Not quite firing on all cylinders? Eating on the run? Trying to cram too much into an already busy day? Our lifestyle tips and recipes will give your energy levels a boost before you hit the wall.
If you always wake feeling tired and reluctant to get out of bed you’re not alone. Every day pharmacies and health food stores serve women and men of all ages who describe the symptoms of fatigue. Complaints of muscle weakness, lethargy, feeling unmotivated and being unable to focus are common. So why are we so exhausted and what can we do to recharge our batteries?
Many people suffer from fatigue simply because they try to fit too much into their day. If you’re too busy to cook to nourish yourself adequately you’re not getting the fuel you need to sustain your body and mind.
In addition, work, relationships or finances could be causing you to feel stressed, or perhaps you’re simply not getting enough sleep.
Fatigue may also indicate you are low in iron or have a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
Try to reduce your fatigue by following the guidelines and recipes on these pages. If changing your diet, getting more rest and lowering your stress levels does not relieve your fatigue consult your doctor. Long-term fatigue may be a sign of a more serious medical condition or even depression.
STIMULANTS AND STRESSORS TO AVOID
Coffee may give you the kick-start you need to face the day but, like other stimulants, once the effect has worn off you usually need to have another one to “top up”.
Alcohol stimulates the nervous system, so if you are drinking every night you will wake feeling tired and unrested.
A cocktail of vitamins and minerals can also lead to feeling fatigued so consult your health practitioner about the supplements you are taking.
Avoid chocolates and sweet treats and remove any sugary, caffeinated energy drinks from your diet. While they may make you feel energised for a brief time when your blood sugar level rises, the low you feel afterwards is proportionate to the high.
Avoid eating raw foods, as your digestive system has to work harder to “cook” them.
Limit the amount of fat in your diet, especially saturated and trans fats.
Many people complain of feeling tired and sleepy after eating wheat products so note the amount of bread and baked products you consume.
Do you feel tired and bloated after eating foods containing yeast? A Candida albicans infection can cause this feeling so consult your doctor.
Avoid overeating and eating large meals, especially at night, which can slow you down as your body works to digest them when it is meant to be resting.
Limit your intake of canned, frozen and processed foods. Nourish your body with foods that are fresh and full of natural goodness.
Reduce your stress levels. Notice the people or situations that make you feel stressed or irritable and make a conscious effort to limit your exposure to them or avoid them entirely.
FATIGUE-FIGHTING FOODS AND ENERGY BOOSTERS
Don’t skip breakfast. Make sure you eat something healthy, however small.
Dehydration is a major cause of lethargy so drink plenty of water. However, if you are prone to fluid retention drink according to your thirst.
Cook at home using fresh ingredients. Instead of buying takeaway, set aside time to prepare meals and include lots of vegetables in your recipes. Eat plenty of fresh, local, in-season produce that is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Sit down to eat. Eating on the run means you don’t chew food properly, which compromises the digestive system because the first part of the digestive process, which occurs in the mouth, has not been properly completed.
Serve yourself and family members smaller portions. Overeating is a major cause of weight gain, which, in turn, means you have less energy.
Increase the amount of fibre in your diet. Fibre can slow carbohydrate metabolism and help you to avoid blood sugar highs and lows.
Sprouts are a great source of energy and nutrients. Try growing your own.
Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in omega-3 have lower levels of depression. Sources of omega-3 include oily fish (salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna and sardines), walnuts, linseed, soybeans and green leafy vegetables.
Consume plenty of complex carbohydrates, as your body can easily convert them to fuel for energy.
Snack on fruit and nuts. Often, people feel tired because they are hungry, so keep almonds, raisins, dates and a bowl of fresh fruit handy.
Increase your intake of iron-rich foods, including red meat and poultry but mainly fish, leafy greens, almonds, apricots, dates, kidney beans, brown rice and peas.
Vitamin C increases iron absorption, so stock up on sources of vitamin C, such as oranges, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries and grapefruit.
Eat foods rich in B-group vitamins as they increase metabolism, support the immune system and help to combat stress and depression. Good sources include potato, banana, chillies, kidney beans, tempeh, liver, turkey, tuna and molasses.
Favour pungent, astringent foods and spices, such as black pepper, turmeric, cloves, mustard seeds, cumin and fenugreek, that help to “dry up” any excess moisture in the body that may be making you feel sluggish.
Make time to exercise. Set your alarm, get out of bed early and go for a brisk walk outside, swim laps or go to the gym or a yoga class. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your energy levels.