6 Easy Ways to Naturally Increase Your Energy Level

Before you reach for another coffee or energy drink to keep you going, try one of these all-natural energy tips.  They may not give you wings, but you’ll get enough of a lift to happily get on with your day.  And you won’t get the jitters or miss any shuteye later from overdoing it on caffeine.

6 Easy Ways to Naturally Increase Your Energy Level

  1. Sniff some peppermint.  Peppermint isn’t just for freshening up your breath. Inhaling the fragrance of peppermint oil increases mental concentration and alertness.  A drop or two of peppermint on the tongue is another method of boosting clarity.  But make sure your peppermint oil is from a trusted company that only uses 100% pure therapeutic grade, like Young Living Essential Oils.
  2. Take a stretch break.  Loosening up stiff muscles can relieve discomfort, providing an immediate energy lift.  Adding deep breathing while you stretch will send energizing oxygen to all the places you need it…like your brain!
  3. Giggle, guffaw, and LOL.  Even the National Institute of Health agrees laughing boosts your mood.  Laughing releases stress and tension, two major enemies of energy and well-being.  So go ahead and watch that funny video on YouTube everyone’s raving about. 
  4. Spritz some B12.  As we get older, it’s more likely we’ll become deficient in vitamin B12.  What’s so great about this vitamin?  It supports feelings of well-being, mental alertness, concentration, and memory!  Using a spray version makes it easy to get your B12 fix whenever you need it, and is the quickest method of absorption.
  5. Eat your kale.  Dark leafy greens like chard, collards, and kale are the perfect foods to eat when you’re feeling low.  These veggies are packed with nutrients that will give you a major lift and keep you there.  Incorporating dark leafy greens in a smoothie is a sweet way to get your fill, such as in my post 2 Green Smoothies, 6 Ways to Enjoy Them.  (Take a look at my Recipes section for more ideas.)
  6. Take a “good things” inventory.  Pause for a minute to think about–or better yet, write down–all the good things going on in your life.  Focusing on the positive will elevate your mind space to a happy place.  And happy places are always more energetic, don’t you think?

Got an energy-boosting tip that works for you?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Five Tasty Toppings to Love that Love You Back

You know eating nutritious food is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle.  But did you know you can boost the nutrition of any dish simply by adding herbs and spices?  Here are five tasty ways to maximize any meal:

  1. Chives:  These green tips are rich in Vitamins A, C, and K and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  Yummy on soups, salads, fish, and egg dishes.
  2. Cinnamon:  This spice is not only delicious, but also controls blood sugar and has anti-clotting and anti-microbial properties.  It’s full of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.  Use in both sweet and savory dishes.
  3. Dulse flakes:  These reddish-brown seaweed flakes have a mildly spicy, salty flavor.  They are rich in Vitamins B6 and B12, iron, potassium, riboflavin, fiber, chromium, and magnesium.  Also have some protein, calcium, niacin, and phosphorus.  Sprinkle on soups, stir-fry recipes, and salads.
  4. Parsley:  These leafy or curly sprigs not only freshen your breath, but are also high in Vitamin A, C, K, folate, and iron.  Use in sauces, soups, and dips, or sprinkle on salads, veggies, fish, or meat.
  5. Sesame seeds:  These white or black seeds contain high amounts of copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamine, and fiber.  Tasty on veggies, fish, noodles, and any Asian dishes.

These toppings may be small, but they are mighty in their nutritional benefits.  Feel good when you add these powerhouses to your meals, you are doing amazing things for your body and mind!

I originally wrote a version of this article for a 2011 newsletter for Reaching Out Against Eating Disorders, a not-for-profit organization specializing in eating disorders support and referral in the NYC area.

3 Simple Steps to Achieving Health and Wellness Resolutions

It’s the first week of January.  A brand new year.  You’ve got your resolutions in hand, or on your mind, and you promise yourself this is the year you’re actually going to achieve all of them!  Are you?  I’m not trying to be rude, just practical.  It’s common for people to be excited about their resolutions on January 1st but want to run for the hills when they hear any word beginning with “res” by January 31st.

