It’s certainly chilly in the Northern Hemisphere in February! How many of us are hiding our winter extra layer of insulation under extra layers of clothing? I know that for many years during the late winter months I certainly had a tendency to hide under woolly sweaters and hide indoors not going out so much. I was hiding both my over eating, justified to keep warm and lack of exercise, justified by its too cold to go out and do things! A few years ago I decided to make some real changes to that old story of mine and I now have lots more energy and I look good and feel great all year round! So, I have decided it’s time to start sharing how I Feel Absolutely FabulousTM with others.
Let’s start by looking at blood sugar levels and how important blood sugar stabilizing is for reducing and lessening feelings of stress and anxiety. As defined in the dictionary, blood sugar is the glucose in blood that rises and falls depending upon what we eat. Carbohydrates are the most common source of energy. All carbohydrates are ultimately converted to glucose to be used by the body as fuel for the brain and muscles.
Proteins and fat are vital building components for body tissue and cells. The body can actually obtain all the energy it needs from protein and fats, however it is advisable not to deplete the building blocks and therefore carbohydrates are necessary in our diets to supply on-going fuel or energy. I am going to look at a simplified approach and recommend fiber-rich foods and whole grains.
Dietary fibers are the indigestible portion of plant foods that move food through our digestive systems while absorbing water. It plays an important part in the process of digestion. Insoluble fiber passes through the digestive tract increasing bulk, shortening the time food moves through the body and softening the stool. Soluble fiber goes through a process of fermentation in the intestinal tract and has a host of health benefits most importantly that the absorption of nutrients is enhanced.
So foods that are high in carbohydrates and dietary fibers include:
- Whole grain breads
- Whole grain pastas
- Bran rice
These foods give us “fuel to burn”. However it is important that we do not eat too many carbohydrates as this can lead to weight gain. The Institute of Medicine recommends that Canadian and North American adults obtain between 40 to 65% of dietary energy from carbohydrates. A balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, fats, proteins and fiber is the perfect way to achieve optimum health. When we are feeling healthy and eating well the actual physical symptoms of stress and anxiety are lessened.
When we are feeling low on energy, for example we are feeling tired or fatigued we often crave sugar or caffeine. These substances allow a quick “pick me up” and we feel an instant surge of energy. Glucose production in the body is increased. Glucose is body fuel and an energy source in most organisms. Insulin reaction and other mechanisms regulate the concentration of glucose in the blood. Caffeine appears to release stored glucose into the blood stream and provides a boost of energy. It is both a central nervous system and metabolic stimulant. Sugar-cane in its natural form provides a source of vitamins and minerals, but refined sugar lacks nutrients. It does however provide a boost of energy. Instinctively we know that these substances will raise our energy (or sugar level) quickly.
So, what’s wrong with that? The problem is that this high concentration overloads the system causing the levels to swing up above normal giving us a lift. Hence the term “boost of energy”. Once the sugar or caffeine is used up then the sugar or energy levels in the body fall rapidly to way below normal. In addition, the body recognizes that the boost of energy is more than usual and goes through a series of chemical processes to bring the body back to balance. Then we feel even more tired and crave more sugar or caffeine. So we have another cup of coffee, glass of coke or sugary snack. Our energy swings up again and crashes down again, over and over. Riding on this chemical roller coaster leads to irritability, depression, anxiety, confusion and fatigue. Yes, the body actually becomes fatigued or tired from the swings up and down. So the long-term effect of using stimulants is increased tiredness. It actually becomes an addiction cycle! We are not nurturing and taking care of ourselves when we are in this pattern.
Ideally we all want a strong, steady level of energy all day long. Three moderately sized meals along with a couple of healthy snacks will maintain a constant level of energy in the body. The gentlest way to nourish our bodies is to give them high quality food as fuel on a regular basis so we do not cause unnecessary stress on the body. We want to avoid the swings up and down. This can be achieved by eating healthy food in healthy amounts. We need to avoid refined sugar and caffeine and instead eat whole foods that are digested slowly, thereby releasing energy into the body slowly, gradually and steadily. The following is a list of complex carbohydrates that are advised to be a high percentage of your daily diet, including meals and snacks:
These foods slowly release their energy into the body.
Next month I’ll give you some more tips on how you can change your diet to one that enhances your overall health, well being and energy levels.
In the meantime, if you are ready to start living the life you have always wanted I will help you get started on a personalized wellnessProgram. Consultations available in person or by phone. Begin the New Year as you mean to carry on and start taking care of yourself now! Email me at email@example.com for an appointment and let’s get started! Woohoo!!!