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We’ve all been there: waking in the morning with little to no energy.  Sure, sometimes you stayed up too late, etc. but if this happens to you on a regular basis, it may be more than just a few late nights that are bringing you down.  Maybe you’ve been feeling a little shaky or jittery even before your morning shot of caffeine?  We say take a look at what’s been on your plate (literally) lately.  Are you eating foods that support a healthy body and lifestyle or eating on the run, grabbing and going without much thought to what’s going in your mouth?  Take a minute to read and contemplate your food choices.

1.  Eat more iron.  Iron deficiency can really sap a person’s energy and make you feel tired all day—even after a good night’s sleep.  So, think about tracking what you’ve been eating with an eye to iron.  Have you been getting enough?  If not, consider adding more red meats, fish and poultry to your diet, some of the best sources of iron (animal-based).  If you don’t eat anything without leaves, you can still get your iron on naturally; try adding more soybeans, lentils, spinach and fortified cereals to your diet.  Tip: Adding a little vitamin C to your diet will help with iron absorbtion.

2.  Hungry for an afternoon snack? Put the cookies down!  Refined sugars may be making you jittery because they cause a sudden rise in blood sugar (enter the antsy, jittery feeling) and large amounts of insulin to be secreted by the pancreas.  Eventually, that extra insulin will make your blood sugar plummet, making you feel tired and/or lightheaded and sweaty, but especially—really hungry.  So, what do you do?  Go grab something to eat quickly and usually without thinking.  The best way to stave off the highs and lows left by foods high in refined sugars is to skip them and instead focus on eating snacks that have a balance of lean proteins, healthy fats and unrefined carbohydrates.  Some examples include, fruits, veggies, beans, whole wheat pastas and breads, brown rice, quinoa, etc.

3.  Feeling a little puffy around the middle?  Bloating is common but do you know what it is in your diet that’s causing it?  A few suspects: carbonated drinks (including soda and seltzer), certain vegetables (beans, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage) or even a lack of sleep.  To fight this particular bulge, try replacing your favorite soda or seltzer water with flat water and see what happens.  Not only should you see your bloat begin to dissipate but you may see some relief from constipation as well.  If your favorite veggies are causing the problem, try cutting the amounts you eat in half for a week and replace them with other fruits and vegetables.  Another good idea: probiotics.

4.  If you’re feeling a little forgetful, you might be slipping into the low zone on your levels of vitamin B-12 and Omega 3 fatty acids.  To add them into your diet and boost your levels, consider adding some Omega-3s into your meal plan with foods like salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna and herring, as well as some B-boosters like liver, yogurt, cheese, eggs, fortified cereals, salmon and trout, etc.  A vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause fatigue, confusion, and numbness, so load your plate and free your mind.

5.  Hopefully, working out and/or exercising regularly is a part of your everyday life.  If it is, you may be familiar with muscle cramps.  To cut those cramps, you need to add some potassium and magnesium to your meals.  Try potassium-rich foods like bananas, baked potatoes, prunes and orange juice.  Get nutty to soak up more magnesium—almonds and other nuts make great snacks on the go, or add them to your morning breakfast shake for a quick shot of protein (and magnesium).  Other sources include unrefined grains, spinach and bran flakes.

A well-planned and thoughtful meal should give your body all it needs to thrive, so spend a little time and pay attention to what goes onto your plate and into your mouth.  Studies show that eating lots of refined sugars makes you actually crave more refined sugars, so keep them to a minimum and try to fill your belly with natural sweets like fruits, if possible.  Don’t have time during your hectic work week to think about healthy breakfasts and lunches?  Luckily for you, we do.  Come see us at Brown Bag for well-rounded meals, meals that are balanced and full of healthy food that will get you through your day.  We put of lot of time and consideration into each of our menu selections, and we think you’ll find our brand of cuisine on the fly fits your busy work-week lifestyle, as well as your nutritional needs.  See you soon!