At this time of year people are often feeling sluggish and lacking in energy. One vital way in which we can encourage energy levels is to ensure that we maintain a steady release of glucose into the blood. Most of the food we eat gets digested down to glucose, to be absorbed into the blood stream and carried to the cells, where it provides energy. Sugary and refined foods will be digested to glucose very quickly, giving an almost immediate kick of energy, but within an hour or two, the level of sugar in the blood will drop down low, potentially leaving us tired and irritable. Many of my clients will know how important it is to remove sugar from the diet, but just avoiding sugary foods alone may not be sufficient to benefit blood glucose levels.
It is also vitally important that the right foods are eaten at the right time of day, to ensure that blood sugar is kept nice and steady. One of the most common mistakes I find is that people don’t eat enough protein throughout the day. Protein is digested slowly, therefore supporting a gentle release of glucose, not just immediately after a meal, but continuing up until the next meal. It is not that we have to eat a high protein diet, but we need to include some protein at each meal. Most people will have a good source of protein at their evening meal, but very often I find breakfast and lunch can be very low in this vital nutrient.
It is not uncommon for someone on a yeast and sugar-free diet plan to eat a grain for breakfast, such as oats, millet or rice flakes cooked as a porridge. Although these are whole grains, which will be digested to glucose more slowly than refined grains, they should be eaten with some form of protein, to slow down the production of glucose even further, and provide that source of energy a few hours after eating. My usual recommendation for someone who eats a porridge or sugar-free cereal for breakfast is to stir in a couple of dessert spoons of ground seeds. I particularly like the creaminess of ground sunflower seeds. If you haven’t got your own grinder some whole food shops and supermarkets (Waitrose) sell seeds ready ground.
Not only do these provide a source of protein, but they also include beneficial oils, and are packed with nutrients, not least magnesium, which is so important in energy production. If you have time in the mornings, an organic egg is a brilliant source of protein, providing a good balance of the essential amino acids and many other nutrients.
Lunch times I also find are low in protein for may people. Lunch is a good opportunity to eat plenty of vegetables as salads or soups, but ensure that protein, such as cooked chicken, tinned mackerel, sardines or pilchards, beans and legumes, seeds or eggs, is also included. An easy food to provide protein is hummus, Unfortunately most shop-bought hummus is high in salt and poor quality oils. However, it is fairly simple to make your own, and being based around chickpeas and sesame seeds, it is an excellent source of vegetarian protein. Home-made hummus can be frozen into small pots, ready to defrost when needed. Spread on rice-cakes, serve with salad or top a jacket potato, for a cheap and tasty source of protein.
Making sure that protein forms a part of each meal may prevent that sinking feeling and low energy mid morning and mid afternoon. Ensuring that blood sugar levels are stable is important for anyone working to support their gut ecology.
Roast Onion Hummus
Dice and roast in a medium heat oven, two white onions with a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil. After about 30 minutes, or when onion is soft, blend with 1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas ,2 teaspoons of light tahini, juice from ½ a lemon, 1 crushed garlic clove, black pepper and a little Lo-Salt. If mixture is too thick, blend in a tablespoon of cold-pressed Rice Bran oil. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
This will taste different to shop-bought hummus, but work with the ingredients, adding more or less tahini and garlic for example, to develop a recipe that you enjoy.