The way your body functions and feels is based off of how you treat it and what you feed it. Eating to stay healthy and energetic is always a balance. You can easily get out of balance by eating irregularly and/or consuming too much or too little food. Not only will certain behaviors make you feel sluggish, certain foods can also derail your efforts to staying energetic and healthy.
1. Sugary Foods
According to Harvard Health Publications, when you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar shoots up. In response to that, your pancreas floods your bloodstream with insulin. This may give you a jolt of energy, but the effects are short-lived. The insulin rapidly lowers your blood sugar and you are left feeling lethargic and/or tired, also known as "the crash." Instead of consuming things like candies, pies, cookies and the like, eat meals and snacks that are balanced and contain whole foods. Consuming sweets in very small portions alongside a balanced meal will help reduce the likelihood of experiencing a "crash."
2. Fatty Foods
Whole dairy products, high-fat meats, pastries, pizza, and creamy gravies and sauces can make you feel weighed down after eating them. That's because these foods are high in fat. Fats are more difficult for the body to breakdown and require a more elaborate process than other nutrients. Because of this, your body sends more energy to the source of digestion, leaving you feeling zapped. Try finding lower fat versions of high-fat foods or consuming them in small portions alongside meals that are rich in fruits and vegetables.
3. Highly Processed Foods
Foods that have been highly processed typically have very little to no nutrition. Many packaged meals and snacks are made with refined flour, sugar, and large amounts of sodium to not only give them a highly palatable taste, but also to keep them on the shelves longer without spoiling. Highly processed foods may be cheap and taste pleasing, but the body does not gain anything important from them and in fact, when consumed regularly, these foods may lead to malnutrition and certain conditions like anemia, diarrhea, constipation and weight gain - all things that can slow anyone down. Instead of consuming these foods, make meals and snacks from whole foods, low-fat dairy, and fruits and vegetables.
Diet Tips to Avoid Feeling Sluggish
- Stay hydrated with water - Almost all systems in your body depend on water. Even if you are eating the best foods, if you're dehydrated, you are likely going to be sleepy or tired.
- Avoid high levels of caffeine - A cup of coffee or tea a day may help you boost alertness, but drinking multiple cups or consuming energy drinks can actually have the opposite effect later on in the day and possibly disrupt sleep.
- Don't cut out carbohydrates - Carbohydrates are what your body uses for energy. Eliminating these from your diet can reduce your stamina and make you feel foggy. Choose one to two portions of whole grains, fruit, low-fat dairy or starchy vegetables at each meal to keep your body fueled.
- Eat regularly - Eating on a regular schedule keeps your blood sugar levels steady, giving you the energy you need to get through the day. Skipping meals can leave you feeling weary and may lead to overeating later - which can cause sluggishness.
Mandy Seay is a bilingual registered and licensed dietitian who holds both a bachelor's degree in nutrition and in journalism. After gaining 30 pounds while living abroad, Mandy worked to lose the weight and regain her health. It was here that she discovered her passion for nutrition and went on to pursue a career as a dietitian. Mandy currently works as a nutrition consultant and freelance writer in Austin, Texas, where she specializes in diabetes, weight management and general and preventive nutrition. She recently published her first book, Your Best Health, a personalized program to losing weight and gaining a healthy lifestyle. Please visit Mandy's website at Nutritionistics.com.