Thursday, 27 March 2014

Eating for energy

Today, I am SO tired, I just might cry. As I write this I'm sitting, in my pj's, having just cleared up breakfast. I haven't showered yet. My right eye is slightly swollen and dry and I have no idea why (and can't get to the doctors to find out). I'm feeling slightly guilty that my 4-year-old is in front of CBeebies whilst my baby is sleeping and also irritated about all the things I need to sort out and just don't have the time to. I'm already thinking of making coffee number two to get through the morning. It's very likely I'll have another few of those to get through the day. And a few sweet treats or so. And crisps later. And wine.
I know this caffeine/sugar/snacking diet isn't doing me any favours. But either is the fact that I haven't had a whole night's sleep for about nine months or rarely had more than two hours to myself since my baby was born. (In fact, I had two solid hours once because an old neighbour booked me a hair appointment as a surprise (BEST surprise ever) and I get the odd hour every now and again when  my lovely mum-in-law whisks both kids off to the library so I can sleep/tidy-up/do some work). Sometimes it is SO hard. And I'll admit, I'm feeling it.
So what to do? Well, aside from trying to get out of the house at every given opportunity (just a walk in the fresh air with the kiddies in tow is massively uplifting) I'm trying to re-think my diet. I really think that switching sugary snacks for healthier ones, ditching the huge rounds of toast at breakfast and constant caffeine hits has to help with my energy levels. And actually, if it even makes a minute difference, that will be something! So I enlisted the help of a proper nutritional therapist, Eve Kalinik (read more about her here www.evekalinik.com) to give me some tips I can really use. (I've already started switching afternoon coffees for smoothies - and Pret have some fab new green smoothies). If there's something that works for you, let me know too.

1. Start the day with a balanced and nutrient dense breakfast. It needn't be laborious; a smoothie is super quick for busy mums and kids love them. Just make sure that they're not heavily fruit based. And one cup of good quality fresh coffee in the morning is fine - just make sure you're having organic beans to avoid high levels of pesticides and not processed instant versions.
2. Swap mid morning or afternoon coffees for a green juice. We often reach for quick fire stimulants like coffee because they give a rapid boost in energy. The problem is that this spike in cortisol is followed by a sudden crash leaving us feeling even more depleted. This spiking also affects insulin levels and can in turn promote fat storage particularly around the middle abdominal area.  The best and easy swap is to have a green juice instead. I love PLENISH sweet sexy greens (plenishcleanse.com) as it has all of the plant based goodness from greens including a wealth of nutrients such as magnesium, folate and iron.
3. Make an energy packed lunch.
Simple things like a quinoa salad is great and if you make double the amount it's extra time saving. Quinoa takes 10 minutes to prepare and has all of the nine essential amino acids so is considered an excellent plant based protein source.  Mix with some sliced avocado, a handful of rocket, a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and dress with some lemon juice and olive oil for a nutrient dense, energy boosting and most importantly deliciously easy quick option. Fast food super-food style!
4. Opt for healthier snacks when you're out and about.
Lots of coffee shops are starting to have natural nuts which is always a good option. And raw chocolate that is high in its cacao content is a better choice than the usual cakes and cookies. The point is though that if you are following a healthy diet most of the time then the odd treat isn’t going to hurt, just don’t make it a regular thing. 
5. Eat three meals a day.
Constant cups of coffee and that glass of bedtime wine are often a result of grabbing quick fix options on the go and/or skipping meals so its important to make sure to have three balanced meals a day. Making sure to combine protein and carbohydrate with each meal is fundamental to this, which for example means salmon with broccoli or as above a quinoa salad with some delicious veggies. This helps to balance blood sugar levels and leaves you less susceptible to the willy charms of the Italian Roast and Pinot Grigio.