Do you slump in the midafternoon without your coffee or pass out on your couch in the evening after eating a handful of starchy comfort food?
Chances are, you ARE listening to your body, and your body is telling you that you need caffeine or sugar to fight fatigue.
You may find this post helpful in getting started using your snacks to help balance your energy levels and achieving a more graceful state of energetic being throughout your day.
I’ve been there, maybe you’ve been there, lots of us have been there: Wake up — dragging. Coffee. Skip Breakfast. Maybe eat lunch, maybe just coffee– but is rushed. Maybe gassy because under stress and not digesting. Mid-afternoon. Tired and nauseously hungry. Grab more coffee, sugar, starch, or all three. Get irritable right about the time getting out of work. Get home. Need to make dinner. Eat more carbs while making dinner. Finally eat dinner. Feel full, but still craving carbs a few hours later. Eat snack. Sleep– well or unwell — and wake up at 4 am having to pee, thirsty. Go back to sleep. Wake up — dragging.
As many people know, unstable blood sugar can be both an inconvenience — and, if it persists long enough, may lead to chronic disease. Today we will discuss how to schedule your eating throughout a day to improve your blood sugar and energy control.
1. As with all things — Begin with the End in Mind.
If you start your day spiking your blood sugar, it will crash low, increasing your desire for sugar (and maybe caffeine), and you are far more likely to end your day in a bag of starchy snacks. Choose a breakfast low in caffeine and high in protein and vegetables to reduce the sugar you eat in the first half of your day. Ensure you have protein to provide energy steadily even if you cannot find the time to prepare a meal high in fiber — a handful of nuts or a plain yogurt is a great starter breakfast if you are not a regular breakfast eater. If you aren’t very hungry, don’t push it — you’ll just create indigestion. Over time, and with less carb-eating at night and coffee intake in the morning, your morning hunger should improve.
2. If you are often nauseous and it resolves with eating, always have a snack with you.
Remember last week when we focused on the value of eating protein at every meal or snack? The best defense against eating sugar is a good offense of eating protein regularly. A snack bag of raw nuts and seeds, seaweed snacks and a piece of fruit, grass-fed meat or poultry jerky, or even canned seafood can travel with you at all times, just in case. Be mindful, though, if you have allergies, that the older the protein, the higher the histamine level, leading to stuffiness and itchy redness.
3. Eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day that can fit in two cupped hands or smaller.
Stay ahead of your hunger with plenty of protein and fiber. A simple way to always be prepared is to have some fresh fruit and nuts on hand in your car or office desk, if those are snacks that you enjoy. I’ve had patients that keep organic sugar-free peanut butter at work as crave-support. Used to drinking coffee all day and barely eating until evening? Recognize you’ll need to train your digestion and start sipping — bring 32 oz of protein/veggie/fruit smoothie and drink 8 oz servings every 2 hours. Store-bought smoothies can be helpful, but are often much higher in sugar than is necessary to make a delicious meal-in-a-cup. Make your own so you can guarantee freshness and adequate protein. If you wait too long until your blood sugar crashes, you will be more tempted to make less healthful choices.
So if eating constantly can help, why do you hear all this talk about the benefits of fasting? Consider that your body was built to fast, *but* it has to be retrained to do so with ease. There are many benefits to fasting– including helping the gut repair if it has been gassy and overwhelmed– but jumping into fasting without first finding balance in your daily energy levels is neither wise nor safe. Instead of fasting during the day, when energy is needed and it is harder to make good choices, fast overnight, as the body evolved to do. Avoid eating right before bed to improve your morning appetite for breakfast, and if you decide to experiment with fasting, start by fasting when the sun is down — you will have access to food if you require it, and can adequately hydrate, and will be sleeping for most of the time you are fasting — so this is the time you will have the greatest immediate benefit and the greatest ease. If you would like to learn more about how meal timing and spacing can re-train our hunger, this article discusses these topics with greater scientific detail. In short, if you don’t feed the body what it wants when it asks you to, it will start asking for different foods at different times in its best effort to accommodate your choices. Better than nothing — but you may not feel too great and you may find yourself attracted to less-than-healthful choices that will, over time, run you down.
So, in these two posts, we have started to consider simple solutions for eating your way to more stable energy. Though these recommendations are a great start, they are not complete with regard to food and they do not address exercise, sleep, and stress management, though they may help you have the stamina to tackle those areas of your life as well!
So enjoy your delicious healthy snacks with protein and fiber and leave comments below — What tips have you used that work well? What tips have you used that were a challenge? How can you use this info in your daily life?