How to Eat for Energy - Step 2: Eat Real, Whole Foods
Last week we talked about the importance of eating regular meals and planned snacks in order to get out of the energy zapping cycle that you might currently find yourself in. Bringing mindful attention and awareness to our meals and snacks rather than reactively eating whatever is available to us is a really important first step in eating for energy.
Read about Step 1: Balancing your blood sugar here >>
In Step 2, I want to focus on exactly what types of foods you’ll want to prioritize in order to balance blood sugar and avoid the blood sugar roller coaster!
Watch my video below or read on to find out why eating real, whole foods is so important.
I think we can all agree that food doesn’t just go in one end and out the other without affecting us. Food gets broken down, absorbed into our bloodstream and then becomes information that affects us at a cellular level. Often times we focus on the quantity of food (in the form of calories), but I want to focus on the quality when it comes to eating for fuel and energy.
Have you ever eaten just a piece of toast for breakfast and been hungry 30 minutes later? This is an example of eating a meal that is too heavy in quick burning, refined carbohydrates that can cause a blood sugar spike, then a quick crash and cravings for more fuel. Imagine if you added some almond butter, avocado or good quality deli meat how that might keep you full for longer and give you more fuel.
When specifically talking about regulating blood sugar levels, it’s important to look at carbohydrates. Not all carbohydrates are created equally. When we think of “carbs” we usually think bagels, pasta and bread. But did you know that vegetables are a source of carbohydrates as well?
Whenever we eat any type of carbohydrate, whether it’s cup of pure sugar or a plate of fresh vegetables, the molecules in the food are broken down as they’re absorbed, which impacts blood glucose levels and insulin release.
Some carbs like vegetables or 100% whole grains (rice, oats, quinoa) cause a smaller and more gradual rise in blood glucose, while other carbs like refined grains (bagels, muffins, crackers) and sugary sodas, cause a larger glucose spike and higher insulin release.
To balance your blood sugar, it’s a good idea to eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugars that cause big blood sugar spikes from your diet, and instead focus on eating real, whole foods and lots of vegetables.
By real, whole foods, I mean foods that come from the earth and aren’t changed very much from their original state when you eat them.
If you can’t pronounce the ingredients or there are more than 5 ingredients on the label, it’s likely not a real food.
These include all types of vegetables, good quality meat poultry, fish and eggs, nuts and seeds, good quality oils and a moderate amount of fruits. You can include whole grains like rice, steel-cut oats or quinoa if you tolerate them, but they aren’t always necessary.
Ensuring a good mix of protein, good fats and carbohydrates like veggies or whole grains can help with a more even energy release so we avoid big blood sugar spikes. You’ll be amazed at the magic that starts to happen when we just use this simple rule of “real, whole foods” to dictate our eating choices.
Here’s an example of a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu based on real, whole foods:
Breakfast: Sweet Potato Hash
Lunch: Green Goddess Bowl or a Curry Chicken Salad
Dinner: Thai Pumpkin Soup with some added protein (turkey meatballs, shredded chicken) or avocado
How will you incorporate more real, whole foods into your diet? Or if you already do, what have you noticed? One thing I’ve found is that every one of your favorite foods can be modified and upgraded with whole foods ingredients. What’s one thing you can’t live without? Let’s brainstorm how to upgrade it!
Next week I’m going to talk about how to compose each meal and snack so it’s “balanced”, which is a concept that has totally changed my eating habits and energy levels. Stay tuned!
GET MY SIMPLE BATCH COOKING MEAL PLAN FOR FREE!
+ 7 day meal plan
+ Step by step instructions for how to cook an entire week’s worth of food in just two 2-hour sessions (life changing!)
+ Grocery lists
+ Twelve of my favorite, easy recipes
Enjoy making delicious and nutritious meals in way less time!