Elevate Your Energy
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Nutrition ideas to tap into more oomph

By Andrea Holwegner RD, Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. – for CBC.ca

Better eating habits for better energy

What would YOU do with more energy? What would change in your work or personal life if you had more get-up-and-go? You may be like many people that inherently know that what you eat influences how you feel. So why then is it so hard to make healthy choices?

Despite the willingness to make healthful changes in their diet, half of Canadians find it difficult to do so. Forty-one percent of Canadians agree that their “life is so hectic they find it hard to include healthier food options on a daily basis.”

Maybe you can relate to me… I often feel like I am juggling a big ball of fire between work, family commitments and trying to squeeze in time to eat well, keep active, relax and get enough sleep. Often the first thing to go when you get busy or stressed may be exercise and balanced nutrition. Ironically these are the things that help you manage all the chaos and pressures that life hands you.

Consider the following… you may have got used to running on 60, 70 or 80 per cent of your maximum energy and likely have forgotten what peak energy feels like. Chances are you may never have actually experienced what 100 per cent energy feels like and don’t even know what you are missing. The good news is there are simple nutrition strategies you can start implementing today that can impact your energy substantially despite a busy schedule.

3 Tips to Triple Charge Your Energy:

#1 Eat Most of Your Food by 4pm

While various books and so-called health experts have varying opinions on meal and snack timing, what you really need to do is tune in and listen to your body…it really does know best. If you listen hard, your body will give you signals of hunger every 3-5 hours. Look for signs of true biological hunger such as a dip in focus or concentration, grouchiness or the stomach rumbles.

For example if you eat a balanced breakfast at 7am then somewhere between10am and 12noon you should be ready for a snack or lunch. If you eat lunch at noon and you have a schedule like mine that doesn’t allow me to eat dinner until about 7pm – your energy will be flailing sometime between 3-5pm. This is the most common time of day for energy to be low. It is also the usual time of day when you may feel like reaching for a quick fix snack like a bag of chips, pop or chocolate bar in an attempt to make it through the afternoon. If you had the willpower to skip these and chose to wait to eat until you got home, you may have ended up gorging on anything in sight or consuming an extra large supper since by then it’s been over six hours and your hunger was out of control.

If you really do eat every 3-5 hours what is interesting is that you will indeed eat most of your food by 4pm. Why is this important? If you consider that if you have a demanding day job at the office or are busy taking care of kids at home – you need most of your energy throughout the day. Funny enough the most common meals for people to skip are breakfast followed by lunch. These are the meals that help us fight fatigue and give us the crucial energy to focus and concentrate for the day. Ironically I haven’t met too many people that skip supper when this is the meal that has the least influence on our energy (unless of course you do most of your work at night).

#2 Marry Carbs and Protein

Carbohydrates (carbs) are found in grains/starches such as bread, pasta, and rice along with fruits and veggies. You can think of carbs like “gasoline” to fuel the brain and muscles. Carbs are also comfort foods – they boost serotonin in the brain which boosts mood. If you have missed sufficient carbs in your meals your brain will not have the needed energy it needs to get you through the day.

Protein is found in food such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy foods, eggs, nuts/seeds, legumes such as lentils, chick peas or black beans as well as soy foods such as tofu and soy milk. Protein provides fullness and sustained energy simply because it is slow to digest. If you have missed a source of protein in your meals you will feel highs and lows in your energy.

When you choose meals that are just carbs – you will likely only be full for 1-2 hours and your energy will be sporadic like you are on a rollercoaster. When you choose meals that have protein added you should be full for the 3-5 hours you are looking for. Meals and snacks that have both carbs and protein will keep your energy consistent through the day and help you feel like you are riding a train rather than a rollercoaster. Don’t believe me? Take a test. Tomorrow have breakfast with only carbs such as toast with a fruit. Then, the next day have the same breakfast but now this time add a protein such as a slice of cheese, peanut butter, or even a latte! Did you know that one cup of milk or soy milk has more protein than an egg?

#3 Take the 10 Point Meal Challenge

At your breakfast, lunch and supper take my 10-point meal challenge. If you ate within one hour of waking or within 3-5 hours of your last meal you get 2 points already. If you had a grain or starchy food you can add another 2 points. Including a vegetable and/or a fruit will score you another 3 points and having a source of protein will add another 3 points. If you score 10 points regularly at your meals you are eating on time and finding an ideal balance of both carbs and protein that will be sure to boost your energy.

Andrea Holwegner — the Chocoholic Dietitian — is a registered dietitian and founder and president of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting in Calgary.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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