The Energy Diet – Top Tips for Feeling Great Through Diet

The Energy Diet
The Energy Diet

The best way to eat if you want to banish tiredness is to have a healthy, balanced diet that contains foods from the four main food groups in the right proportions.

The four food groups are:

fruit and vegetables

potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods

milk and dairy foods

beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other non-dairy sources of protein

Eat at regular intervals

If you eat at regular times, your body knows when your next meal is coming and learns to manage feelings of hunger and sustain your energy levels.

Try to eat three meals a day and limit snacks – especially high-fat ones – between meals.

Breakfast boosts your energy

Breakfast gives you the energy you need to face the day. Despite this, up to one-third of us regularly skip breakfast, according to the British Dietetic Association (BDA).

Go for healthier options, such as porridge with fruit, vegetable omelette, or wholemeal toast with a scraping of low-fat spread or jam.

If you can’t face eating as soon as you get up, take a high-fibre snack to eat on the run, rather than snacking on high-sugar or high-fat foods.

Here are five healthy breakfasts, plus how to choose healthy breakfast cereals.

Aim for at least 5 A DAY for more vitality

Most people in the UK eat too much fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre – essential nutrients that your body needs to work properly.

Try to incorporate at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg into your daily diet. They can be fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced.

Find tips on how to boost your fruit and veg intake.

Read more about how to get your 5 A DAY.

Slow-burning starches give sustained energy

Starchy foods – also called carbohydrates – such as potatoes, bread, cereals and pasta are an important part of a healthy diet. They’re a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients.

Starchy foods should make up just over a third of everything you eat. There are different types of starch. Where possible, go for slow-burning wholegrain or wholemeal varieties, as they release energy gradually.

Read more about healthy starchy foods.

Sugar steals your stamina

Adults and children in the UK eat too much sugar. Sugar is not only bad for your teeth, it can also be bad for your waistline. It gives you a rush of energy, but one that wears off quickly.

Cutting out all sugar is virtually impossible. There are natural sugars in lots of foods, including fruit and veg, and you don’t need to avoid these.

However, it’s a good idea to cut down on foods with lots of added sugar, such as sweets, cakes, biscuits, non-diet fizzy drinks and chocolates.

Read the facts about sugar.

Iron-rich foods prevent fatigue

Four in 10 (40%) girls and women aged 16-24 and almost half (44%) of girls aged 11-15 have low iron stores, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.

Being low on iron can make you feel tired and faint, and look pale.

While red meats, green vegetables and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals are good sources of iron, the important thing is to eat a range of foods to get enough iron.

Here’s more advice on good sources of iron.

Non-alcoholic drinks boost zest levels

Watch your alcohol intake. It can dehydrate you, which will make you feel tired.

Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids – the government recommends 6-8 glasses every day. This is in addition to the fluid we get from the food we eat. All non-alcoholic drinks count, but water and lower-fat milk are healthier choices.

Read more about healthy drinks.

Eat enough to pack a punch

Make sure you eat the right amount for your activity level. The average man needs around 2,500 calories a day, and the average woman needs 2,000 calories. Remember, we all overestimate how active we are.

Learn how to understand calories.

Self-help tips to fight fatigue

Self-help tips to fight fatiguee
Self-help tips to fight fatigue
Many cases of unexplained tiredness are due to stress, not enough sleep, poor diet and other lifestyle factors. Use these self-help tips to restore your energy levels.

Eat often to beat tiredness

A good way to keep up your energy through the day is to eat regular meals and healthy snacks every three to four hours, rather than a large meal less often.

Read more about healthy eating.

Perk up with exercise

You might feel too tired to exercise, but regular exercise will make you feel less tired in the long run, and you’ll have more energy. Even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity.

Start with a small amount of exercise. Build up your physical activity gradually over weeks and months until you reach the recommended goal of two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.

Read more about starting exercise.

Find out the physical activity guidelines for adults.

Lose weight to gain energy

If your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Lose weight and you’ll feel much more energetic. Apart from eating healthily, the best way to lose weight is to be more active and do more exercise.

Read more about how to lose weight.

Sleep well

It sounds obvious, but two-thirds of us suffer from sleep problems, and many people don’t get the sleep they need to stay alert through the day. The Royal College of Psychiatrists advises going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day; avoid naps through the day, and have a hot bath before bed (as hot as you can bear without scalding you) for at least 20 minutes.

Read more about how to get a good night’s sleep.

Try these NHS-approved sleep apps to help you sleep well.

