You put gas in your car to make it run – but have you ever thought about what you feed your body to keep it strong, healthy and full of energy? Here at ShopRite, we’re on a mission to help our customers find foods, recipes and meal ideas that will help them feel good and keep their motors running all day long. Below, we’ve asked Stephanie Perez, RD, Dietitian Supervisor at ShopRite, to share some of her best meal planning strategies for staying powered up throughout the day.
Q. Why is eating for energy so important?
We’re all so busy, and when we take steps to help us feel our best, we’re more productive. Most importantly, at the end of the day, we have more energy for what’s really important – spending time enjoying our lives, and being with friends and family.
Q. Is it really possible to increase your energy level through eating certain foods?
Absolutely! By paying attention to what you’re eating and trying your best to consume a healthy, balanced diet, it’s amazing how much better – and more energetic – you’ll feel almost immediately.
Q. What about eating a “balanced” diet – how do I know what that means?
Balancing your plate is pretty simple. Try to make sure half your plate is composed of fruits and vegetables, and the other half is filled with a source of lean protein and some whole grain carbs. When you are mindful of the balance of foods you consume at each meal, it goes a long way. Over time, by making one small lifestyle change such as balancing your plate, you’ll be on your way to a healthier you.
Q. How does someone who wants to feel more energetic change their diet?
You don’t have to change your diet completely, but if you want to have sustained energy throughout the day, you might want to look at what you are eating and when you are eating it. For instance, it’s ok to eat every three-four hours, but you want to make sure you’re doing this only if you’re hungry. Snacks shouldn’t fill you up completely, but they should provide a bridge between meals.
Q. What’s the difference between making a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and changing your lifestyle in small ways, such as eating for energy?
Vowing to lose weight often results in a numbers-driven goal, and when you reach that number you go back to eating the way you’re used to. When this happens, many times the weight is gained back, and sometimes you’re left at a higher weight than when you started. By altering your lifestyle and finding ways to enjoy a more balanced diet, you’ll stay energized and healthy, and still enjoy the foods you love.
Q. I rely on coffee for an energy boost. Isn’t that good enough?
People tend to think of coffee as a way to get quick energy. Although coffee itself is okay, it’s what we’re adding to our caffeinated beverages that can eventually zap some of our energy. If you like your morning mocha sweet, consider adding a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder to your coffee, a splash of vanilla extract, and some low-fat milk. This provides a slightly chocolate flavor without any sugar. Pair this with a piece of whole grain toast, a banana, and a string cheese, and you’ll have energy to spare throughout the morning.
Q. What kinds of foods are energy zappers?
Foods that digest quickly, such as refined grains like white bread and pasta, or goodies like cake and candy, may deliver a shot of fast energy. However, they’re digested quickly, and soon after chowing down, you’ll be hungry again and looking for another quick energy fix.
Q. Can you share some meal/snack suggestions for sustained energy?
When thinking of foods as fuel, think fiber and protein. These foods take longer to digest and provide sustainable energy. Fiber that comes from fruits, veggies, and whole grains like whole wheat breads, quinoa, and whole grain crackers are also great choices. Pairing these foods with a source of lean protein, such as chicken breast, low-fat cheese, nuts, seeds or beans means you’ll feel full longer, and have more energy overall.
For more information and suggestions on how to eat foods for energy, look for the colorful Well Everyday “Fuel Better” signs throughout the store, or visit your local ShopRite dietitian’s office. To find an in-store dietitian near you, visit shoprite.com.