levels, but lignans are also found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, asparagus, apricots and strawberries.
4. Follow the sun
The body makes vitamin D from sunlight, and a lack of it can make you feel lethargic, sleepy and less motivated to exercise or make healthy food choices. The so-called ‘sunshine vitamin’ is vital for keeping energy levels high, and one of its many roles is to help your body manage sugar, maintaining insulin balance and reducing inflammation and pain, which is bound to make you feel a bit better in yourself. We need a minimum of 45 minutes outside every day (yes, really!) to get the ‘white light’ on our skins to boost melatonin levels and release a supply of the ‘happy hormone’. That can be walking, gardening, playing with the kids in the park, whatever it takes to get some sunlight on your body. The downside of getting older is that your body is less efficient at making vitamin D than in your younger years, so you might want to ask your GP about getting your levels tested to see whether you need to supplement.
5. Have a digital detox
When we’re feeling tired and drained, it’s harder to take proper care of ourselves. We tend to isolate ourselves from the things and people that make us feel good, we stay in more and become more insular, spending hours glued to the TV, our phones and tablets. But digitally disconnecting from the real world can actually make us feel worse and even more tired! So while you might not feel like leaving the comfort of your sofa and going out, it’s one of the easiest ways to boost your mood and feel energised. Ask yourself: Am I looking after my emotional health? Am I eating more junk food, drinking alcohol and not exercising? Am I spending excessive time online instead of seeing people? It is easy to reverse these lethargic sorts of behaviour and feel better. You just need to switch off the telly and put down the wine glass, phone and/or tablet. Only surround yourself with positive people. When you feel in control of whom you invite into your world, you feel less out of control with your body, mind and emotional health.