Advertising
Advertising

Published on May 10, 2018

What Is Clean Eating (Essential Tips + Clean Eating Meal Plan)

What Is Clean Eating (Essential Tips + Clean Eating Meal Plan)

Living a healthy life begins in the kitchen! According to a recent study, over 50% of deaths from heart diseases and diabetes are associated with unhealthy diet.[1] So, what you eat is far more important than how you exercise.

But let’s face it – the deed is done! You’ve gotten yourself into some unhealthy eating habits and now you’ve gained plenty of weight. How do you move out of this unfavorable position into a healthier state? I’ve got just two words for you – clean eating.

Many people desire to lose weight, so, they try out every workout routine they could find on the internet or hit the cycling class next door. But research has shown that 75% of your weight loss exploits depends on your diet.[2] If you are going to succeed in your weight-loss quest and achieve the body of your dreams, it goes beyond hitting the gym night and day… you need to start paying proper attention to clean eating.

Perhaps you’re not an overweight middle-aged man or woman, you just want to live a healthier life. Then read on my friend… this article is just for you.

This guide will tell you what exactly is clean eating an why it is great for you to stay fit and healthy. And as a bonus, you’ll also have access to a sample clean eating meal plan, to get you started. So, be sure to stick around till the end.

What is clean eating

Clean eating, this buzz word has been thrown around a lot in recent times and many have been left confused as per what it actually means. Some say it means total abstinence from all processed food a.k.a. eating only raw food every day… all day! But does that mean you have to resort to the caveman eating style and consume your rice and beans exactly as delivered by nature in order to eat clean? Certainly not!

Clean eating means staying away from highly processed foods (think fries, chips, sugary stuff – yuck!) and refocusing your attention on consuming whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods more often (thinks brown rice, fruits and veggies – yummy!).

Rather than focusing on eating more or less of some specific food groups (e.g., less carbs/more protein), the idea of clean eating revolves around being mindful of the food’s processing pathway between the farm and your fork.

Now you need to pay attention to something, the focus of clean eating is consuming whole foods in their natural state (where possible) or their least processed state, such that no essential nutrient is lost via processing. Clean eating doesn’t mean staying away from all processed food, just the highly processed ones. After all, cooking is also a form of processing.

Why are highly-processed foods so bad?

There are so many problems associated with highly-processed foods — from excessive weight gain to risk of cardio-vascular diseases. To start with, foods that have been highly processed have been stripped of essential nutrients required for maintaining overall health.

The bulk of what you get from these foods is an excessive amount of unrequired calories without the corresponding amounts of proteins and micro-nutrients (which are far more important). The result, of course, is an imbalanced nutritional profile in your body and that predisposes you to a “truck-load” of diseases!

In addition to this, ultra-processed foods also contain additives (such as refined sugars, preservatives, unhealthy Trans fats etc.,) that tend to stimulate the pleasure neurotransmitter (dopamine), resulting in an insatiable craving for more junk food.

This infographic has said it all:[3]

    How processed is highly processed?

    When nutrients are removed from food and undesirable ingredients are added as a result of processing, such foods are highly processed. Refined flour, for instance is highly processed because the bran and germ layers (which contain fibre and other micro nutrients) have been removed during processing and that’s really bad news!

    In essence, the emphasis of clean eating is caring about the ingredients in your food and cutting the C.R.A.P (Chemicals, Refined flour/sugar, Artificial colors/sweeteners/flavors and Preservatives) out of your diet.

    However, clean eating doesn’t mean avoidance of all packaged foods. In some cases, packaged foods have essential nutrients added to them — a process called fortification. For instance, iodide is added to salt to ward off goiterism and milk is fortified with vitamin D to prevent rickets in children. But if a packaged food contains some ingredients that don’t exactly roll off the tongue, it’s most likely bad for you.

