February 17, 2023
When you are feeling tired you can be particularly vulnerable to “just eating something to make you feel better right now”. If you went through chemotherapy the goal may have been to eat anything just to cope, and to make sure you were actually eating - depending on how your taste buds, sense of smell, digestion etc were affected.
Now that it’s time to focus on recovering. It’s also time to focus on having food be a healthy fuel for you. Your body needs loads of nutrients for all its healthy functions, and you will also want your energy levels to be stable.
To start with your energy levels possibly won’t be good, but low and stable energy levels will be better than unpredictable highs and lows of having spikes in blood sugar levels from eating (for example) high sugar low nutrient foods followed by a corresponding dip in energy (and potentially mood, stamina etc).
The aim is for stable energy levels, with these increasing along with your stamina (being able to increase your energy levels in a sustained way).
Depending on where you are at with your eating well journey you may already have noticed that what you eat affects you in a few ways.
I’m sure you have experienced over eating, eating rich fatty foods that you then felt awful after eating and these events are usually rare, avoidable and don’t affect you in an ongoing way.
What can make a bigger difference to your day-to-day experience is what you eat habitually, and how that affects you.
If I were to ask you what you shouldn’t eat you would most likely tell me:
Saturated fats (especially from animal sources)
Don’t eat too much salt
Keep sugar to a minimum
If I were to ask you what you should eat it I might get a varied response but it might include:
Non starchy vegetables
Good quality protein (i.e. oily fish)
Good quality fats (i.e. tablespoon seeds)
Your relationship with food may well be a complicated one. (If you would like to read more about your relationship with food in particular then Geneen Roth has written several books on this subject).
It’s easy to justify food choices that aren’t optimal or “treating ourselves”, especially when we are tired, emotional and rundown. The foods we choose to “treat ourselves” are usually high in refined carbohydrates, and possibly fat, with added sugar and/ or salt (donuts, chips, biscuits, slices….I’m sure you could add lots to this list!). I’m also sure that you have noticed (or will notice more after reading this) that despite feeling good temporarily when you eat the treat food, you will dip down much sooner than you would like to after eating these kinds of foods. These spikes in blood sugar levels and their following dips in energy can easily lead to yet another non-ideal food choice to perk yourself up, which then requires another “treat” later and so on.
Or perhaps you are focussing on eating well, doing “all the right things” and you still notice that your energy levels go up and down or you just don’t feel satisfied.
Of course, we do need to eat regularly to fuel our bodies, but there is a difference between feeling hungry and eating well at mealtimes and feeling low, dragging ourselves into the kitchen in search of a pick me up.
Food is our fuel, our biggest source of nutrients. A diet of nutrient dense water containing foods helps to fuel our bodies in a healthy way.
The biggest problem I see when it comes to eating well is making healthy choices in the moment of feeling low/ tired/ bored/ lonely/ angry/ moody…you get the idea. I’m sure you can add in your own trigger for a desire for comfort food. Comfort foods are typically high in sugar and or fat, and based on refined carbohydrates. These are also to foods we gravitate to when we need something quick if we are busy/ low in time.
The best way to make healthy smart choices about our food is to be aware and prepared.
There are 2 main things you can do with your diet to support your energy levels being more stable (and therefore feeling better and being able to make healthier choices with what you eat).
Start off the day with a good breakfast.
A good breakfast will be one that is rich in protein and soluble fibre, that has a low glycemic index, and that is loaded with nutrients. This way your blood sugar levels are less likely to spike (with the corresponding crash) and your energy is more likely to be stable for longer throughout the day.
My go to options for breakfasts that fit the above criteria are:
1. Vegetable Omelette
Use non-starchy vegetables such as mushrooms, onion, kale, broccoli, carrots etc lightly steamed and added to an omelette. Eggs are a good source of protein, with a glycemic index number of 0 and you will get soluble fibre from the vegetables.
2. Scrambled Eggs
If you want something a little faster in the morning than a vegetable omelette then another option is scrambled eggs on seed bread toast.
3. Chia Seed Bircher Muesli
If eggs are not your thing or you would like a much faster morning breakfast then you could try Chia Seed Bircher Muesli. I have been experimenting with adding different flavours (cinnamon, cocoa powder, chai mix) with the chia seeds when they start soaking and I have found they improve the flavour and overall enjoyment greatly.
My Chia Seed Bircher Muesli Recipe
2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
½ C Unsweetened Almond Milk
½ tsp Stevia powder
1 tsp flavouring (cinnamon, cocoa powder, Chai mix powder)
In the morning add fresh or defrosted berries and a tablespoon of coconut yoghurt or coconut cream.
Blueberries and Blackberries are my top picks for berries as they are high in antioxidants, contain fibre and eating them doesn’t lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. Blackberries and Blueberries aren’t on EWG’s top 10 Dirty Dozen Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce but I still prefer to get organic berries.
Almond Milk is my preferred choice as it has protein and is lower in calories than some other milks. The low glycemic index of almond milk also makes it a good choice to start the day off well.
Apple Cider Vinegar was mentioned in my article Eating Well - Where To Start as it is thought to support short-chain fatty acids and therefore beneficial bowel flora. Apple Cider Vinegar has also been shown in an animal study to support healthy blood sugar levels. Yet another reason to have 20mls in water each morning before breakfast.
The second part of eating well and having stable energy levels is being prepared.
Sometimes eating (especially unhealthy snacking) is more of an activity than a food.
When this is that case you have the ability to choose your healthiest option.
If you are in need of food then have healthy choices available - seeds are my favourite option, along with fruit. I have options for good snack choices in my article on savoury snacks.
It’s not just breakfast that is important, but it can have an effect on whether your blood sugar levels are a smooth train ride with little dips at meal times or a rollercoaster ride with all the ups and downs of energy and mood that go with it.
We need our food to be nutritive and nourishing - our food is the main source of nutrients that our body needs to function well. Start the day off well and it can help support your energy levels throughout the day, which helps you to make healthier choices with your eating, which will support your energy over time as you nourish yourself with nutritive food.
Going Against the Grain, by Melissa Diane Smith
October 06, 2023
I have found with the people that I help that using minerals gives us a strong foundation to work with.
On a personal level I am extremely grateful for the support of minerals!!
September 01, 2023
August 25, 2023
When you start to think in a downward spiral, or become distracted or focussing on negative “unwanted” thoughts - of the past, the present or the future you simply tell your brain “Useful Thoughts Only”
The trick is catching yourself in the act, but I suspect you may have a few (or even many) opportunities each day to practice this technique. The great thing is, even if you realise after quite a while that you have been riding the unhelpful thought train, you can stop at any time and tell yourself - USEFUL THOUGHTS ONLY.