If you follow a healthy whole-food diet all the time at home, but feel it is harder to stick to while you travel or while on a road trip, you are not alone!
Here are some tips and some of my favourite products I like to use while traveling:
1) Research Where You Are Going:
Every time I travel I check out Happy Cow to find out where all the plant-based restaurants and health food stores are in the city I will be visiting. If you don't find anything close by, you will still be able to eat out at most restaurants, I have found that the staff are always more than happy to accommodate. If you can, try to find accommodations with a kitchen, that way you can make a lot of your own food as well.
To make things easier and stress-free, you can even learn how to ask if something has dairy or is vegetarian in whatever the language is where you are visiting.
2) Stay Hydrated:
There is nothing more exhausting than being dehydrated. Staying properly hydrated also allows for more efficient detoxification.
3) Drink Your Superfoods:
Powdered superfoods are easy to bring along with you anywhere you go, and all you need to use them is a liquid and shaker cup. Plus since they are so nutrient-dense and provide so many benefits they will help you feel fully energized and nourished, even if you do stray from your normal healthy diet once in awhile.
4) Stock Up on Healthy Snacks:
Some staples I like to bring along on road trips include chia seeds, hemp seeds, almond milk or coconut milk, and Ipanema Valley Fruit Brownies.
Thank you so much to our sponsors, your products allowed us to stay healthy and energized during our trip. I only endorse products that I truly believe in, that meet my strict ingredient standards, and that I have personally used myself.
These past few weeks I have been feeling very low energy. I'm not usually the most energetic person, however, I have noticed a decrease in my energy levels lately, even though the amount of sleep I get has not changed.
When I wake up in the morning I am still tired, then once I get going I feel okay, but then get really tired again in the afternoon and don't have any energy to do anything after work.
My friends think it is just the change in weather, where I live we are starting to have less and less daylight everyday and not as much sunshine. I am wondering if it could be something else, what the underlying reason may be, and what I can do to get more energy?
Thank you for your question. This is an issue I see in almost all of my clients - low energy!
If you think you are getting enough quality sleep and enough exercise, let's explore some other reasons for low energy levels:
2) Digestion, Food Allergies, Candida, Malabsorption, Leaky Gut
3) Adrenal Fatigue &/or Low Thyroid Function
4) Low Iron and/or B12
5) Overworked Liver (especially if you are also irritable, grumpy or angry)
6) Blood Sugar Instability
7) Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies (especially Vitamin D if the low energy happened with the seasonal change)
As you can see, there are many reasons for low energy, for some people it could even be a combination of reasons.
The good news is that once we rule-out some of underlying causes we can begin to provide support for the remaining imbalances.
1) Are you drinking enough quality water that your cells can actually absorb? Try to focus on drinking filtered alkaline water, a simple counter-top pitcher from Santevia will help remove impurities and alkalize the water.
Making a Sole/Brine solution with Himalayan Crystal Salt and adding 1tsp to your glass of water first thing in the morning may also help improve how well the water is being absorbed.
The general recommendation of 8 glasses per day is not suitable for everyone because the amount of water we need also relies on our body weight, the climate we live in, how active we are, and how dehydrating our diet is. A good indication that you are properly hydrated includes having to urinate once every three hours and the urine being very pale yellow in colour.
2) Are you eating meals that are too large, or too hard to digest? It takes a lot of energy to digest food so if you notice you are mostly tired after meals this is a good indication that your digestive system is taxed. Good quality digestive enzymes, probiotics, and eating smaller meals more frequently are all good places to start.
Maybe some of the foods you are eating are especially depleting your energy because they are causing inflammation and irritation - the most common culprits being dairy, gluten, soy, corn, and egg. This can lead to leaky gut syndrome and eventual problems absorbing all of the nutrients from your food, leading to deficiencies.
3) Is your low energy stress related? Stress can tax our adrenal glands to the point of exhaustion. When the adrenals are overworked this can lead to thyroid function slowing down as well.
Of course there may be other underlying reasons for hypothyroid symptoms, however, if stress is a big factor in your life it would be a good idea to support both the adrenals and the thyroid with specific nutrients, adaptogenic herbs, and stress management.
