January can be a depressing month, especially if you live where winter can be cold, wet and dark. No wonder we feel slower, sadder and more lethargic. The thrill of the holiday season is gone and all we want to do is curl up and hibernate, and eat, until early spring. In January, my dietary habits always seem to change, and not for the better. It’s too cold to enjoy my morning smoothie. I crave toast slathered with almond butter. I want to wear sweatpants and a hoodie for four months straight, or at least until the snow is gone and I can get back into regular clothes.
I know why I’m off kilter. I’m craving the sunshine to provide Vitamin D and to nurture and energize the soul. Without warmth, it’s hard to feel motivated to do much of anything. Then there are those sunny winter days when the snow is glistening and everything is still. On those days, I realize that now is the ideal time of year to reinvent yourself and refocus your goals, including what goes into your body. That means choosing warming, grounding foods that are satisfying but also provide you with the hit of energy you need.
So add some of these foods to your diet now to start feeling more alive, even if it is the dead of winter.
Top 7 Energy Boosting Foods
Chia Seed This super food of the Aztecs is loaded with fibre and essential fatty acids. It contains 20 per cent protein and all eight essential amino acids. Plus, it helps to lower or maintain blood sugar and blood pressure. Crunchy and delicious, chia seeds don’t need to be ground to give you fibrous benefits. Just add them to your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, salad or soup for some added texture.
Hemp Seed A full 40 per cent of hemp seeds contains protein, which helps to stabilize blood sugar as well as your mood. They are also high in essential amino acids and fatty acids and phytonutrients that provide immune support and protect skin, organs and tissues.
Cocoa Nibs One of the highest sources of magnesium, raw cocoa nibs are loaded with antioxidants and are easy for the body to absorb. They contain theobromine, a substance that can give you that extra kick of energy you need during a lull in your day. Nibs are also a great source of tryptophan, an essential ingredient in the production of mood-enhancing serotonin.
Coconut Oil This fragrant oil adds depth and flavour to just about any food. Almost half of the fats in coconut oil are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are quickly digestible and converted by the liver into energy for immediate use. One MCT fatty acid is anti-bacterial and another is anti-fungal, making this oil a great boost to your immune system.
Maca This root vegetable from Peru is known for its ability to help sustain energy, especially while you are exercising. There are three varieties. While black maca stimulates learning and memory capacity, the red variety (aka Peruvian Ginseng) is good for prostate health. Yellow maca is known for promoting female fertility and reducing menopausal symptoms.
Pecans Rich in oleic acid, the same healthy fatty acid found in olive oil, pecans are high in many vitamins, minerals and substances. In particular, ellagic acid and lutein help detoxify damaging free radicals and prevent heart disease. Add nuts to salad or soup to give you that extra energy boost.
Rolled Oats A bowl of oatmeal is a great way to kickstart your day. You can get the same pump from just sprinkling some rolled oats in your smoothie or indulging in some low-fat oatmeal cookies or muffins. Or you can swap breadcrumbs for oats in your turkey burgers and meatballs. Oats keep blood sugar stable and help lower cholesterol levels. Their fibre content also helps to regulate blood pressure and support immune function. They also come in the gluten-free variety, which is always a bonus.