When you work and want to keep several activities (such as exercising, and taking part in an NGO), while keeping a social life… you are always on the go, and it is hard to eat, drink and sleep properly. I shared my tips for better sleep, now I turn to the eating and drinking part.
When I moved to Paris for studying, I was 17, and frankly I had no clue how to treat my body well with food and drinks. I was having an active life, but I was systematically tired. Part was due to my sleeping issues; part to my problems was caused by eating trash and drinking excessive amounts of tea and coffee…
Get enough hydration, but drink proper stuff
The first tiredness problem that you can fix by changing your habits is to drink enough. But some drinks are to be avoided, or at least consumed with moderation.
Water is good but… I realized that sometimes it was not helping to drink glasses and glasses of it. If you drink a big glass of water and still feel completely dry, try something sweet or salty (fruit juice or vegetable broth). Or even better, if you like the taste, coconut water. It is full of electrolytes and antioxidants, and it is the MOST hydrating thing I ever tried (unfortunately, it is rather expensive…).
And if I want something sparkly, I got used to sparkling water. It is fresh and bubbly, but without the bad chemicals of soft drinks. I didn’t like it when I was younger, but really now I love it.
Coffee is ok, but to be consumed in moderation
Coffee wakes you up, but if you have too much, not only it prevents you from sleeping properly, but in my case, it also feels kind of de-hydrating, and makes my stomach kind of burn if I have too much. Moreover, it tends to make me more nervous and sweaty. I tried to give up coffee, but I just can’t… what I could do is to reduce my intake to one or two cups a day: one in the morning, and if I feel like it, one after lunch. But never in the afternoon, and I try to really keep this limit of two a day. So I am trying to have a relaxed approach to coffee: it is OK if I can’t give it up, I should just consume little amounts.
Tea is good, but if you have too much of it, it can cause iron deficiency
If you tend to suffer from anaemia, beware!! Drinking too much tea can prevent the iron from staying in your body. Green tea is very good for your health, but it is even worse than black tea in terms of potentially causing iron deficiency. This is why, when I tried to replace my 6 to 8 daily cups of coffee (!!!!!!!! that was my worst era) by tea. I was feeling more tired than ever. Well, now, again, I am having at most one or two cups of tea a day, and it’s much better.
However there is a substitute: there are many sorts of herbal tea with all kinds of benefits. I prefer calming ones, such as verbena, chamomile or lavender, because again, I tend to be a crazy anxious freak, but they all smell amazing. And herbal tea gives the same comfort and satisfaction of having a cup of something warm, but without the drawbacks of tea and coffee. Again, that’s something that REALLY makes me feel better now that I figured it out.
Cooking for several meals
Eating healthy food on a regular basis makes you feel amazing. But if you buy it already cooked, it is going to ruin you, and if you cook it every day it just takes too long. So I try to cook BIG amounts of food, so I spend one hour about once a week, and then during the week it just takes a few minutes to warm a plate.
Reconnecting with cooking really helps having a healthier relationship with food. And using more raw ingredients and less ready-made ones makes me feel much healthier.
Carrying fruit and water around
If you are always on the go, you might often be hungry and need a snack. I try now to always carry something like an apple in my bag, so that if I’m starving I don’t have to buy the first snack that I can find (and that usually is packed with sugar, trans fats and all the bad stuff). And having a bottle of water with me makes me save a lot of money; I just refill it from a tap. Because when you are on the go, the nearest available drink tends to be expensive (and in my case, if I have to spend 2€, I tend to buy a soft drink, because spending 2€ on water feels just unfair).
Fiber is filling – really
I tend to exercice thrice a week, and walk or cycle every day, so I do need a lot of energy. But I discovered that I don’t have to eat tons of pasta to feel full. I am by no means advising anyone to “cut back on carbs to lose weight” (do want you want with your weight, and eating no carbs is probably dangerous). But I discovered that, after substituting more fruits and vegetables for things like bread and pasta, well, I am NOT feeling more hungry all the time. What i AM feeling, is less tiredness after each meal. I did not do this to lose weight, I am not on a diet (and in fact, I didn’t lose weight). But eating more things that are full of fiber such as salad and apples just makes me feel lighter and more energetic. I think the reason is that fiber makes your stomach feel full, but at the same time it is easy to digest. So when I have a workout at night, I used to eat tons of pasta at lunch, and then having a piece of bread as a snack in the afternoon. Now I eat less pasta and more salad at lunch, and have an apple for a snack. But I drink coconut water instead of water during and after my workout. Probably same amount of calories, no weight loss, but I am feeling so much lighter and better every day.
Learning to say no to booze (to some extent)
I still go out, I still get drunk about once a week, but while getting older I slowly learned to say no to “one more drink”.
The hardest part when reducing your alcohol intake is peer pressure. But as I was seeing lots of friends, I realized that I was going out maybe three or four times a week (!!), and it was just too tiring to be hungover that often. So I try to go out once a week, but the rest of the time, when seeing my friends, I suggest to go ANYWHERE but to the bar. That helps.
Also, when I am already tipsy and someone offers me one more drink, I learned to say “no thanks” and have a glass of water instead. Really it makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER.
So learning to listen to your body and eat and drink healthier is a long process. I am not recommending to give up coffee or alcohol completely.
What I am in the process of doing is reconnecting to my own body; I try to not do something when I KNOW it will make me feel bad. Really, eating or drinking something while knowing it is good for me makes it much easier.
It is not about being on a diet because you hate your body. I have been there, I have done that (even having slight eating disorders when I was much younger).
It is about loving your body and doing it good. When you learn to love your body, you don’t feel the contradiction “it tastes amazing so YOLO I’ll have it / I feel tired all the time because I eat trash”. When loving your body and caring for it, there is no contradiction, just things that are good for you (so you are happy to have them), and things that are bad for you (so you are not sad to have just a tiny amount).