We don’t realize it sometimes but certain food patterns can have a large impact on your energy levels. I discussed what to incorporate into your diet to have better energy and more focus. In this post I will discuss the items and behaviors you need to avoid so that you are able to detox your body from these food item’s toxins.
Things not to do:
1. Do not skip breakfast. Make breakfast an obligation not a choice. Even a small meal will do the job. You do not want to start off your day with no fuel after your 8 hour fast/sleep. Have a small sandwich or some cereal with milk and a piece of fruit and that could be sufficient to get you enough energy till your mid day snack.
If you do not have breakfast, your body is still under the impression you are sleeping so your brain won’t work as efficiently as someone who has had breakfast.
2. Do not have meals high in calories (which are low in water content). Have several meals distributed throughout the day so that you don’t binge eat when you finally sit down to eat. When you eat a meal that is very high in calories, your body’s energy is focused on digesting the meal rather than on boosting your brain power.
Things to do:
Make sure your meal has at least 4 of the 5 food groups. Each food group has its function in our body. Carbohydrates are fuel for our brain and muscles, protein is composed of amino acids that are essential for the synthesis of certain hormones and neurotransmitters as are fats. Of course fruits and vegetables contain fiber and are rich in nutrients that are needed for cell functioning.
The 5 Food items to avoid:
1. Limit food items high in sugar & fats. When these two items are in excess they will be stored as fat. These items will also make your brain sluggish with a slower response time. Things to pay attention to
- White bread and other sources of refined flour
Too much sugar will cause a sharp rise in insulin (among other things, this hormone brings blood sugar down), then a sharp decrease in sugar in your blood. Your brain does not like sudden changes, especially that it primarily feeds off the sugar in you blood. This will cause a feeling of fatigue and most times sugar cravings which causes you to eat more sugar, and the cycle goes on.
You especially do not want to have these items at breakfast! Mankoushe, croissant, donuts, should not be on your daily breakfast menu.
- Luncheon meat high in fat and sodium (smoked meats, hot dogs..).
- Fried..anything. Again luncheon meat and fried items are hard to digest stripping you away from needed energy elsewhere in your body.
- Foods that will have the same effect: chocolate bars, candy, cookies…(when overeaten)
2. Soft drinks
- Liquid will give less of the ‘full’ feeling than solid food will (when both have the same calories).
- Net composition = Sugar, colorants & phosphoric acid which removes calcium from bones increasing risk of osteoporosis.
- ONLY 2 cans of soft drinks (including diet soft drinks!) will increase YOUR risk of fatty liver (Abid et al., 2009). This means your liver won’t be able to work properly increasing your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), may increase your waist size which increase risk of the metabolic syndrome.
3. Food items with too many additives
Additives are put in food to extend shelf-life, preserve taste and flavor
- These foods are usually stripped of their nutritive value by removing the water in food to extend shelf-life
- Full of sugar & fats
- Some additives are detrimental for our health. For example, nitrates and nitrates (give luncheon meat its pink color) are correlated with increased cancer risk.
4. Trans fats:
- Increase risk of heart diseases
- People with a higher amounts of trans fats in their blood had LOWER test scores compared with other people who did not have high amounts of trans fat in their blood
- In older age, people with a higher intake of trans fat experience SHRINKAGE in their brain size similar to the shrinkage that occurs in the neurological disorder ALZHEIMER’S Disease
- Found in baked ready to eat items (brownies, cakes, low quality chocolates) and fried food not home made.
5. Energy drinks
- Read my friend Loulwa’s post (a food technologist) on Energy drinks here.
- Choose food items from the sides of the supermarket (fresh produce) rather than the center aisles
- Choose food with few food ingredients on the label
- Choose food with an ingredients list that you recognize!
- Eat food that will eventually rot (low in preservatives)
- Choose WHOLE wheat bread you’ll get WHOLE benefits
- Drink Lots of water
- Take a 15 min walk when you can. You will clear your mind, pump blood through your body and get a different outlook.
- Some studies suggest that 50-80% of fatigue is caused by psychological factors so Take note of your feelings, why are you feeling this way, process through these feelings to clear your mind
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
Plan out your meals and dedicate some time towards preparing ‘to-go’ snacks so that you do not have to resort to the vending machine. Keep a granola bar at reach or maybe a small container of dried fruits and raw nuts in your bag. Mix in some plain cereal to decrease its calorie load. Remember this is a snack so no mindless eating allowed! Control your portions and drink lots of water.
The only true way to increase your energy levels is to detox. Stop introducing toxins to your body, give it an opportunity to remove the toxins you have by its natural process.
Exercise when you can, eat clean wholesome foods, have a great body and mind!