Reduce stress to boost energy

Stress uses up a lot of energy. Try to introduce relaxing activities into your day. This could be working out at the gym, or a gentler option, such as listening to music, reading or spending time with friends. Whatever relaxes you will improve your energy.

Read more about how to relieve stress.

Talking therapy beats fatigue

There’s some evidence that talking therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might help to fight fatigue. See your GP for a referral for talking treatment on the NHS or for advice on seeing a private therapist.

Read more about counselling.

Cut out caffeine

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that anyone feeling tired should cut out caffeine. It says the best way to do this is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks (this includes coffee, tea and cola drinks) over a three-week period. Try to stay off caffeine completely for a month to see if you feel less tired without it.

You may find that not consuming caffeine gives you headaches. If this happens, cut down more slowly on the amount of caffeine that you drink.

Drink less alcohol

Although a few glasses of wine in the evening helps you fall asleep, you sleep less deeply after drinking alcohol. The next day you’ll be tired, even if you sleep a full eight hours.

Cut down on alcohol before bedtime. You’ll get a better night’s rest and have more energy. The NHS recommends that men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week, which is equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine.

Read more about how to cut down on alcohol.

Drink more water for better energy

Sometimes you feel tired simply because you’re mildly dehydrated. A glass of water will do the trick, especially after exercise.

Read about healthy drinks.

12 tips for a healthy Christmas and Thanksgiving

Tips for a safe Christmas and Thanksgiving
Tips for a safe Christmas and Thanksgiving

From defrosting turkey to using leftovers, these food safety tips will help stop your turkey from knocking the stuffing out of you this Christmas. (and Thanksgiving)

Avoid cross-contamination

Keep all raw food, whether it’s turkey or vegetables, separate from ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination. Use separate chopping boards for raw food and ready-to-eat food. Raw foods can contain harmful bacteria that are spread very easily to anything they touch, including other foods, worktops, chopping boards and knives.

Set the fridge to 5°C

Store food that needs to be chilled in the fridge until you need it. Make sure the fridge temperature is below 5°C. Don’t pack food too tightly, as the cold air needs to circulate to cool food down. If you’re storing food such as fresh vegetables outside in a garage or shed, keep them in a sealed container.

Wash your hands

Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before and after handling food, especially when handling and preparing raw meat and poultry. You also need to remember to wash and dry your hands after going to the toilet, touching the bin or touching any pets. Bugs are spread between food, surfaces and utensils most effectively on wet or damp hands.

Defrost turkey safely

Defrost the turkey on a large dish and cover, preferably in the fridge. Remove the giblets and the neck to speed up thawing. Alternatively, defrost the turkey in a cool, clean place where the temperature is fairly constant. Keep in mind that the temperature of where the turkey is kept will affect thawing times.

Turkey defrosting times

It can take up to 48 hours for a large turkey to thaw. To work out the defrosting time for your turkey, check the packaging. If there aren’t any defrosting instructions, use the following times as a guide:

in a fridge at 4ºC (39ºF), allow about 10 to 12 hours per kg

in a cool room (below 17.5ºC, 64ºF), allow approximately three to four hours per kg

at room temperature (about 20ºC, 68ºF), allow approximately two hours per kg

A turkey is fully defrosted when there are no ice crystals inside the cavity and the meat is soft when you insert a fork or skewer. Once thawed, store it in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. If this isn’t possible, you should cook it immediately.

Don’t wash the bird

Eighty per cent of people say they wash their turkeys before cooking them, but this significantly increases the risk of food poisoning by splashing germs around the kitchen. Don’t wash your bird, because it will only spread germs. Thorough cooking will kill any bacteria that might be present.

Cook turkey properly

Seventeen per cent of people aren’t sure how to tell when their turkey is cooked. Make sure your turkey is steaming hot all the way through before serving. When you cut into the thickest part of the turkey, none of the meat should be pink. If juices flow out when you pierce the turkey or when you press the thigh, they should be clear. If you’re using a temperature probe or food thermometer, ensure that the thickest part of the bird (between the breast and the thigh) reaches at least 70°C for two minutes.

Find out more about turkey cooking times.

