“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Whatever the medium of your creative expression, inspiration can be far more elusive if you’re feeling low on energy, making every project far more challenging. It’s hard to be creative when your body is exhausted. Finding your focus and flow can be troublesome too.
No matter what you are working on at the moment, to feel filled with enough energy to create, your body needs to be nourished. Certain foods are so packed with goodness, they’re like little dynamos, offering you far more pep per portion.
How and when you eat is also just as important as what you eat, with some eating habits more likely to cause lethargy than liveliness. If you experience regular fluctuations in energy, it can often be attributed to erratic blood sugar levels. Skipping meals or going too long without any nourishment will cause your energy plummet faster than Newton’s apple, and with it, your ability to stay focused, passionate, and creative will plummet too.
Why Am I tired?
There are a host of reasons why you may be feeling a slump in energy levels, many of which are simple to overcome. Although it’s tricky to find a writer or creative professional who isn’t in love with coffee, dehydration coupled with too much caffeine depletes energy, as can a deficiency of nutritious foods. Poor digestion and detoxification results in fatigue. You may also find that low iron stores – especially common in women and vegetarians – are at the root of your problem.
Eat Protein at Every Meal
“The trick to avoiding being stuck on this emotional roller-coaster is to avoid processed sugars – especially on an empty stomach – and to include protein in every meal,” says leading nutrition consultant, Ian Marber. “Protein encourages a series of hormonal secretions, which slow down the digestive process and help to create a more consistent blood sugar level.” All foods have what is known as a ‘glycaemic value’, measuring the speed with which they release their sugars.
“You don’t need to steer clear of all types of bread, pasta, potatoes and cereals, just opt for wholegrain varieties and combining protein with fibre in this way also slows down sugar release,” adds Ian. By eating food that supplies your cells with a steady supply of glucose, you’ll find your energy will be far more consistent, and in turn, your inspiration and creativity dependable too.
To enhance your creativity, feel alert, and full of energy you need optimum levels of neurotransmitters or brain messengers, balanced blood sugar levels and a steady stream of nutrients, which are best obtained from a varied and balanced diet. To process the fuel into energy you also need a range of micro-nutrients.
It can also help to take supplements, but that they are just that – supplements to a good diet. It’s always best to obtain the real deal direct from the source. By making a few simple changes to what you eat during the day, you can improve your energy levels and increase your motivation, creativity and concentration too. For vitality, vigor and vim read on.
How to Eat for Increased Energy
- Drink enough water – it transports nutrients throughout the body, prevents water retention and assists in the detoxification process, ensuring all bodily functions are working optimally. If you don’t drink enough of the good stuff, vow to drink at least 1.5 liters a day for a week – you’ll be amazed at how much more energy you have.
- Always eat breakfast – If you’re running late but haven’t eaten, grab a piece of fruit and a slice of bread and eat it on your way. Buying a carton of fruit juice will also give increase your energy levels but never miss out on breakfast as you’re also missing out on lower stress levels, an increased metabolism, and even a natural boost to your mood.
- Eat a Varied, Colourful Diet – By bringing plenty of colourful, fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet you can optimise your intake of phytonutrients. These are powerful plant chemicals with astonishing disease-fighting properties. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in carotenoids, (beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin), and also contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals that help the liver break down cancer-causing toxins and pollutants. Red grapes and blueberries contain resveratrol and anthocyanins, which are what make red wine so famously good or you.
- Eat every three to four hours – or eating several small meals a day will help to regulate your blood sugar levels so you stay more energetic and alert, and as you won’t get too hungry as a result, will be less likely to have unhealthy cravings. Along with regular meals, keep a selection of healthy snacks on hand, such as fresh or dried fruit, nuts and seeds. An ideal way to alleviate tiredness or energy slumps is to eat high-protein snacks at mid-morning and mid-afternoon, such as avocado on rice cakes with sprinkled sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds; humus with crudities; chia seeds, nuts and raisins stirred into natural yoghurt.
Top Foods for Instant Energy
- Energy fruits – Avocado, strawberries, apple, pear, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, kiwi fruit and bananas are all good choices as the body assimilates them very easily, giving an instant energy boost.
- Energy vegetables – Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, artichokes, spinach, kale, cabbage, parsley and alfalfa are some of the healthiest foods around, packed with B vitamins, the energy nutrients magnesium, iron and coenzyme Q10.
- Energy grains – Unrefined grains release sugar slowly and give you a steady flow of energy instead of a quick high followed by a low, and are also rich in vitamins and minerals. The healthiest grains are: wholegrain wheat, oats, quinoa, brown and wild rice, millet and rye bread.
- Energy protein – Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, tofu, eggs, brazil nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds, sunflower seeds, chick pea, lentils, soya beans, sprouted seeds and grains (such as sprouted mung beans).
Nutrients for Increased Energy
- Eat enough… Vitamin B1 helps keep your nervous system healthy and breaks down carbohydrates into energy (wholegrain wheat, brown rice, chickpeas, salmon, soya beans), Vitamin B2 breaks down carbohydrates, proteins and fats so your body can use them for energy and repair (almonds, brewer’s yeast, cheese), Vitamin B3 works with vitamin B2 to convert proteins into energy (eggs, fish, sunflower seeds, turkey), Vitamin B5 breaks down carbohydrates, proteins and fats for energy (blue cheese, corn, eggs, lentils, liver, peanuts, soya beans), Vitamin B6 works alongside enzymes influencing hundreds of processes in the body and converts food energy into energy usable by cells (avocados, bananas, bran, carrots, hazelnuts, salmon, shrimps), Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, helps fight stress and enables the body to absorb iron from food (blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, broccoli, cabbage, guava, kale), Chromium works with insulin in assisting cells to take in glucose and release energy (beef, chicken, eggs, fruit, milk, potatoes), Coenzyme Q10 a critical nutrient for energy production at a cellular level (all food, particularly beef, mackerel, sardines, spinach), Magnesium is vital for the maintenance of adequate energy levels and essential in regulating potassium and the functioning of the adrenal gland, both important in keeping energy consistent (almonds, fish, green leafy vegetables, nuts, soya beans) and Zinc is present in every tissue throughout the body and because it is used for many different functions, zinc constantly needs to be replaced to maintain optimum energy levels (egg yolk, fish, all meat, milk, oysters, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds).