Archive for March, 2012

7 Steps to Increase Your Energy

woman on a yoga mat

Recently, I gave a talk to a lovely group of ladies in Greenwich about eating for energy. Once again I was struck by the comments that I was hearing about how many of us are just going through the motions but not feeling vibrant, alive or joyful because we are just so exhausted!

Aside from people coming to me because they want to lose weight or eat properly as they train for a marathon or other sports event, the most common complaint I hear is how people are fundamentally exhausted and don’t know why! Here are some comments that I have heard in my practice:

” I am tired and exhausted and collapse at the end of the day and don’t know why because I think I eat a fairly healthy diet.”

“I have to have a glass of wine at the end of the day to wind down and look forward to it all day!”

I am so tired by mid afternoon that I lash out at my kids.”

“I nibble at the kids’ dinners while I am making it and cleaning up. I know it’s not good for me to eat chicken nuggets but I am just so tired and can’t help myself.”

“I am so tired that after I m literally catatonic and just zone out watching tv. My poor husband!”

“I go to bed before 10 pm but still wake up feeling exhausted. I just have to have a cup of coffee before I am even civil!”

If we are living in a balanced way, this should not be our reality. We should go through our day excited and vibrant, sleep well, not need a glass of wine to wind down, and wake up refreshed and not in need of coffee. While many of us are feeling the burn out due to the unnatural demands we are placing on ourselves, there are many steps you can take to begin feeding yourself better to bolster your energy, well-being and health!

Step 1: Reduce/eliminate your intake of caffeine

Too much caffeine can lead to dehydration, blood sugar fluctuations, mood swings, heart palpitations, and insomnia as well as inhibiting calcium and other vital mineral absorption.

  • Suggestion: Try to gradually cut out caffeine altogether, but if have to have your coffee in the morning then limit it to 1-2 cups.

Step 2: Reduce/eliminate your sugar intake

Sugar addiction can create a spiral effect that will cause you to have mood swings, crave carbohydrates and sugar-laden foods, reach for caffeine to give you a boost and overall make bad food choices.

  • Suggestion: If you must use sweeteners then choose agave nectar, stevia, maple syrup, raw honey and brown rice syrup; for those who have sweet cravings add full fat Greek yogurt, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets or a bit of 70% dark chocolate to diet.

Step 3: Decrease/eliminate gluten from your diet

Gluten consumption can lead to bloating, dark circles under the eyes and exhaustion.

  • Suggestion: substitute gluten-free pasta for regular pasta, gluten-free bread and tortillas for regular bread and try to avoid eating gluten for a week and see how you feel!

Step 4: Decrease/eliminate dairy from your diet Similar to gluten, many people have dairy sensitivities and don’t even know it!

  • Suggestion: Subsitute dairy-free cheeses (my fave is Daiya because it melts like real cheese!) and coconut or almond based yogurts (So Delicious is what I buy) for your regular cheeses and yogurts and put almond or coconut milk on your cereal and in your coffee instead of regular milk!

Step 5: Drink more water!

Most Americans are chronically dehydrated, which can lead to exhaustion, constipation and also to binge eating.

  • Suggestion: Have a cup of water with lemon upon waking and then fill up a large bottle with filtered water and drink it throughout the day. Aim to drink at least 3 liters of water per day. I know that sounds like a lot but your body and skin will thank you!

Step 6: Get your dark, leafy greens in!

Greens are not only full of vitamins, nutrients, live enzymes and antioxidants but they also help to improve circulation, purify the blood and strengthen the immune system.

  • Suggestion: Have one big salad per day, serve a grilled or sautéed green at another meal and, if you can. start to drink green juice or smoothies! This one change will make a big impact!

Step 7: Get rid of the relationships and activities that drain you

Ok, this is totally self explanatory! We all know people that leave us feeling mentally exhausted or badly about ourselves. What about all of those commitments you make- lunches, school meetings, dinners out with the husband, volunteering on this committee and that… just writing it makes me exhausted!

  • Suggestions: Take time to evaluate what activities you enjoy doing and what people make you happy to be around. What (or who) is making you feel stressed, feel badly about yourself, or is taking away from your life? Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with people and learn to say “no.”

Avocados: The Fruit of the Gods

avocado When many people think of an avocado, they think of it as a vegetable not a fruit.

Avocados, though, are in fact fruits and they are one of the most important foods that I suggest you add to your diet!

Not only are avocados rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, and the vitamins E and K but avocados are also high in the antioxidant glutathione, which helps slow aging and prevents debilitating diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
Many people are scared to add avocados to their diets because they think they are “fattening” and don’t want to gain weight but nothing could be further from the truth! The monounsaturated fat in avocados actually helps lower our LDL’s (low LDL’s and high HDL’s= heart health), metabolize carbohydrates and control insulin, and help our bodies feel satiated- all of which aid in weight loss! To read more about fats and weight loss, please read Fat Does Not Make You Fat.
Avocados are also wonderful for healthy skin and nails, vitamin absorption, the regulation of bodily function, brain development in vitro, infancy and beyond and for providing energy for the body.

In our house, I add avocados to salads, sandwiches, dressing, dips, soups and even smoothies! Believe it or not, avocados give a delicious taste to salad dressings and a smooth consistency to smoothies.

Here are a few of our family’s favorite recipes! The chocolate pudding, in particular, my kids gobble up!!!

Veggie BLT and A Sandwich
1    Tomato (I suggest heirloom or beefsteak)
1    Lettuce slice
1    Avocado
2    Slices “Fakin Bacon” (purchase at Whole Foods in dairy section)
2    7-grain slices (I used Manna bread for this picture)
Tofu or canola mayonnaise (Whole Foods)

Heat fakin bacon in skillet and add to bread along with sliced tomatoes, avocado and lettuce. Slather bread with mayonnaise, and enjoy!

chocolate pudding

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

2 Avocados
4 Tbsp raw cacoa powder
4 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tsp vanilla beans, powder or extract (alcohol free)
Almond or coconut milk (I prefer coconut if you have it!)
Optional: 2 tbsp Chocolate Sun Warrior Protein Powder, 1 tsp maca, 1 tsp greens powder

Add all of the ingredients except the almond milk in a cuisinart. Slowly add your milk providing just enough moisture to keep blending. I actually like my pudding thick so I add just as little as I can. For a pudding with a powerful nutritional punch, add protein powder, greens powder and maca to bump up it a level for a pre or post workout treat!

So easy to make and so nutritious!