As a health coach, I work with lots of busy moms–and most of them complain of feeling exhausted. While getting more and higher quality sleep is vital to feeling good during the day, there is a lot you can do with what and how you eat to give yourself more energy. Here are the tips that my clients tell me have been most helpful.
1. Eliminate packages and containers (read: processed foods). Many of my mom clients have a habit of grabbing chips or crackers or whatever is convenient because they are often eating with one hand and holding a baby in the other. Unfortunately, I have seen again and again that the quickest way to deplete your energy and put on extra weight is by eating processed foods, which have low nutritional value and thus provide fewer energy and health benefits. Examples of little packages that you might think contain healthful foods:
- Small containers of fruited yogurts (lots of sugar)
- Granola bars (again—sugar overload)
- Whole grain crackers (processed grains and processed fats)
- Baked chips (empty carbs and processed oils)
Instead of snacks that come in plastic packages, opt for whole foods. Think of this as food that existed 100 years ago. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, or sprouted breads, and proteins all count as whole foods in my book! I will opt for an apple with almond butter, a carrot with some dip (here are my favorite healthful dips), green peppers with peanut butter, nuts and raisins, hard boiled eggs, raw milk cheese, a handful of toasted seeds, or soaked and dehydrated nuts. These foods make great snacks and will hold you over when you don’t have healthy leftovers or haven’t prepared a meal. Which brings me to my next tip….
- Be Prepared. As a child I was a good little Girl Scout, and my favorite motto was BE PREPARED! In many ways I haven’t changed! I always advise my clients to think ahead when it comes to food, and this is particularly true for my clients who are mothers of young children. Aim to keep plenty of fresh food in your refrigerator, and a pantry full of staples for throwing together a quick meal. Because I am super busy with my business, I have very little time for cooking. I make sure that I go to the farmers’ market at least once a week, and I keep my fridge stocked with whatever seasonal vegetables and fruits are available. For example, right now it is fall on the East Coast, and I have kale, spinach, lettuce, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, peppers, onions, garlic, and celery. I also have various fresh apples and I always keep lemons year round in my fridge. For protein, I always have eggs, and at the moment I have a fresh chicken breast and some raw milk cheese in the fridge. My pantry includes whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and millet, and various dried beans. I also always keep on hand some dried fruit like currents, raisins, and dates, and a few frozen bananas and berries for smoothies. For fats, I always have olive oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, and coconut oil on hand. I can make a salad, soup, green drink, smoothie green or fruity, or a more traditional meal if I like with these essential ingredients. I often plan my evening meal the night before or in the morning so I don’t finish work at the end of the day and then wonder what I am doing for dinner. With practice and planning, eating healthy at home doesn’t have to be time consuming, and one of the benefits is lots of energy to sustain me throughout my busy day.
- Eat seasonally. Eating food that is in season is important for digestion and maximizing nutrients, which translates to enjoying most energy and health from your food. The local food movement has grown, and for good reason! Food tastes better when it’s grown closer to home and it doesn’t lose as many nutrients due to shipping distances. Food also regulates your internal environment, and this affects how you adjust to your external environment. Most of us get a sense of this when we crave soups on a cold day. Certain foods like raw salads are cooling to the body, so when it’s hot outside those foods make sense, but if you eat too many raw vegetables in the winter, you may find yourself cold and uncomfortable and unable to adjust to the change in the temperature. The easiest way to start to do this is by shopping at your local farmers markets and taking notice of the foods that are in season. Maia teases me because I am a real stickler about this–I only eat fresh tomatoes in the summer, and I never eat asparagus except in the spring! Make every bite count nutritionally, and you will have more energy than you can expend!
- Detox every day. This is my favorite tip, and I do it every day. Whatever time you finish eating at night, don’t eat for at least 12 to 14 hours after this. In the evening, your digestive fire is not as strong, so after 8:00 p.m. in the evening is starts cooling down even more. I try to finish my eating by 8:00 p.m. and then I don’t eat until at least 8:00 a.m. the next morning. And as soon as I awaken, I drink warm lemon water to flush my system even more. Your body will detox naturally while you sleep, and then you’ll do further flushing in the morning (even if you opt for plain water). If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, squeeze in the water first! On evenings when I dine later, I wait even longer to “break my fast” in the morning.
- Breathe and tap into your feminine power and energy. Rachael Groover, author of Powerful and Feminine, tells us women to be “in” our bodies. I know as a busy entrepreneur I spend a lot of time in my head! When I forget to drop into my body when I eat, I don’t chew my food, breathe, or really taste my food. This can affect my weight (I eat more than I need to) and my energy (I am not chewing and maximizing the nutrients). Groover says that we all have a distinct masculine essence and a distinct feminine essence within us, and the balance varies from person to person. When we are moving from our more masculine essence, we are activating our upper body and gestures are harder and more rigid. When we move from our feminine essence we send attention to the center point of your pelvis, your “womb space,” and down your legs, and activate the energy in your hips and breathe into your belly. This will bring your energy into your body and you become more present to the moment. As you breathe, relax and soften the top part of your body. If you want to learn more about Rachel and her work, go to FeminineMeditations.com or www.theyinproject.com.