Women, Increase Your Energy While Touring New York City
>> Dr. Rebecca Booth, author of The Venus Week, and I discussed the issue of how women can maintain or increase their energy level while touring exhausting places like New York City (see Venus Week in New York City Is When Women Feel Their Best). I tried several of her suggestions and found that they were very effective!
This article reflects Dr. Booth's tips and expands upon them, but does not quote or paraphrase her book. As a long-time traveler and former educator, I am knowledgeable about the effect of food on energy levels. Dr. Booth's book discusses how eating impacts female hormonal levels (not discussed here), which, in turn, increases energy. For more information, read The Venus Week.
Traveling makes it difficult to be careful about what you eat, and consequently, the demands of travel can make you feel sluggish. I suggest that a remedy for this problem is to munch on homemade snacks throughout the day, assemble a few simple meals in your hotel room, picnic at one New York City's Privately Owned Public Spaces (very pleasurable during the warm months), and dine in a restaurant just once a day.
- For maximum energy, strive to keep your insulin levels stable: An elevated insulin level (which can lead to diabetes) dulls your thinking, can lead to confusion, and slows physical responses. Insulin elevation is caused by digesting too much sugar and carbohydrates at a time.
For more information about the effect of protein and carbohydrates on your mind, read the first chapter of the 1998 book, "Managing Your Mind and Mood Through Food," by Judith Wurtman. Ms. Wurtman teaches that if you eat protein prior to a small amount of carbohydrates, you'll stay alert. If you eat carbohydrates before eating a protein, or overwhelm your meals with carbohydrates, you decrease your alertness and you become groggy.
Managing Your Mind and Mood Through Food is a useful book to read if you tend to be depressed, or are having trouble concentrating on homework.
- Always eat breakfast, but not a typical American breakfast: Breakfasts consisting of cereal, toast, pop-ups, pancakes, muffins, and other grain-and-sugar combinations make you feel sluggish. You might not realize how poorly you feel until you compare those feelings against how you feel after eating a morning meal primarily consisting of protein (eggs, fish, meat, nuts, and/or vegetable protein).
When on a trip, consider eating breakfasts that contain a small amount smoked salmon, pickled herring, tinned sardines, or canned tuna on a slice of thin cheese, or eat hummus piled on hard boiled egg whites. Packaged ham, chicken, or turkey slices on cheese will also work. These ingredients are easy to obtain and can be assembled in a hotel room.
- Reduce or eliminate sugar: Sugar, combined with fat and flour (think "muffins"), and sugar-based soda are highly addicting. Eating or drinking quantities of these types of foods throughout the day elevates insulin levels.
- Reduce or eliminate salty snacks: Salt is addictive and makes you want to consume more salty foods, followed by more beverages than you need. In women especially, this causes water retention, bloat, and crankiness.
Snack on unsalted walnuts, almonds, peanuts, or other nuts. Buy large packages of nuts, then mix and re-package them in small bags to carry while you walk around. Because these nuts are not salted, you are likely to eat them in moderation.
- Cheese of any type makes a great snack: Cheese is a high-protein, calcium-rich food that helps keep your insulin level stable when eaten with other foods. Use thin sliced cheese as a wrap for meat or fish, instead of pita, tortillas, or bread. Eat cheese paired with walnuts or apples for a quick energy boost.
- Eat more plant proteins, such as nuts and legumes: Plant proteins (like chickpeas found in hummus, nut butters, and soy products) come from the reproductive portions of plans and help support women's estrogen levels.
Hummus is exceptionally easy to obtain in New York. Unfortunately, packaged hummus is often dry. To revive, mix lemon juice into it for a fresh, homemade taste. Eat hummus on flat bread, hardboiled egg whites, or on vegetable chips, such as can be made by slicing apples, cucumbers, and carrots.
- Snack on energy (protein) bars: The protein in an energy bar comes from peanut butter. Dr. Booth advises that the bars should have at least 5 grams of protein, with less than 5 grams of sugar.
- Eat more fish: Fish (canned or not) will help control your insulin level and increase your consumption of healthy, Omega 3 fats.
Without a doubt, fish is "brain food." Dr. Booth recommends canned sardines, which are very easy to pack. Smoked salmon and pickled herring need refrigeration, but come in easy to handle packages, and canned fishes, like sardines and tuna, are convenient. Eat fish on sliced cheese or flat bread.
- Snack on apples, berries, cherries, and pears: Low-sugar fruits help stabilize your insulin levels. High-sugar fruits and large quantities of dried fruit cause insulin levels to rise and energy to fall. Even low-sugar fruits by themselves can cause your insulin to spike, so pair them with nuts and/or cheese.
To add interest to nuts, add a very small amount of raisins and dried berries to your non-salted nut mixture. Don't, however, eat dried fruit by the handfuls if you want to stay alert.
- Don't drink fruit juice unless it is served in a tiny "juice" glass: Eat the whole fruit, rather than drink a 6 or 8 ounce glass of it. Standard glasses of orange juice contain more sugar than soda! For a satisfying snack, pair orange slices with walnuts.
- Eat fabulous ice cream and street fair smoothies: Yes, there are times when digesting a massive amount of sugar might be required. If so, first eat protein, such as nuts, to minimize the impact, and then, order only small sizes. If you do become very tired after consuming your treat, relax for an hour or so, or return to your hotel room to take a nap.
- Eat very dark chocolate: Chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 to 85% is an excellent addition to a woman's diet and you don't need much more than an ounce to feel satisfied! Pair high cocoa content chocolate with nuts, but don't worry about gobbling. The higher the coca percentage, the less sweet the chocolate is.
As a traveler, I find that one nice restaurant meal a day is enough for my digestion and budget. Regularly dining out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is overwhelming and can quickly lead to indigestion, sluggishness, and the terrible feeling of getting nothing for your money.
Summary - Magic Foods for Female Travelers:
- Unsalted nuts of all types. Eat them alone or paired with other foods. To help stabilize insulin, eat nuts prior to snacking ice cream or smoothies. Once you start adding unsalted nuts to your diet, you'll find that over time, you'll reduce your appetite. And remember, no salt, no bloat!
- Protein - animal or vegetable (such as hummus). As noted above, hummus has an added value for women in that it supports estrogen.
- Cheese - thin sliced or thick. Pair cheese with all other foods, including fruit, nuts, and fish.
- Energy bars - satisfying, easy to carry, and relatively economical.
Keep snacking simple and your belly full, but not loaded! If you need to take a nap following a full meal, you've eaten and spent way too much on all of the wrong things.
Questions? Ask Karen at Karen@littleviews.com
Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 4/26/2009. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.