We’ve all been there. It’s that time again where we’ve had a terrible nights sleep (or perhaps even no sleep!), either due to a late night with friends, or just purely from the inability to go to sleep. But alas, morning is here (how is it morning so quickly?) and we are suffering the consequences – tiredness. But this is ok right? The day will go quickly and before we know it, we will be back in our cosy, warm beds. But have you thought about the decisions that you make in the day when it comes to food choice when you’re tired?
It is thought that the average ‘tired’ person eats more than 500 extra calories per day, which is suggested to try compensate the feelings of tiredness and help give us an energy boost. This could be in food and drink, such as reaching for extra snacks throughout the day such as cereal bars, crisps and chocolate, all washed down with an energy drink.
But, it is suggested that the foods that are reached for when we are tired, tend to be higher in calories, salt and sugar. Not to mention, there are many foods out there that actually contain sugar and salt when you wouldn’t think that they would! These foods unfortunately cause a spike in blood sugar, meaning that you will experience a sugar high, then sugar low and before you know it, you’re back to feeling tired and low in energy again! So what do you do? You reach for even more food!
It’s easy to think ‘well that’s okay I’ll just make sure that I sleep well every night and then I don’t have to worry‘. But there’s going to be several points in your year, where you just can’t control the events of the night. For instance, you stay in a hotel for the night, but the rest of the guests stay up late, and you’re forced to hear the sounds of slamming doors until the early hours.
Or, you’ve organised a house party at yours, and your guests have overstayed their welcome and before you know it, it’s the early hours of the morning! Or, you’ve gone to a weekend festival, you thought you picked a peaceful quiet spot and you couldn’t have been more wrong! But hey, you met some new people!
The first piece of advice is to consume complex carbohydrates. This is because complex carbohydrates take longer to break down compared to simple carbohydrates.
Your blood sugars will be more steady, you will feel fuller for longer and you will feel more energised as a result. So in the morning, instead of reaching for last night’s left overs, or a white piece of toast smothered in butter, try having a bowl of warm porridge, or even making porridge pancakes! To make this even more healthier, top with fruits such as a banana or frozen berries or even mix in some peanut butter – unless you’re allergic to nuts! This is a great way to help you feel full for several hours and of course, it is a great way to start the day with fruit, which can help to make you feel fresh and healthy and this contributes nicely towards your 5-a-day.
The second piece of advice is to consume protein during the day; perhaps for lunch. Protein takes longer to break down, so similarly to complex carbohydrates, this will help you to feel fuller for longer compared to foods that are processed. This is beneficial as this will also stop you from wanting to reach for unhealthy snacks throughout the day. Try to combine both protein and complex carbohydrates if you can to create that perfect combo, even if it’s just eggs on wholegrain toast!
Secondly, a diet rich with protein can help you to avoid iron-deficiency anaemia, which is also a cause of tiredness, even if you’ve slept well! If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you can still consume protein and iron-rich foods without having to eat animal products, such as green leafy vegetables , chickpeas and fortified cereals to name a few.
The final piece of advice is to consume water throughout the day. It is often tempting to reach for caffeine and energy drinks. But it may be rather surprising to learn that it’s actually water that you need. The body is made up of over 60% of water and being just 1% dehydrated can show physical and mental signs. This is something that you don’t want, especially if you have to go to work all day! While plain glasses of water may be rather boring for some of you, this can be easily solved by adding fruits such as lemon or other flavours such as herbal teas that are caffeine free.
So the next time you’re feeling tired and sluggish, take the time to carefully consider what you’re consuming that day, you might just find that you’re not as tired as you think you are with the right foods and drink on board.