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Post-summer greens (no blues here)

Returning after holidays is always bitter-sweet. Alex shares a few ideas on how to regain your energy again!

Photographs: Pexels

Text: Alexandra Beck

The summer holidays have been good to us in many ways - natural sunlight, travel, magical moments with loved ones and the wonderful, tasty treats that topped off our plates and palates. For the first time since lockdown, I feel that some "normalcy" has also re-ignited our curiosity when it comes to new places, spaces and foods - and as much as this makes our holidays more interesting, it also may create a new guilt factor around over-indulging and under-moving.

I don't often talk about nutrition - however, I thought I'd touch upon it a little as it represents a significant part of our overall health, especially when we are about to return head first to our daily routines. It's not often that anyone will look at a menu at a holiday resort and think, "Ah, well, that chocolate fudge brownie cookie dough delight dessert doesn't contain any nutrients, so I'll go for the watermelon and kiwi bowl instead" - and rightfully so.

Perhaps you feel great, energised and ready to get back to your daily business, which is what one truly hopes for - however it does occasionally happen that once we get there, our body reacts with a series of little signs that require some attention in the form of a little nutrition switch up (and a little exercise of course).

If you find yourself feeling sluggish after the holidays, here are a few ideas on how you could make a slight change in your overall diet to help your body regain some good energy:

1. Try eating unprocessed foods

While many comforting foods (like a cheeseburger and fries) may feel great while eating them, their nutritional value is low. Processed foods, such as candy, packaged foods and pre-cooked meats, are typically full of preservatives, sodium, additives and artificial ingredients that may slow you down. Try swapping for fruits and vegetables, eggs, herbs and spices, lean meat and seafood, etc.

2. Opt for fresh seasonal fruit and veg

The fresher, the better! We are after the nutrition values of the most colourful, seasonal fresh produce - this will be an energy booster guaranteed! Eating what's in season has many incredible benefits (including better taste!) - often less costly, with a higher nutritional content that will support your body's natural needs and is more environmentally friendly.

3. Consume more lean proteins

Chicken and turkey will provide you with quality protein while containing less saturated fat (than red meat marbled in fat) - help lower blood cholesterol, support brain function and promote a higher metabolic rate, while fish, with its high content in omega-3 fatty acids, can also add some extra beneficial heart-healthy fats.

4. Whole grains and complex carbohydrates

Much like processed foods, refined carbs, like sugars and white flour, contain little nutrition. Choose whole grain foods and complex carbs to ensure your body gets the full benefits of the added fibre to your diet. A few examples are quinoa, sweet potatoes, beans, oatmeal, and lentils.

5. Nuts and seeds, baby!

These are some of the BEST foods to beat fatigue and fight cravings, and integrating a good variety of nuts and seeds into your diet will provide healthy nutrients and great energy.

6. Drink more water

Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, as it can help support physical performance, prevent headaches and constipation and significantly affects energy levels and brain function! So get that 1.2L quencher you have been eying up on Instagram, fill it up, add a slice of lemon and sip up! Proper food's effect on your overall energy levels will be noticeable within days. Pay a little more attention to your diet when you feel your body is not following, and I can almost say with certainty that you will feel the difference and appreciate your complete energy levels as you return to your routines.

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