Goose and other birds

Other birds, such as goose and duck, have different cooking times and temperatures. The oven should always be hotter for duck and goose in order to melt the fat under the skin.

goose should be cooked in a preheated oven at 200ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 7 for 35 minutes per kg

duck should be cooked in a preheated oven for 45 minutes per kg at 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6

chicken should be cooked in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes

Wash your veg

Most of the bacteria on vegetables will be in the soil attached to the produce. Washing to remove any soil is therefore particularly important. When you wash vegetables, don’t just hold them under the running tap. Rub them under water, for example in a bowl of fresh water. Start with the least soiled items first and give each of them a final rinse. Washing loose produce is particularly important, as it tends to have more soil attached to it than pre-packaged fruit and vegetables.

Know your dates

Sniffing food is not a reliable way of telling whether food is still safe to eat. Some harmful bacteria don’t always change the way foods smell, taste or look. Food with a “use-by” date goes off quite quickly and it can be dangerous to eat after this date. Food with a “best before” date is longer-lasting. It may not be at its best quality after this date but should be safe to eat. Eggs can be eaten a day or two after their best before date, as long as they are cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid, or if they are used in dishes where they will be fully cooked, such as a cake.

Preparing a buffet

Cold items for a buffet should remain covered and in the fridge until the last minute. Don’t keep them out for more than four hours. Food kept out for longer could be open to harmful bacteria if left to get warm at room temperature. Foods which are cooked and intended to be served cold should be cooled as quickly as possible, ideally within one to two hours. You can cool food down faster by separating it into small batches, placing it in a container and placing the container in a shallow dish of cold water.

Cool leftovers

Cool leftovers as quickly as possible, ideally within 90 minutes, then cover and refrigerate. Splitting food into smaller portions can help cooling. Use leftovers within two days and reheat until they are steaming hot all the way through. Don’t reheat leftovers more than once. If you want to keep leftovers longer than two days, you can freeze them instead. Cool leftovers as described above before putting them in the freezer. Once defrosted, don’t refreeze the leftovers unless you cook them again first.

Fibromyalgia – What are the causes of Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness

It’s not clear why some people develop fibromyalgia. The exact cause is unknown, but it’s likely that a number of factors are involved.

Here are some of the main factors thought to contribute to the condition:

Abnormal pain messages

One of the main theories is that people with fibromyalgia have developed changes in the way the central nervous system processes the pain messages carried around the body. This could be due to changes to chemicals in the nervous system.

The central nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) transmits information all over your body through a network of specialised cells. Changes in the way this system works may explain why fibromyalgia results in constant feelings of, and extreme sensitivity to, pain.

Chemical imbalances

Research has found that people with fibromyalgia have abnormally low levels of the hormones serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in their brains.

Low levels of these hormones may be a key factor in the cause of fibromyalgia, as they’re important in regulating things such as:





your response to stressful situations

These hormones also play a role in processing pain messages sent by the nerves. Increasing the hormone levels with medication can disrupt these signals.

Some researchers have also suggested that changes in the levels of some other hormones, such as cortisol (which is released when the body is under stress), may contribute to fibromyalgia.

Sleep problems

It’s possible that disturbed sleep patterns may be a cause of fibromyalgia, rather than just a symptom.

Fibromyalgia can prevent you from sleeping deeply and cause fatigue (extreme tiredness). People with the condition who sleep badly can also have higher levels of pain, suggesting that these sleep problems contribute to the other symptoms of fibromyalgia.


Research has suggested that genetics may play a small part in the development of fibromyalgia, with some people perhaps more likely than others to develop the condition because of their genes.

If this is the case, genetics could explain why many people develop fibromyalgia after some sort of trigger.

Possible triggers

Fibromyalgia is often triggered by a stressful event, including physical stress or emotional (psychological) stress. Possible triggers for the condition include:

an injury

a viral infection

giving birth

having an operation

the breakdown of a relationship

being in an abusive relationship

the death of a loved one

However, in some cases, fibromyalgia doesn’t develop after any obvious trigger.

Associated conditions

There are several other conditions often associated with fibromyalgia. Generally, these are rheumatic conditions (affecting the joints, muscles and bones), such as:

osteoarthritis – when damage to the joints causes pain and stiffness

lupus – when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in various parts of the body

rheumatoid arthritis – when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the joints, causing pain and swelling

ankylosing spondylitis – pain and swelling in parts of the spine

temporomandibular disorder (TMD) – a condition that can cause pain in the jaw, cheeks, ears and temples

Conditions such as these are usually tested for when diagnosing fibromyalgia.

‘Other people may just perceive me as being odd’ – watch this brilliant video on life with autism

Autism and the elements
Autism and the elements

The UK’s NHS have produced a brilliant video on life with autism spectrum disorder. Please watch and share!

[Original article on NHS Choices website]