May is coming to a close and the slow start to spring has us all guessing what the next week will bring. Planning when to be in the yard or in the field has become a game of chance with the local weather forecast. A conversation came up recently that talked about the long days and nights trying to get everything done and how easy it was to reach for an extra soda with caffeine or to grab an energy drink to get us through and accomplish our tasks. In an extreme condensed version, here are the highlights that you might want to think about for other ways to get more energy in your life.
Most energy drinks have the main ingredients of sugar and caffeine. When you drink them, there is an increase in “energy” because of a spike in blood sugar that lasts a little while and then drops below where it was to begin with. Then, we grab another one to help because we feel tired again and thus the cycle. More caffeine is not the answer for more energy. Our bodies quickly become dehydrated with this habit and just plain water is needed to re-hydrate our cells. There are food choices that can assist with not only relatively quick release but longer maintenance of our blood sugars such as carbohydrates and proteins. In other words, eat a sandwich, or grab some cheese and crackers. Preferably a whole grain bread with a low fat protein, but the goal is to get our blood sugar up and sustained rather than sharp spikes of up and down that are hard on our bodies. Here are some easy tips that might make packing food for the field or sporting event a little easier:
- Use foil instead of plastic to make grabbing a sandwich easier from the cooler. Maybe cut the sandwich into bite sized pieces for easy eating, instead of holding the whole thing at once.
- Try kabobs with meat and cheese chunks for easy handling if washing hands are not possible. Or keep toothpicks or short skewer sticks available to “spear” fruits, meat and cheese chunks and/or sandwich bites.
- Pack lots of water to replace caffeinated beverages or even enjoy milk if the cooler can accommodate it.
- Look at your routine and decide if your lack of energy is a feeling that happens only once in a while or if it’s something that has become common. If it’s something that has become routine, it might be time to really look at the diet, exercise, stress level or sleep habits in life. If you want to boost energy levels naturally, try these expert suggestions:
- Eat several small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones.
- Avoid large amounts of sugar and fat.
- Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
- Take a quick exercise break, such as a short walk.
- Exercise regularly.
- Consider paced breathing, which can improve your heart rate and boost relaxation, or meditating for a short time.
- Reduce stress.
- Get enough sleep.
As you plan for a long day in the tractor, reach for foods to keep your energy up, not just a quick drink that won’t last long. Taking a minute to plan ahead, will help more in the long run.