Discarding, forgetting, or ignoring resolutions can happen to anyone.  Are you a procrastinator and don’t know how to begin taking steps toward your goals?  Are you an overachiever and have so many, or such difficult, resolutions that the pressure of checking them all off your list makes you feel slightly queasy?  Are you somewhere in between?  Whatever your personality style, perhaps I can help with your nutrition and health goals.

I’ve trekked a gazillion miles on the roads called Nourishing Nutrition and Loving Food & Body, so I have some experience in these areas and can share what’s worked for me.  Yes, it is only my point of view and not scientifically proven.  But if someone like myself, who suffered severe food and body issues for over 10 years, could come to a place of health and happiness, I think you can too.

My philosophy to achieving optimal health and well-being can be stripped down to 3 simple steps:

  1. Choose better food.
  2. Choose better actions and behaviors.
  3. Choose better thoughts.

Why these three, and in this order?

Step #1: Choose better food.

I found that when I began eating better quality food, I felt and saw a difference in my body and mood.  Seeing those changes encouraged me to make better choices (actions/behaviors).  Eating nourishing food also elevated and stabilized my mood and energy level, so I was able to think clearly to make better choices more easily.  Like they say, “You are what you eat.”  Positive health changes begin with food.

Step #2: Choose better actions and behaviors. 

When you’re eating well, you naturally want to continue on that healthy path by making positive choices of action and behavior.  Like going to the gym regularly, reading instead of always watching TV, and cutting down the portion sizes of your meals.  Small actions lead to big results.

Step #3: Choose better thoughts.

When I chose better actions and they became new behavioral habits, I noticed my thoughts and self-talk turned more positive, caring, and supportive.  There’s also wisdom in the saying, “You are what you think.”

These three steps combine to transform your body, mind, and spirit into a house of health and well-being.  Now wait, don’t concentrate on the big picture of total transformation at this point!  You’re likely to have a panic attack or give up before you’ve started.  All you should focus on is tackling one step at a time, starting with food.  Don’t worry, I’m not leaving you on your own yet.  In the coming weeks, I will break down each of these steps, providing examples and simple ways to improve your health and well-being.

Have any thoughts or questions about your nutrition or health goals?  I’d love to hear from you!

Breakfast Kasha

Photo by K.C. © 2010 Kristin Conroy

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Buckwheat, also known as kasha, is a highly nutritious food.  Right now I’m experimenting with less commonly used grains for my breakfast cereal.  Oatmeal is a little too gelatinous and soupy for my tastes.  I prefer a heartier, chewier, and more flavorful choice.  Kasha satisfied my requirements delightfully.  My experimental recipe resulted in an easy breakfast cereal that was nutty, earthy, and had lovely depth of taste.  I’m naming it Breakfast of Champions!

As I do with most grains, I double the recipe so I’ll have leftovers for the week.  If you choose to do this, add a little water, milk, juice, or oil (depending on your use for it) when you reheat the kasha.  Note:  Don’t soak this grain!  And don’t add kasha to cold water and bring to a boil (as you can with other grains), it won’t cook properly.

Recipe

makes 2 servings

1 cup kasha

2 cups filtered water

½ to 1 tablespoon Grade B maple syrup

handful of nuts and/or seeds

couple dashes cardamom

couple dashes cinnamon or apple pie spice

Boil 2 cups water.  Rinse kasha in a fine-mesh strainer and check for any unwanted material.  Add 1 cup kasha, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Start checking on the kasha halfway to three-quarters of the way through–there’s a fine line between slightly moist kasha and stuck-and-burning kasha.  When the kasha is done cooking, turn off the heat.  Stir in maple syrup, nuts/seeds, and spices.  Enjoy!

Other ways to spice up your breakfast kasha:  raisins/walnuts/raw honey, coconut milk/shredded coconut/dried fruit.

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