Eating well is something that many people see as a chore; yet another thing that has to be done in order to maintain your physical health. But with a new year comes a new you and a balanced, nutritious diet has so many more benefits than just physical health, from improving your energy to aiding post exercise recovery and even boosting your mental wellbeing!
We’ve all been there before on a Monday morning, feeling sluggish, tired and extra irritable after an indulgent weekend and not nearly enough veggies! Which is why we like to use the food we eat as an awesome tool for boosting our moods and overall happiness. So, we asked our friends at Neat Nutrition for their expert tips on doing just that…
Eat Balanced, Regular Meals
Eating irregular meals that are full of quick digesting carbohydrates (like sugar, white bread or a cheeky mince pie) sends your blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster ride, which will soon leave you feeling tired and irritable as they crash back down. By eating slightly smaller portions of satiating protein, healthy fats and slow-releasing carbohydrates (such as brown rice, oats or quinoa) at regular intervals throughout the day, this will help keep you fuller for longer, and feeling more mentally level.
If you know you’ve got a busy day ahead, our handy single-serving sachets of whey and vegan protein are perfect for keeping your energy levels topped up, whether you need a quick post-workout refuel or a healthy snack on-the-go. Prefer something you can chew on? Whip up a batch of these peanut butter and oat protein balls on the weekend and pop a couple in your bag, ready for when hunger pangs hit.
Keep Things Simple & Consistent
Consistency is key! It can be hard to keep up New Year’s resolutions so try to find a way to eat well that suits your lifestyle, meaning you’ll actually stick to it! We recommend taking things back to basics – a healthy diet doesn’t mean you need to buy a hundred different ingredients that you can’t pronounce from your local health food store! Instead, focus on having a plate full of colourful veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats and slow-releasing carbohydrates, before adding in the odd treat here or there. It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that!
Why lean proteins? They help to keep your neurotransmitter levels balanced – thanks to the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is the main building block for serotonin – the happiness molecule! At this time of year we all feel a bit down-in-the-dumps so fill up on chicken, whey protein, eggs or plant based protein sources such as tofu, pulses and pea and hemp protein for a natural and healthy mood-boost. For a convenient high protein meal in a hurry, try blending up one of our favourite protein smoothie recipes. They might taste like indulgent milkshakes, but they’re actually packed full of goodness!
Drink Less Caffeine
This tip might not win us many friends, but if you suffer from anxiety or poor mental health, drinking a lot of coffee isn’t going to do you any favours! Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can give you a quick energy burst, but, like sugar, will often be followed by a crash. It can also heighten physical symptoms such as a racing heart and the inability to sleep.
Want the energy kick without the nasty side effects? Try Matcha green tea powder instead, like in this pineapple and matcha smoothie. It still contains caffeine, but thanks to the amino acid L-Theanine, the release is much slower and is said to be both energising and relaxing at the same time.
Get In Your Omega 3’s
Who knew your favourite oily fish could be so beneficial for your brain health? Foods that are high in omega 3’s – think salmon, mackerel, flaxseed, chia and walnuts – will help support the functioning of your brain and can even help to reduce symptoms of depression through these long dark winter months.
Give your brain a boost to power through your to-do list by starting your day with this raspberry chia pudding recipe…
Listen To Your Body
Just because a certain food makes your friend or colleague feel good, doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily make you feel great too! Do you prefer a big breakfast to fuel you through the morning or does that make you feel sluggish and heavy? Maybe you prefer to eat regular snacks rather than three big meals a day. It’s important to remember that everyone’s different, so make sure to take your individual needs and preferences into account when finding the diet that works best for you.