    There’s a long list of foods that you can incorporate into your clean diet, but here’s a few to get you started:

    • Veggies and Fruits (Fresh over frozen) e.g. bananas, apple, orange, cucumber etc.
    • Eggs
    • Nuts
    • Fresh/unprocessed lean meat e.g. poultry, pork, fish etc.
    • Unrefined grains e.g. whole wheat pasta and bread, steel-cut oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, and quinoa.
    • Oils e.g. extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil etc.
    • Dried legumes
    • Hormone-free dairy

    Benefits of clean eating (that will surprise you)

    Clean eating comes with a plethora of benefits — from weight loss, to a glowing skin, to reduced risk of diabetes and a long list of other amazing perks. Let’s start with how clean eating can help with weight loss.

    Advertising

    1. Help you lose weight

    The fact that clean eating can help you in your weight loss journey has been well documented by several research studies. And there are so many reasons why this is so. Here are a few:

    • It’s rich in micro-nutrients. This means two things for you: improvement in nutritional deficiency and reduction in hunger. In one study of 786 people, it was observed that over 80% of the participants felt fuller after taking meals on a high-micronutrient diet compared to those on a low-micronutrient diet, even though they consumed fewer calories.[4] This calorie deficit coupled with the balanced nutritional profile allows your body to switch from fat storage mode to fat burning mode.
    • It’s loaded with protein. Whole foods are usually higher in protein and lower in calories compared to ultra-processed foods. For instance 3.5 ounces of pork (a clean food option) contains only 21 grams of protein and 145 calories, while it’s processed counterpart bacon (of the same weight) contains only 12 grams of protein and 458 calories. Protein is basically the most important nutrient when it comes to weight loss.[5] Not only does it increase metabolism, it also reduces hunger and controls the production of weight-regulating hormones. This makes it your best bet for weight loss.
    • Whole foods contain more soluble fiber. Soluble fiber comes with a lot of health benefits, one of which is enhancing weight loss.[6] It forms a thick gel after mixing with water in the gut and this slows down the movement of food through the alimentary canal. This process suppresses the production of hunger-inducing hormones while simultaneously boosting the production of hormones that make you feel full.[7] This calorie deficit, in turn, results in weight loss.

    There are several other reasons why clean eating helps with weight loss, but that deserves an entire article on its own. So, let’s move on to other benefits that clean eating has to offer.

    2. Reduce the risk of cancer

    So you want to live a long, healthy, cancer-free life, right? Then eating clean is the way to go. Several studies have shown a positive correlation between clean eating and prevention of different cancer types including breast[8] and colon cancers.[9]

    3. Reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease

    Cardiovascular diseases have been notoriously killing Americans over the years. These diseases are usually linked to high bad-cholesterol levels and this problem can be fixed by simply switching so a clean diet.

    Research has shown that by consuming 3 portions of whole grain meals on a daily basis, the risk of developing high blood pressure or heart disease is significantly reduced.[10] If you want a healthy heart and a properly functioning cardiovascular system, you need to break up with junk food and switch to clean eating.

    4. Boost the immune system

    The immune system is one critical system in your body that should always function at maximum capacity. That is, of course, if you want to live a consistently healthy life. Here’s the good news – clean eating can help you achieve just that.

    By eating 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits per day, the body’s antibody response can be improved by up to 82 percent.[11] If you want to maintain a kickass system that knocks infections out of your body regularly, clean eating is the way to go.

    5. Make your skin glow

    If you are looking for a healthy, fresh and glowing skin, you don’t necessarily need to spend hundreds of dollars on cosmetics. All you need is a clean diet. Whole foods are known to contain high amounts of antioxidants, healthy fats and other nutrients which play huge roles in giving you a radiant and healthy skin.

    6. Prevent or reverse diabetes

    The fact that diabetes is a groundbreaking menace is a well-established truth. As a matter of fact, over 750,000 Americans lose their lives to diabetes per year.[12] You don’t have to be one of them. All you need to do is to start eating clean. Previous research studies have shown that by committing yourself to whole-plant-based diets, you can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes.[13]

    Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s move on to how you can actually start reaping these benefits by eating clean.

    How to kick-start clean eating (a step-by-step guide)

    When undergoing any major lifestyle change, you can be sure of one thing – it won’t be easy! The same is true when you are looking to ditch sugar-packed junk foods for a not-so-slick clean diet. This is where the true test of character will come in.

