Do the demands of today’s hectic lifestyle have you feeling exhausted? Are you so tired that your tired is tired? If you are like me and just about every other American adult, you did a silent happy dance recently when you got to “fall back” into bed for that extra hour of sleep. It is well known that adequate sleep gives our minds and bodies the much needed rest and restoration they need, but did you know that certain foods actually help fight fatigue?
It’s true. Both how we eat and what we eat affects energy level. How we eat refers to our eating pattern. Eating three meals and one or two snacks a day meets the needs of most people. Consider one of my favorite quotes:
“Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first.” –Josh Billing.
You have heard it many times and it remains true: breakfast is the most important meal. Eating breakfast revs up your metabolism and robs lethargy of its hold on your day right from the start. Another tool in the fight against fatigue is “strategic snacking.” Energy level takes a dive when there are more than four to six hours between meals. Think of snacks as “gap snacks” to be eaten when large time gaps occur between meals. The best snacks include healthy foods that promote energy.
The good news is that energy-boosting foods are the same wholesome, delicious foods that health authorities have been recommending for years, such as high-fiber whole grains, dairy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. You don’t have to use all of the food groups in each meal or snack, but a combination of more than one food group is important to yield the best energy boost. The fiber found in the grains, nuts and produce is important in providing a slower release of blood sugar into the blood stream. Similarly, the protein found in the dairy and lean protein is digested more slowly and provides a sustained energy release. Building your meals and snacks around whole foods versus processed foods provides sustained energy and promotes long-term health.
Here are some fatigue-fighting breakfasts and snacks to get you started:
Fatigue fighting breakfasts:
- Oatmeal, Greek yogurt, walnuts and bananas
- Yogurt smoothie with low fat granola
- Whole grain toast with avocado hummus, egg and tomato – This avocado hummus recipe is delicious and makes a great sandwich spread or snack.
Fatigue fighting snacks:
- A mozzarella cheese stick and apple slices
- Yogurt, almonds, blueberries
- Overnight Greek and Grain Salad – This is a wonderful side dish that also makes a great snack (it is delicious and has grain, vegetables and protein-rich feta cheese to sustain your energy until your next meal).
I had the pleasure of sampling both recipes during a recent cooking demonstration. Give them a try and enjoy the added energy that eating well provides.
Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE
Kim Beavers is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator for University Health Care System in Augusta, Ga. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment, “Eating Well with Kim,” which airs on WRDW. To join the recipe club or view recipes, visit www.universityhealth.org/ewwk or watch the segments at www.wrdw.com/ewwk.