By Sharon Heer
If you are feeling overly tired by the afternoon, it might be time to think about how the foods you eat are affecting your energy level. Constantly reaching for a cup of coffee or looking for a sugary snack every hour or two are signs that you may be choosing the wrong foods.
What you eat and drink, and the timing of those meals and snacks are important to consider. Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates and sugar, for example, will only give you a quick jolt of energy for an hour or two, whereas complex carbohydrates and balanced snacks will leave you feeling better for longer.
Here is a list of 7 foods that will give you lasting energy:
Rolled oats and steel cut oats are a whole grain along with wheat, rice, quinoa, and even popcorn. Whole grains are high in fibre which digest slowly in the body, allowing a constant supply of energy throughout the day. Whole grains contain important nutrients like iron, vitamin E, B vitamins, healthy fats, and antioxidants for good health. To eat more oats, have oatmeal for breakfast topped with fresh fruit and seeds. You can also use oats in baking recipes like cookies and muffins.
Lentils are high in protein and fibre while naturally low in sodium. Lentils are also a good source of folate and iron. They are available in different colours, shapes, and sizes, and easy to prepare in soups, stews, and curries making them a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets. Try making a red lentil curry or adding lentils to some of your favourite dishes like soups or quinoa salad.
While all nuts and seeds are nutrient dense, walnuts seem to really shine. They are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, a healthy fat and they contain a group of antioxidants called polyphenols which help to promote energy in the body. Try eating a handful of walnuts for a snack, or add them to your oatmeal at breakfast.
Blueberries are considered a superfood for good reason. They contain antioxidants and a wide range of nutrients that help nourish and protect body cells. They also have a sweet taste without any added sugars. Frozen blueberries are a convenient way to keep blueberries around all season. Add them to smoothies, your oatmeal, whole wheat pancakes, and muffins!
Avocados are a fruit that provide a great source of healthy fats and contain other nutrients such as fibre, folic acid, and vitamin E. Avocadoes are so rich and creamy making them a good base in smoothie recipes, sandwiches, and vegetable wraps.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes not only boost your body’s immune system but they also help your body absorb nutrients like iron and folate found in plant foods. Iron is essential to producing healthy red blood cells so they can carry oxygen to different cells in your body. Use citrus fruits to boost your iron absorption by adding oranges and grapefruit to your leafy green salad and sprinkling lime juice on your bean and lentil dishes!
Avoid drinks that are full of added sugar and caffeine such as energy drinks, sports drinks, and sugary lattes! Instead, keep it simple with water. Water plays a role in body cell hydration, metabolism, digestion, and so much more! Add fruits like crushed blueberries, lemons and limes in your water for a refreshing, flavourful taste.
For more information about the South Asian Health Institute and recipes visit www.fraserhealth.ca/SAHI.
Try our delicious Sehat Protein Pinni recipe
*full of whole grains like oats, chia seeds, and ground flaxseed.
1 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions: Combine all ingredients together and let it set in the fridge for ½ hour. Roll into small balls (about 1-inch size). Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Makes about 24 pinnis
Sharon is a Registered Dietitian currently working with the South Asian Health Institute, a Fraser Health program aiming to improve the overall health of the South Asian population. Sharon is passionate about helping others learn how to eat better and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.