I’ve recently had the incredible fortune to be hired by my dream company. In the one week I had to transition from my previous role and work schedule to my new one, I spent time preparing my mental game, as well as my nutritional game. The right eats can help prepare you for just about anything life throws at you.
Brown rice, tuna and seaweed rolls for snack
The first thing I wanted to get in order was my sleep. I was previously working any manner of shifts as a Healthcare Consultant for a Natural Grocer. This meant sometimes late nights, sometimes early (ish) mornings. I’ve now transitioned into regular working hours, but with 6am wake ups…a time when I was still deep in dream land previously. When regulating your sleep schedule it’s important to make gradual adjustments to help the pineal gland reset with ease. Remember, shocking the body is stressful, and puts it into alarm mode (or restlessness), and produces excess hormones to combat the dramatic adjustment (such as cortisol). Slow and steady wins the race. I gave myself some therapeutic assistance through a (natural) nightly sleep aid, which I chose for the following reasons:
- Valerian: Improves the rate at which you fall asleep
- Skullcap: Relieves nervous tension
- Passion Flower: Helps you to feel relaxed
- Hops: A mild sedative
Tryptophan rich salad
I also amped up my meals containing tryptophan (an amino acid), by making loaded salads like the one to the left. Tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin and serotonin, neurotransmitters responsible for your relaxation and sleep cycles. Food sources such as turkey, cottage cheese, chicken, eggs, red meat, soy, and nuts contain moderate amounts of tryptophan. It’s important to know that tryptophan competes with other amino acids for absorption, so while many meat/protein based sources are great for higher levels of tryptophan, eating these in combination with a moderate amount of complex carbohydrate will actually help to reduce the competition from the other amino acids by way of “distraction” (via the insulin release). I opted for quinoa, feta, chicken and spinach with red peppers for my Vit C and Iron too.
The next thing I needed to do was prep a whole bunch of freezer foods. This included baking, granola’s, and soups. We all know how easy it is to make poor meal choices when we’re tired at the end of a long day. I find it really beneficial to minimize your time input, and maximize your feasting output by spending one evening, or a weekend morning prepping a bunch of recipes and leftovers. You only have to clean up once, you can get other things done while soups are simmering and muffins baking, and I really do find creating in the kitchen satisfying and relaxing. I made a couple of soups, one using the broth from a roast a day earlier (and added brown rice and braised onions), and another from steamed broccoli (use the magnesium rich water from steaming as the broth), avocado, coconut milk, pumpkin and curry spices. I blended this last one in the blender to make a smooth consistency.
Don't mind the shadows...this soup has nothing to hide!
It turned out amazing. When we defrosted it a week later, I topped it with black beans and added a spoonful of barley to each bowl for a complete meal. On my baking frenzy I made up pumpkin muffins (no autumn theme here at all…) and gluten free brownies (aha, that’s right. Decadence is a must for the hard working!). I may or may not have enjoyed a few shots of Bailey’s while I baked.
A new breakfast inspiration allowed me to get innovative with my eggs (which when you eat them as often as I do, you’re always on the lookout for new ideas). If I could remember the original source (I found the image inspiration on Pinterest) I would route you there, but instead I’ll lure you with my own imagery. Eggs (over easy helps maximize the available lecithin in the yolks…a phospholipid beneficial to a healthy cholesterol balance), pan fried inside a slice of pepper! Vit C, protein, and if you use coconut oil to fry as I do, your getting medium chain triglycerides which boost metabolism by helping the body to preferentially burn fat for energy.
Protein is your source for amino acids, and amino acids are the catalysts for a plethora of bodily reactions (energy, hormones etc…). In choosing high quality proteins such as free range poultry, whole grains (barley, brown rice, quinoa), legumes, nuts, seeds, organic dairy products, ocean wise sea critters, and grass fed beef, you create solid, functional building blocks. Remember, the body saves nutrients for later use, just as it accumulates toxins. That’s why it’s important to look at the cumulative effect of your food intake, and maintain balanced eating habits over the long term.
It inevitably became Sunday night, and as I now do religiously each night, I made up a power lunch. Packing your lunch before your first day of work at a Natural Health Company is a slightly nerve wracking experience. I know now no one would have “judged” me, but I made certain to have a super healthy lunch packed
This included: steamed kale, roasted spicy chicken with quinoa and olives (left), and diced apple, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, and cocoa roasted chickpeas (right). I am in LOVE with the apple/chickpea snack creation. I had it twice more this week. The recipe for the chickpeas can be found HERE.
So with that, I’m on Thursday night…my enthusiasm is still strong, my adaptation to a new routine was in my opinion a success, and while I’m still figuring out what eating times work best for my body on my current schedule, I am feeling pretty darn good. Might also be because of this…
Bailey's, and the begging steps of a pumpkin muffin escapade...