Do you find your energy level going up and down throughout the day? Before reaching for yet another cup of coffee or visiting the vending machine for something quick to make it feel easier to get through the day, consider these simple and healthy eating tips to help you stay energized.
Energy levels naturally go up and down over the course of the day; this is normal. After you have a meal or snack your body breaks food down into its smallest parts for digestion. This gives you quick energy and often a bit of extra energy that your body can store for use later, such as when you are sleeping at night. A little while after your body has used the energy from food you ate, your body will start to want more energy and you will likely start to feel hungry again. While it is normal for energy levels to go up and down during the day, big ups and downs in your energy level can often be helped with simple changes to food choices and eating patterns.
Most people need to eat more often than three meals per day to be able to focus at work or school, and stay energized for sports or other activities. Snacking or grazing is sometimes blamed as a cause of eating more than your body needs. In reality, eating more often during the day can prevent you from getting so hungry between meals that you are likely to overeat by the time the next meal time arrives. Spreading meals and snacks out during the day can help you feel more energized and help you stay mindful of your portion sizes at meals.
March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is all about unlocking the potential of food. Try out these five simple changes to the types and combinations of foods you eat to prevent big ups and downs in your energy level and keep you feeling energized all day:
Having food packed-up and with you allows you to listen to your body’s cues for hunger and respond to it. Think about the types of foods you enjoy snacking on and how you can make them easy to take on-the-go. Great choices include individual portions of yogurt, cut-up or whole pieces of fruit, or cut-up veggies with a small container of dip.
These foods are slow to digest and help keep you feeling satisfied for hours. While most people think of meat when they hear the word protein, it can come from many more foods including nuts and seeds (and their butters), legumes, eggs, and dairy foods. Paired with grains, fruit or veggies, protein foods help keep blood sugar levels steady. Tasty options include roasted chickpeas, nut mix or trail mix, and individual cheese portions.
Pass the Veggies (and Fruit)!
The message is loud and clear: vegetables and fruits are great for your health, but most people don’t get enough of them. By adding vegetables and fruits into each meal and snack you have you’re more likely to get into the habit of eating them often. If you’re having granola and yogurt, add some berries. If you’re having crackers with dip, add some sliced carrots or snap peas.
Switch it Up
How often do you buy the same foods because you know that you and your family like them? Keep things fun by challenging yourself to try foods that you may not have eaten before. A new fruit or vegetable (jicama, anyone?), a whole grain you’ve never heard of or a different variety of beans for your chili. If you have a picky eater in your house, remember that it can take many tries (up to 20!) for children to accept a new food.
Feeling lost when it comes to interpreting the new Canada’s Food Guide or planning and shopping for your family? You are not alone. There is so much inconsistent information shared online it can be hard to sort fact from fiction. Fortunately, Save-On-Foods makes it easier for you to get informed about your food choices by offering FREE Nutrition Tours led by Registered Dietitians. Join a regulated health professional and food expert to feel empowered about how to plan, shop and prepare foods for you and your family. Nutrition Tours are free for adult groups of 8 or more and for school and community groups.
Lindsay Van der Meer, RD.
Lindsay has been working as a Registered Dietitian in Prince George BC since 2006. She loves being a Nutrition Tour Leader because it’s such a fun and interactive way to help people feel more empowered about their food choices.
Lindsay specializes in plant-based eating and sports nutrition, in addition to working as a Clinical Dietitian. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the great trail system and parks in the Prince George area with her husband, daughter and dog.