Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Lately, I've been feeling really bogged down--as in, really tired. I spent all winter being tired, and now that the weather is warm and sunny, you'd think that my energy levels would have increased. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

While it could be a number of things causing my never-ending exhaustion (maybe that's just it, maybe I just need a break)--everything from emotional or mental stress to more physical ailments--it could just be the matter of not getting enough rest to dietary reasons. Now, for someone who considers herself fairly healthy--I already can't eat refined or processed flours or sugars due to health concerns, and I consider myself to be a very active person--it boggles my mind as to why I'm feeling so exhausted. But nobody's perfect, so we proceed to trial-and-error.

To help myself the best I can, I thought I'd start by getting a good night's rest (I slept ten hours last night, and it feels so good). I'm going to try and continue heading to bed a wee bit earlier than usual, so that I can get a solid night's rest. That said, it's also important that I lead up to my bedtime appropriately. Studies have shown that watching television or using a computer too close to bedtime can lead to restless sleep--so we're going to say goodnight to our PVRs and laptops an hour before bedtime instead of crashing on the couch while watching the last bit of not-even-our-favourite-TV-show.

The next steps I will take to (hopefully) increasing my energy levels will be watching what I eat. As mentioned, I already avoid refined and processed foods due to my own health concerns, but what about consuming more of the foods that will benefit me? I found a list of foods on Quality Health that are noted to help boost energy levels. While they're all foods I already eat, perhaps I need to try and include more of them in my everyday meal routine. What do you think?

Here are the 10 foods outlined by Quality Health that are known to help increase energy levels:

1. Whole grains
High in fibre and complex carbohydrates, whole grains contain antioxidants similar to those found in fruit and vegetables. Additionally, they reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Adults should aim to eat 6 to 11 servings of whole grains per day. Try cereal or oats for breakfast, bread with your lunch, and whole grain pasta or brown rice for dinner.

2. Oatmeal
A great source of fibre and a delicious breakfast option, oatmeal is as versatile as it is inexpensive. I prefer plain steel cut oats--they're a healthier option as opposed to the individual oatmeal packages loaded with sugar or even the plain quick-cook oats (the reason they're 'quick-cook' is because they're stripped of valuable nutrients--oats packed full of nutrients should take at least 15-20 minutes to cook).

3. Bananas
Packed with potassium, bananas--next to berries--have got to be my favourite fruit! In addition to being a part of a great post-workout snack, bananas are versatile. Add them to your breakfast cereal or oats, a smoothie, yogurt and granola, or in your favourite baked goods (um, banana bread, anyone?).

4. Orange Juice
Oranges are full of vitamin C, which helps you get the most iron out of other foods. Try a glass of OJ in the morning with breakfast, or grab an orange for a quick and pack-able snack.

5. Pasta
Pasta is high in complex carbohydrates and low in calories, fat and sodium. However, if you're like me, you'll turn to whole grain pastas--or my new fave, brown rice pasta--in place of white flour pasta. With a whole grain pasta, you'll not only obtain a greater amount of fiber and therefore stay full longer, but you won't have a burst of energy and later crash, as they call it, from the spike in sugars. Try a whole grain pasta salad with veggies, fresh herbs, lemon juice and olive oil--a favourite of mine!

6. Salmon
This fish is high in protein, and its high concentration of omega-3 fats and B vitamins can boost your cardiovascular health. As we near warmer weather, throw some salmon on the grill for a delicious summer treat! Toss a salad and serve with baked sweet potatoes, and voila, a complete and balanced meal!

7. Beans
Packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, beans can be used in creative ways. Add them to soups, burritos, pastas, and dip spreads. Plus, let's not forget how inexpensive beans are! Buy them dry and soak them overnight before cooking. You'll reap the benefits of beans at a minimum cost and avoid the extra sodium that canned beans contain.

8. Dried Fruit
These high-energy, low-fat snacks are easy to pack and almost never go bad. I like to carry a small baggy of dried fruit and raw nuts in my purse--it makes a great snack on the go! Try a medley of apricots, figs, and raisins. However, be aware that some commercially packaged dried fruits contain sulfur dioxide, which has been shown to increase your risk of asthma.

9. Almonds
Noted as the most nutrient-dense nut! Research has shown that adding 2-ounces of almonds to your daily diet increases your intake of vitamin E and magnesium. Plus, they're an easy snack to toss into your bag and go!

10. Yogurt
Quick, easy, and delicious, yogurt is available in a variety of flavours. That said, some yogurts contain a lot of unnecessary sugars. For a healthier option, purchase plain low-fat yogurt (or even better, try plain Greek yogurt) and add your own fruit mixture, nuts, and sweetener in the form of honey or agave nectar. This way, you can control the amount of sugar going into your yogurt, and into your body!

images via the kitchn, fitter than choc, sweet pea's kitchen, we heart it, and pinterest

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