One of the main reasons adrenal fatigue can cause low energy is to do with the normal cortisol rhythm being shifted. With normal cortisol regulation levels are high in the morning and slowly tapers off until it is low at night, allowing for energy in the day and a peaceful nights sleep. When this shifts to being higher in the evening and night and then low in the morning it will cause low energy in the day and harder to fall asleep at night.
Stay tuned for Part 2 - when we discuss reasons 4 to 7. If you would like to receive these blog articles as a monthly newsletter make sure to sign-up!
If you have a health or nutrition related question, feel free to email Shawna directly and she may feature it for the next Q&A session.
This is such a flavourful and versatile pate - in addition to serving in romaine leaves try it inside collard wraps, nori rolls, or simply as a salad topper!
4-5 romaine leaves
1/2 cup tomato, chopped
1/2 cup avocado, sliced
1/2 cup sprouts
1/4 cup cilantro
1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked
1/2 cup cilantro, tightly packed
3 tbsp sun-dried tomato, soaked
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Mix pate ingredients in food processor until well combined but still chunky. Place a couple tablespoons into each romaine leaf, top with tomato, avocado, sprouts, and garnish fresh cilantro.
Released in 2004, I think this was the first documentary I watched which explored the complex issues regarding the safety and science of GMO foods. This was during the second year of my Science Degree in Nutrition at the University of British Columbia. I had already studied biochemistry, biology, and genetics enough to know that there is something inherently wrong with tampering with the genetic sequence of the foods we are eating.
There are approximately 20,000 genes in the human genome. Genes contain the instructions for making different proteins in the body. It was originally assumed that each gene coded for one specific protein. However, since the number of different proteins we have in our body is closer to 100,000-500,000 it means that each gene codes for more than one protein.
"It seems to be a matter of five or six proteins, on average, from one gene." says Victor A. McKusick, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
There is no way to fully predict or understand what the outcomes will be of cutting up and inserting foreign genes into the genetic code of plants and animals. How will we know what genes and proteins will be affected? How will we know what other proteins will be created in addition to the one they inserted? There are just too many variables to assume we can fully understand all the outcomes.
To add to this complexity is the fact that we have a whole ecosystem of rapidly reproducing bacteria that live inside our digestive tract. There are actually more bacteria in the intestines than we have cells in the entire body. What happens when these fragments of foreign genes from the GMO food we eat gets inserted into these bacteria?
Now let's take a closer look at what some of these GMO crops contain:
1) Plants inserted with a gene that codes for an insecticidal protein. This means the plant is producing an insecticide right inside of its cells, so when an insect tries to eat the plant it will die. And yet this is supposed to be safe for us to eat because it is in such small amounts? Well what happens when this is in over 80% of the food we eat? Have they ever tested the accumulated effects of this high rate of consumption?
2) Plants inserted with a gene that codes for a protein that makes the plant more resistant to pesticides and herbicides. Now, the farmer can spray as much as they like without killing the GMO crop, just all the weeds, insects, and the whole ecosystem that lives in the soil. Now we are left with "food" covered in pesticide residue, one of the most common being glyphosate.
It is not just the pesticide residue and insecticide-producing gene we have to be concerned about when food is grown this way, it actually creates a situation where the plant now contains less vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
What we call antioxidants are actually part of the plant's immune system, and when a plant it grown with all these synthetic fertilizers and man-made chemicals they never get to use their immune system - less immune system stimulation = less antioxidants.
I've only really touched on a small portion of the issues here. To learn more, I encourage you to watch The Future of Food:
"The Future of Food distills the complex technology and consumer issues surrounding major changes in the food system today -- genetically engineered foods, patenting, and the corporatization of food -- into terms the average person can understand. It empowers consumers to realize the consequences of their food choices on our future."
For practical steps to take to avoid purchasing GMO foods and how to identify if a product contains GMO ingredients I offer 'How to Shop GMO-Free' Grocery Store Tours as well as a video about what ingredients to watch out for which is included as bonus material in the 21 Day Vibrant Health Program.
Shawna Barker BSc., RHN is a nutritionist, college instructor, and raw food educator.