Eating for Energy

Tanya here! And I’m going to talk to you today about eating for energy. You see, the two things that I hear from people a lot that they struggle with is that they don’t have enough time and they don’t have enough energy.

While I can’t magically give you more time in the day— I certainly wish I had a couple extra hours myself!— I can talk to you about how to eat for energy so you can make the most out of the 24 hours that you do have.

Eating for energy is very much like building a good campfire.

Imagine that you’re with your family camping and you want to build a campfire so you can stay warm, roast some marshmallows, and maybe a couple of hot dogs.

What are you going to need in order to start that campfire? You’re going to need kindling and maybe some paper, things that burn easily and quickly just to get it going. Now once your fire has started, you’ll have a small little fire. Then you’re going to add, what? Bigger logs. Those bigger logs help keep that fire going, build it make it larger and stronger and of course, much warmer.

So having good stable energy means that you’re building a sustainable campfire through the right foods. An internal campfire, so to speak. Think of the kindling that I mentioned as the carbohydrates that we eat. Things like breads, pastas, the occasional cake or cookie, and other simple carbohydrates in our diet. They get our energy going. They get that fire started. Just like the kindling in the campfire.

However, if all we do is eat “kindling” our fire could go out very easily and very quickly. Or we’re going to be sitting there putting a lot of kindling, very frequently on that fire. You may have experienced this if you have a cookie some point in the day and then 30-45 minutes later you think, “I should probably go back to the office kitchen and get another one.” Right? Because that kindling just doesn’t burn for very long, and you’re craving and looking for more.

Now as I mentioned in order to build a sustainable campfire, you also need large logs. These logs help keep the fire going, build it, make it larger. These logs are like your proteins and healthy fats. Things like your meats and cheeses, nuts and seeds, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, avocados. Those kinds of foods are your proteins and healthy fats that keep your internal fire going and keep you satisfied and full longer.

Now the key to all this is having a good breakfast. Creating your good fire first thing in the morning. And as the saying goes, you should eat breakfast as a king or a queen and that still holds true. So think of switching up your cereal for a bowl of oatmeal with some nuts and seeds, maybe a pat of butter or some coconut oil. Get some healthy fat in there to keep you full. Or make a breakfast sandwich. Add some scrambled eggs and some cheese to that bagel instead of eating it plain or with cream cheese for example. With those proteins and healthy fats you’ll stay full longer and have started a good campfire for the day that you need to maintain.

Now, let’s go back to your family’s campfire that you got started. If you want to stay warm around that campfire for several hours, you’re going to have to maintain it, right? You’re still have to add some large logs, maybe a little bit of kindling here and there to keep it going. Same goes for your body’s campfire.

If you don’t eat anything for a long period of time, if you don’t maintain that internal campfire, It. Will. Go. Out.

And it’s really hard to get it started again. Some of the symptoms you might feel if your fire goes out, are symptoms of low blood sugar.

  • Hungry

  • Angry

  • Anxious

  • Nervous

  • Elevated heart rate

  • Poor focus

  • Low energy

When we let our fires go out, we will reach for ANYTHING to get them going again. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. This is when we start scrounging in our desk drawer “Do I have a piece of leftover Halloween candy in here? Anywhere?!” “What’s in the office kitchen that’s left over from yesterday’s lunch meeting that I can grab? A cookie? A brownie? Anything?!” We will reach for those kindling foods to get our campfire going again. Danger is, when we do, we tend to reach for more of those things. So the key is to keep your fire going. Be proactive. Eat before your fire goes out. If it goes out— it inevitably probably will on a busy day when you forget to reach for something or maybe have to skip lunch. Grab a couple of pretzels and then make sure you have a plan in place. That you have come cottage cheese, or yogurt stashed away somewhere or have a lunch that you’re going to grab next. Make sure you keep that campfire healthy and strong internally.

So keep your internal fire in mind today. Enjoy the occasional kindling cookie. But realize that is not going to give you a sustainable campfire to keep your energy up and going.

We want to hear from YOU! What ways have you found to help properly fuel your campfire? Share your comments below.