When you have an infant, you can never completely count on a good night's sleep. We've been blessed with a pretty terrific little sleeper. She'll often sleep through the night, for 12 hours straight However, she also has bouts of teething that interrupt her sleep for several days in a row. We're in the middle of a teething episode now. Those two upper, front teeth have been bugging her constantly!
As it happens, Sienna is also going through a bit of a mommy-phase right now. She wants me to hold her all the time, and certainly won't let Dennis rock her during the night. Although I love her little "mama" coos, it's a bit draining when she's teething and waking up once or twice a night. We are having sweet quality time during the wee morning hours, but during the day, while at work, I'm definitely tired.
Whether you have an infant at home or are just a typical American who tries to fit too much into each day, we all end up feeling run down from time to time. When people are low on energy, they instinctively try to find a way to get a boost, or a "pick me up" as we say when we look for energy in food or caffeine. The truth is, when you don't have energy, sometimes it's difficult to tell if food can supply the needed improvement or if you're just simply tired.
Lately I've been thinking about how to differentiate between tiredness and hunger, so that I can make smart food choices even when I'm exhausted!
First, I made the obvious realization that tiredness can masquerade as hunger! Just being aware that I'm tired and therefore my inhibitions toward food are compromised helped me to think twice before I visited the office vending machine in the afternoon. What my body really needs is rest, not food. Since we can't always rest during the day, other good sources of energy, like taking a quick walk outside, or just interacting with a coworker for a few minutes can help raise one's energy level.
The most helpful tip for eating well, despite a lack of rest, is planning your meals and having healthy food on hand during the day. I've been cooking most of our weekly meals on Sunday afternoon, so that our evenings are less chaotic. I'll usually prep some type of egg dish for my breakfasts and salmon or another protein source for lunches during the workweek. Each day I pack a banana and natural peanut butter to enjoy with my morning coffee at my desk. I'll bring some cut up vegetables and a piece of fruit or some yogurt and granola for an afternoon snack. Finally, I'll always have a couple granola bars or a Larabar in my bag in case I'm particularly hungry or have a low blood sugar.
Having these kinds of food handy makes it much easier to eat well. Also, food takes very little thought during the day, because I already know what I'm going to eat. It simplifies things when you're tired and need one less thing to stress about. I'm particularly noted that having perishable fruits and veggies with me at work helps me to avoid going out to eat or abandoning my meal plan for other food that pops up at our office. I don't want that food going bad because I didn't eat it when I'd planned.
For more information on a healthy, balanced diet check out these resources!