Last updated on Feb 11th, 2021 at 08:47 am

By Nutritionist Hannah Kaye

Good nutrition is essential in boosting energy levels and promoting vitality. Ideally, your diet should centre around organic vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds and wild-caught, cold-water fish, to provide all the necessary nutrients for optimal health. It’s easy to forget these key principles when you’re pregnant or running around after an energetic toddler, but you need to make looking after yourself a priority because your family needs you to be healthy.

Stabilise your energy levels

  • An important principle of healthy eating is maintaining and balancing blood sugar levels. The best way to do this is to include a protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat in your meals. For example, at breakfast you could have a boiled egg and a slice of rye toast. The egg counts as protein and fat, while the toast is your carbohydrate. This type of food combination will stabilise your energy levels throughout the day.
  • It’s important to feed your cells the nutrients they need for energy production. This means making clever food choices as opposed to quick food choices. Usually, ‘clever’ just means fresh and wholesome, as opposed to boxed and refined.

Top 10 energy foods for moms

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Butternut
  • Chickpeas
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Onions
  • Quinoa

How to boost energy levels through nutrition during pregnancy

Anything we eat is considered energy, but for sustained energy, look for foods that provide plenty of nutrients and energy-boosting substances, rather than high-sugar, low-nutrition foods that deliver a quick energy rush.

This is often easier said than done, because when we’re tired and low on energy, it’s easy to be tempted by fast food, sweets and chocolates. However, these are exactly the types of foods that tax our systems and tire us out even further.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

6 tips to help you to sustain your energy levels:

  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. You need the vitamins and minerals vegetables provide for energy production.
  • Include wholegrains like brown rice and wholegrain pasta. Avoid refined, white starches – these tend to be high in sugar and low in nutrients.
  • Eat protein with every meal and in your snacks, since all of your body systems are built on the amino acids that proteins provide. Opt for lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds.
  • Enjoy good fats and don’t be afraid of them. Olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and oily fish provide your brain and cell membranes with the flexibility they require to function normally.
  • Drink lots of water. Dehydration is a common cause of fatigue. Aim for at least two litres per day.
  • Although it seems counter-intuitive, there’s nothing like exercise to give you an energy boost. Go for a brisk twenty-minute walk – you’ll feel much better afterwards.

How to eat for energy when you’re running around after a toddler

Moms often complain they don’t have time to eat properly, yet they feel drained of energy, and as time goes by, they focus less on their own health. You become more fatigued and even less capable of preparing a healthy meal for yourself. Remember that caring for yourself will allow you to care better for your child.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean preparing meals in a complicated, time-consuming manner. All it means is following basic principles and eating foods that are high in energy-producing nutrients.

  • Eat five meals a day – three main meals and two snacks. This will stabilise your blood sugar levels, giving you more energy, for longer.
  • Always check what you’re eating and ask yourself: where’s the protein?
  • Before you switch on the kettle to make another cup of coffee, remind yourself that it will only increase your stress levels over the next few hours. Opt for herbal tea or diluted vegetable juices instead.
  • Avoid grabbing a handful of biscuits. Rather have a small handful of nuts or seeds. These contain both protein and fat, and will keep you fuller for longer.
  • Watch your alcohol intake, as too much alcohol decreases your B vitamins, which you need for energy production. If you do have a drink at the end of the day, opt for a glass of red wine since it’s high in antioxidants. Obviously, alcohol should be avoided if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Eating for energy meal plan

Breakfast
Smoothie made with a small banana, a handful of blueberries, pumpkin seeds and a tablespoon of plain yoghurt.

Morning snack
A quarter of an avocado on two brown rice cakes.

Lunch
A salad with salad leaves and dark green leafy vegetable like spinach or broccoli, a boiled egg, lentils and a olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

Afternoon snack
Hummus with vegetable sticks or slices.

Dinner
Flaked salmon stir-fry, with sweet potato, quinoa, bokchoi and spinach, topped with sunflower seeds.