We sat down with the lovely Rosie Millen, aka Miss Nutritionist, to chat about energy – and lack of it. She's a fully qualified nutritional therapist who specialises in energy and stress management, and is keen to spread the word about the connection between our diet and the way we think, feel and behave. (Side note: she's also the wonder woman behind Dynabites – the nutritious snack bars which are featured in The Baxter Box!).
So, if you ever find you're tired all the time, have energy slumps and are constantly reaching for pick-me-ups, this one's for you.
A huge amount of our energy control is to do with our blood sugar. Our bodies can only deal with one to two teaspoons of glucose in our blood at any one time. Every time we eat, the level of sugar in our blood rises, and this triggers the release of a hormone called insulin. Insulin’s role is to regulate blood sugar levels by taking the sugar out of our blood and into our cells.
As you can probably guess, the more sugary the food, the higher the blood sugar level rises. So let’s say you drank a bottle of Lucozade (which has 21 teaspoons of sugar...*gulp*), your blood sugar will shoot up. And the problem with rapidly rising sugar levels, is that they crash down at an equal speed. So the initial energy rush is followed by a slump, which is when we experience physical and mental symptoms like dizziness, faintness, headaches, nausea, blurred vision, sweating, palpitations, cravings and irritability. This happens about an hour after the sugary or refined food has been eaten – and it can also happen when we skip meals.
Our usual response is "OH MY GOD FEED ME MORE" and we find ourselves reaching for more sweet foods or stimulants such as tea, coffee and chocolate to boost energy levels...which is one vicious little rollercoaster.
Rosie tells us you'll probably experience some of the following...
Get tired & irritable / feel stressed / crave sugar and sweet foods, coffee, chocolate, tea, and cigarettes / yawn a lot / have mood swings / can't go long without eating / gain weight / become less productive at work / poor concentration and memory / trouble sleeping / weakness and fainting.
And now it's time for the good news – you can be buzzing with energy naturally by following these ten gems.
Eat little and often, avoid large meals and never skip meals! Aim for 3 meals and 1-2 snacks.
Eat protein at every meal and snack – especially breakfast.
Eat low sugar (low GI) foods such as wholegrains, rather than refined foods such as white bread, cakes, and biscuits etc.
Eat fresh vegetables at least twice a day.
Eat fresh fruit too, but not all day.
Reduce or avoid cigarettes, coffee and tea, and drink plenty of water.
Eat slowly, not quickly.
Avoid all processed veg fat (trans fats) and fried food.
Exercise for 30 mins each day (brisk walking counts!).
Take effective supplements.