Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Newbie Tips: Healthy Habits for Energy

After babysitting my four month old niece for the last few days I have had a bit of a wakeup call. I have always thought I would struggle with the lack of sleep having a baby brings but didn’t realise how quickly the lack of sleep would affect me. By only the third morning I was a wreck! I was tired, grumpy, reaching for all the wrong foods and could feel myself starting to get sick. As much as I loved having some quality time with my little niece it was a relief knowing I could hand her back that afternoon. How on earth am I going to cope when I can’t hand the baby back? When I can’t rely on my partner to look after her while I have a nap? When I actually have to do some housework and cook proper dinners? Or worse… have the energy to go to work!?

I have always been a good sleeper, needing at least 8-9 hours each night. Fatigue has always been my biggest struggle and when I was on my strict elimination diet last year this significantly improved but it was not a realistic long term way of eating. Since being off the diet I have found that eating wheat, dairy and sugar tend to cause me to feel sluggish and tired (I’m guessing because they are harder to digest).

As I am getting married at the end of the year a baby is definitely on the horizon and is something my partner and I are really looking forward to. So with less than 6 months to the wedding it’s time to make a serious commitment to not only my health, but my future babies! I think where I struggle is this all or nothing approach. But it doesn’t have to be so black and white… a lifestyle change needs to be realistic and manageable.

Here are some simple, easy to implement steps to nourishment I am going to commit to:

1.       Start the day right.

Many days the first thing I eat isn’t until 11 o’clock. I have never been a breakfast person (I have some bad gagging on cereal memories from when I was younger). But I realise that starting the day with zero fuel is leaving me running on empty. So as I am not very hungry in the mornings I like to start the day with lemon juice in warm water. Not only is it a nice little morning ritual to start your day but it has a tonne of health benefits and helps me warm up on these cold winter mornings.

I find the days I feel the best are the days I have a juice (and 2 juices leave me buzzing!!). I get a good dosage of nutrients without having to sit down to a meal… win – win!

2.       Ditch the wheat, dairy and artificial sugar until dinner time

As I said above this doesn’t need to be an all or nothing approach. I find dinners are the hardest to eat cleanly as most of my favourite dinners contain one or all of the above. I have found some alternatives to my favourite dishes and have really ‘’cleaned up’’ the way we eat but cutting wheat, dairy and sugar out is just too much for me right now. I find by adding as many vegetables and organic/healthy alternatives as possible I am crowding out most of the not so great stuff anyways. Leaving these foods until later in the day also means that any fatigue I may feel as a result won’t be as problematic as I can just go to bed! 

3.       Stay hydrated!

Water increases your energy level and will help to flush out any toxins. 

4.       Make some healthy alternative snacks

Being prepared and having your snacks prepped for the week ahead really helps to keep me on track. The weeks where I spend some time on Sundays getting myself ready for the work week are the weeks where I really stay on track. The weeks I have nothing prepared I reach for the nearest sugary snack or soft drink for the energy to get me through the day which really results in an energy slump an hour later. 

5.       Be prepared

When I lack energy I get lazy and unmotivated and end up reaching for 'cheap, fast and easy foods' which make me feel even worse. It's a vicious cycle! Again, I use my Sundays to plan and shop for the week ahead. I plan out each dinner and create a grocery list around this. This tends to stop any last minute trips to the shops or take away joints for an ‘easy meal’ and helps to reduce waste as we are only buying the food we need for the week. I would also like to start keeping a few yummy emergency meals in the freezer for those days when I just can’t be bothered to cook. This seems to be a bad habit on Thursdays where we are both tired and can’t be bothered cook and end up getting take away. Not only is this bad for our health but we are wasting money regularly on food we don’t need!
6.       Keep it clean!

You can’t be motivated and inspired to create wonderful, nutritious meals when your kitchen looks like a pig sty! Sometimes I take one look at my messy kitchen and say ‘’I can’t be bothered, lets get take away!” Staying organised and clean can help you to stay motivated. Cleaning my juicer before I even have a chance to drink my juice seems to be a good system for me. Obvious things like putting dirty utensils straight into an empty dishwasher can be great timesavers and will save you doing it when you are tired at the end of the day.

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