Eating for Energy: A Holistic Nutritionist’s Foolproof Guide

Integrative | Minute Read
Health, Nutrition, Recipes, Wellness

It can be difficult to eat healthfully during a long, busy work day, and it can be even more difficult to do so if you are working irregular hours and shift work. It takes a bit of planning ahead but it really doesn’t take much to get organized and reap the benefits of an energy boosting diet!

Tip #1 – Eat breakfast

Never, never, never skip breakfast. I don’t often say “never”, but I really have to on this. If your energy is low, the best thing to do is nourish yourself as quickly as you can. I’m sure you’ve always heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…and, yep, still is! The best way to start your day off full of energy is to make sure you are eating a nutritious breakfast (even if it’s small) within 45 minutes of waking. By doing this, we are giving our bodies an influx of nutrition, setting the stage for the rest of the day. Try my Breakfast Seed Bowl, which is full of good proteins and fats to keep you full and energized.

Breakfast Seed Bowl

Makes 1 Serving

  • 2 tbsp. Pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. Hemp hearts
  • 1 tbsp. Ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp. Chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened almond milk or plain yogurt
  • Handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Place all your seeds in a small bowl. Cover with water and soak for about 15 minutes. Drain off any remaining water. Add almond milk or yogurt to the bowl. Top with berries and enjoy.

Tip #2 – Eat often

I am a big believer in eating regularly throughout the day to keep energy levels up – try to have something to eat every 3-4 hours. This allows energy from food to be released slowly throughout the day and prevents blood sugar spikes and drops. You know that feeling around 3pm when you get really tired for no apparent reason, then start to crave caffeine, sugary drinks and chocolate? That’s low blood sugar!! This can be prevented by eating regularly throughout the day.

The key is to always be armed with a variety of healthy snacks! Keep a stash in your purse or your desk or in a fridge or little cooler, if that’s available to you. Some easy snack options include:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Single portion unsweetened applesauce containers + 1 tbsp. hemp hearts
  • Lara Bars
  • Slice cucumber and hummus
  • Fruit – apples and oranges travel well
  • Brown rice cakes and almond butter
  • Seaweed snacks
Tip #3 – Upgrade your carbs

Eat foods that contain slow releasing energy in the form of complex carbohydrates – whole grains and vegetables. This means replacing refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, white pasta, cookies, cakes, most crackers, etc) with better choices. Choose instead whole grain bread, whole wheat or brown rice pasta, brown rice, high fiber crackers and other grains like quinoa. Sweet potatoes and squash are also excellent choices.

Eliminating refined sugars is also key. Good choices for sweeteners include small amounts of stevia, local honey, coconut sugar and real maple syrup.

Coconut Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 Sweet potato or yam, cubed
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes with coconut oil and spices. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Bring for lunch with some baby spinach and leftover chicken breast.

Tip #4 – Cut back on coffee

I always cringe after I make this suggestion, waiting in anticipation for the response. Truthfully, I know I can’t always be popular. But really, indulging in copious amounts of coffee, black tea and energy drinks will only exacerbate our feelings of stress. Consuming caffeinated beverages may boost energy and alleviate stress in the short-term, but long-term wreak havoc on our blood sugar and our energy levels. I am not at all suggesting that you NEVER drink coffee again, because that wouldn’t be realistic for most people, would it? After that the first cup of the day though, try these other beverage alternatives:

  • Green Tea – the caffeine in green tea gently provides energy without interfering with our adrenals too much.
  • Yerba Mate Tea – has an effect much like green tea, gently providing energy.
  • Other teas – some of my favorites are rooibos, lemongrass, ginger, and peppermint.
  • San Pellegrino with lemon slices.