Healthy Tips to Keep You Energized
By Kim Bentley
DTR, ACSM/PAPHS, Banner Desert Medical Center
Would you like to start on a path to healthy eating and achieving wellness in your life? Make these tips a part of your daily routine. Remember, if you don’t make time now for a healthy lifestyle, you will make time for illness later in life.
Tip #1 – Sleep Better
Getting good quality sound sleep from seven to nine hours nightly is crucial for overall good health. When you are sleep deprived you will tend to reach for foods that you believe will boost your energy; such as caffeine, sweets and energy drinks. Not only will you consume unhealthy choices, you will consume them in larger quantities and more frequently during the day to continue to “perk up.”
Instead, space foods that contain healthy carbohydrates throughout the day, such as whole grain cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit and whole grain crackers. If you choose to have caffeine, choose coffee or tea in moderation only – no more than three cups per day – spaced throughout the day. Energy drinks? Save your money and don’t even go there.
Tip #2 – Get Moving
Your eating plan improves when your physical actively increases. When you are moving you feel better overall, helping to reduce your stress which leads to better choices in nutrition.
When the days are shorter, make a plan to get out in the fresh air on your lunch break and walk. The weather is great – and it will make your work day more productive as well. On your days off, be sure to connect with nature. An East Valley gem is the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert. From the Superstition Mountains to your own neighborhood park – whichever you choose – just get out and have fun.
Tip #3 – Kiss Artificial Sweeteners Good-bye
Think about it – Americans started with one artificial sweetener in the 1960s and my how our girth has grown. As a society we are more overweight and obese, yet we have more choices in sugar substitutes. Pink packets, yellow packets, blue packets – as a whole it is simply not working.
Want to sweeten your coffee or tea? Try having a little bit of the real thing, like one teaspoon of sugar in the raw, or a little honey. Prior to all these substitutes, people were eating the real thing, just less of it. Instead of regular soda or diet soda, try iced tea. You can get antioxidants from the tea, and no artificial anything.
Tip #4 – Think Nutrient–Dense Foods
Is your food choice giving you any bang for your nutritional buck? The purpose of food is to provide the body with energy to fuel you through the day. A simple question to ask yourself: is the food nutrient-dense or calorie-dense?
If it is high in nutrition – good carbohydrates, healthy fats or protein, vitamins and minerals – the answer is: eat it. A good example would be choosing a banana over a 100 calorie snack pack of cookies. Both yield the same amount of calories, but the banana offers you potassium, magnesium, fiber and vitamin A. The cookies only offer quick satisfaction, and you will soon be hungry again.
Tip #5 – Look for the Usual Suspects:
Worried about high-fructose corn syrup? Well, the jury is still out on that. All added sugar is added calories, and the only way to know if a product has added sugar is to read the ingredient listing. Look for words such as: high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, fructose, honey and corn syrup. Then make up your own mind if the product is worth consuming or not.
Manufacturers have improved the amount of trans fats in products, but you will still need to use the food label to see how many grams of trans fats per serving are supplied. You want to have less than one gram per day. Frankly, zero is the way to go.