One of the most serious health related problems in the workplace is fatigue. It can impact on the job accidents, absenteeism and productivity. Fatigue is often caused by poor sleep however other big energy zappers include poor diet, lack of exercise, dehydration and stress.
Food is your fuel and when we don’t get it regularly or the quality of the fuel is poor, our energy levels can suffer. There are a few things you can do to improve your energy with the food choices you make.
- Eat Breakfast. Breakfast not only provides your brain with a source of carbohydrates, it also stimulates your metabolism and gets you going for the day. Research shows that breakfast eaters to better in skill- testing questions. Breakfast eaters tend to make better food choices throughout the rest of the day. Make an egg sandwich on whole grain bread with avocado and tomato or top a bowl of berries with Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of granola.
- Include Protein. Having a source of protein with your meals can help anchor your energy and make it last longer. Protein will also help prevent blood sugar spikes. Good sources of protein include Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, lentils, chickpeas, peanut butter, eggs, meat, fish or poultry. When packing your lunch or dinner think about what you packed for protein. Even if you are eating a vegetarian diet, you still need plant proteins such as edamame or pulses. Bring a lentil soup or chickpea curry in a thermos. Toss in a mini tin of tuna to eat with crackers or cucumber slices. Hard boiled eggs and trail mix are also portable protein options.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They provide you with essential vitamins and minerals you need for good health and a source of energy for your brain to keep you alert. Often when people are tired, they think they are hungry. Eating when you are not hungry can lead to excess calorie intake. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and make a healthy snack to top up your energy when on the road. Pack a container of cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and bell pepper strips to keep with you in the cab for when your snack attack hits. For more flavour bring leftover Greek salad or a container of cut cantaloupe.
- Drink water. Water is your best choice for hydration. It has zero calories and is an essential fluid your body needs for digestion, absorption, waste removal and temperature regulation. When you are dehydrated you may get blurry vision, headaches and have difficulty concentrating. Depending on how long you will be on the road you may need to pack several water bottles. If water is boring for you try infusing your water with slices of orange and lemon, mint and cucumber or apple and cinnamon sticks.
- Limit your caffeine. Although caffeine can give you a boost in the morning it can affect the quality of your sleep if you have it too close to bedtime. Avoid caffeine at least 5 hours before you plan to sleep.
6. Take Vitamin D. Most Canadians don’t get enough vitamin D which can affect our mood and energy. Aim to take 1000 IU vitamin D daily.
Behaviour change that can make a difference to your energy.
- Sleep. Adults need a minimum of 6-8 hours of sleep per day. Sleep is not a luxury it is a necessity. People who sleep less than 6 hours per night are more likely to become obese. Get into a regular bed time routine and have lights out by a certain time. Limit TV and computer screens 1 hour before bed. Consider having a bath before bed and make sure your bedroom is dark.
- Get Moving: Daily activity can improve your mood, strength and flexibility, help you manage stress and make you feel good about yourself. Being active can also help improve the quality of your sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep after your evening workouts, consider moving them to the morning. What activity can you add into your day? Go for a walk after you eat lunch. If you have a normal route where there is a gym near where you stop for break, try to stop in for a quick 30-minute workout, create a routine. On your days off commit to a longer workout. Go to the gym, play basketball or ride your bike.
- Reduce Stress: eating well, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are all important components to managing stress. Yoga, relaxation techniques and meditation can also help. Try to use stress as a positive and harness the adrenaline to get things done. If you have chronic stress you can’t deal with on your own, seek help.
By addressing the energy zapper that is most likely preventing you from getting where you want to be, you will start to make positive changes in your life that will have a trickledown effect on everything you do. When you are happy, healthy and energized research shows you perform better too.