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With more things to do than there are hours in a day, it is no wonder that planning balanced meals and snacks often lands between defrosting the freezer and fixing the broken tile in the bathroom on the priority list: it needs to be done, but it can wait another day.

Are you battling to bounce out of bed bright eyed and bushy tailed? Looking for more get-up-and-go to make it through the last few months of 2012? Although everybody knows that good nutrition and health should be top priority, very few of us ever seem to get around to it. This is why most good intentions get shelved for another week, another month, another year. Add to that limited knowledge and skill and it becomes virtually impossible to plan and follow a balanced and nutritious diet.

As a woman aka wife, partner, mother, worker, friend, sister (and the list goes on!) it is no wonder that we feel drained or exhausted. Because we are so busy and on-the-go, many of us ladies may fall into the trap of not eating at all for long stretches of the day, breaking for high sugar, high fat snacks and then ending off with a really large supper. Clearly, this isn’t the way to increase or sustain energy levels and will leave you feeling always tired. In fact, eating habits like this will make the effects of a hectic lifestyle worse by decreasing energy, decreasing mental engagement, increasing irritability, increasing weight gain and may impair the functioning of your immune system.

Whenever your energy engine is running on fumes, try the following 5 energy boosting strategies for some high-octane juice.

1. Graze so not to gorge. Aim to eat light and eat often. Eat 4-6 small meals per day. Spacing out your meals and snacks will help regulate your blood glucose levels and help sustain your energy levels throughout the day. You should also eat a nutritious snack in the afternoon to sustain yourself for the energy dip that typically occurs at that time. This will also help you to eat a lighter evening meal which may help you to sleep better and even lose some weight.

2. Manage your portions. Overeating can do more harm to your energy levels than you may realize. Your body has to work hard to store excess food, so your energy levels may crash immediately following a large meal. Keep snacks to 500-750 kilojoules (150 calories) and meals to 1200-2000 kilojoules (360 calories). Reading food labels when you have the opportunity will help you become a kilojoule guru.

3. Fast food doesn’t equal fast energy. Grabbing high fat, high sugar, refined foods made with low quality ingredients will increase your waistline, but not your energy levels. Most take away type meals are unbalanced as they lack adequate vegetables. In the category of Things Your Mother Was Right About All Along, you really and truly should eat your vegetables.

4. Rethink your drink. Drink water. What’s the only nutrient that has been shown to enhance performance for most activities? It’s not some pricey sports drink. It’s water. If your body is short on fluids, one of the first signs is flagging energy levels and possibly hungry with a headache too. Avoid drinking your kilojoules. Drinking kilojoules like the kind found in sugared cold drinks, fruit juices, flavoured coffees, iced teas, even flavoured waters and alcohol is the last thing you need when you’re trying to lose weight and increase energy. Caffeine and alcohol may feel as if they are giving you a quick “pick-me-up”, but in fact they can trigger fatigue by playing havoc with your blood sugar levels.

5. Jump start your day. Are your mornings a riot? The transition between hitting the snooze button on the alarm and walking out the door ready ‘n motivated is the very first hurdle of day. But you don’t dare walk out the door with an empty stomach and risk low energy levels by 11am. After all, breakfast is the battery to jumpstart your day. Visit for some grab-and-go morning meal ideas that are portable, filling and nutritious.

Something else to think about is the way that you breathe as breathing = oxygen = more energy. Sometimes the smallest things come with the biggest benefits. Breathing deeply is one of them. When ever you feel an energy slump, breathe in through your nostrils and fill your belly with air, hold your breath for a few seconds and then gently exhale. Try the 4-7-8 technique. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.

If these strategies don’t work and you’re consistently fatigued or rundown, consult your doctor. Sometimes fatigue is a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism or anemia. Unless you have an underlying illness, no pill or so-called energy booster you see on store shelves can put the spring back in your step. If you make certain lifestyle changes such as those mentioned above, you can go a long way toward improving your mood, energy, and overall health. Making changes may not seem easy when you’re already feeling overburdened and strapped for time, but the irony is that if you invest some time in adopting these simple strategies, you will likely wind up with more energy, a return that enables you to accomplish more in your day!

Eat For Energy
Celynn Erasmus Registered Dietician & Professional Speaker
Mobile: +27 83 656 3096

Born to Shine Magazine