    Follow the tips below in your clean eating journey and you’ll arrive at your desired destination in health.

    1. Identify why you are doing this

    It can be quite difficult to break a habit that has been a part of you for a long time. It’s like climbing a mountain! If you’ll stand any chance of sticking to this new change in lifestyle, then you must understand why you’re making the change in the first place.

    Various research studies have shown that the best form of motivation that inspires a positive change originates from within.[14] Switching to a clean diet simply because someone said you should isn’t a sustainable motivation in the long run.

    You have to be intellectual and intentional about your decision and not merely emotional. So, identify the reason and tell yourself “this is why I’m switching to clean eating and there’s no going back!” This will take some time to get used to though, so go easy on yourself.

    2. Get ready to commit time

    You need to sit down and determine how much time you are willing to commit to this new lifestyle — from grocery shopping, to meal planning, to cooking and yes, you totally should start cooking.

    Are you going to cut out some TV time so you can prepare a healthy lunch instead of ordering pizza? You need to carve out specific number of minutes or hours per day towards your clean eating goal. This is a major step for success.

    3. Set simple and measurable goals

    The next thing you need to do is to set simple and measurable goals for yourself. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, so, ditch it! Measurable goals, though very simple will assure you whether you are on the right track or not.

    For instance, if you happen to love eating cookies so much, saying “I will stop eating many cookies” is too broad and too subjective for you to measure. I mean, how much is many? A dozen? Twenty?

    Advertising

    Rather, you could say “I will only eat one cookie per day and keep the rest in the freezer” or better still you could say “I’m going to stop eating cookies completely and eat fruits instead.” Keeping your goals simple and straight-to-the-point is a major criterion for success.

    4. Get rid of all the bad stuff

    The next step is a pretty radical one. You need to carefully assess your current diet and list out every “unclean” food your body adores and deliberately take an action against them. You need to clean out all artificial/ultra-processed foods from your pantry or refrigerator. If you’re having a hard time doing it all at once, you can do it a little at a time until it’s all cleaned out.

    5. Introduce the clean stuff

    Getting rid of the bad stuff won’t mean anything if you don’t introduce the good stuff. As you gradually eliminate artificial foods from your kitchen, you need to gradually replace them with clean foods. You can start with fruits and veggies, and then add cereals and legumes as you go along.

    6. Start with a clean breakfast

    As I stated earlier, this might take some time – trust me! But there’s no need to hurry or panic. If you’re crunched for time and you can’t imagine yourself spending hours in the kitchen, you can start with a daily clean breakfast. Start your day with a glass of green smoothie and some fruits. Do it for a week or two and the idea of a clean lunch/dinner will become more interesting.

    Here’re some nice smoothie ideas for you: 30+ Flavorful Green Smoothie Recipes That You Can Make In Less Than 5 Minutes

    7. Stop eating when you’re full

    One beautiful thing about a clean diet is that it makes you feel full fast, without you having to consume the awful lot of calories that junk-food equivalent offers. If you’re not sure how much you should be eating, you should stop eating once your stomach begins to give you the “all-good” signal.

    8. Become label-savvy

    Here’s the deal – you need to start paying attention to product labels and what it says. You need to watch out for overly artificial ingredients in your groceries. If a food item has ingredients you can’t seem to pronounce, that’s a good sign you need to return it right back to the shelf. Be sure to stick to food products with all-natural ingredients.

    9. Patronize local food vendors

    Now, this is my favorite option when it comes to purchasing food items – the local sellers, those who sell the raw, unadulterated food stuff. This, of course, is the best if you can spare the time. Getting your fruits, veggies and other foods from the guys who get it from the farm will avail you of the maximum level of nutrients such foods have to offer. So, please go for it.

    10. Start cooking something… anything

    If you really want to achieve your clean eating goal, here’s a solemn truth – you need to start cooking your own food. Even if it’s just a bunch of veggies that don’t taste fantastic, you need to start somewhere. But I’m a terrible cook, you might say. Well, so was I! I had to learn too, but it definitely paid off. Get on your apron and get to work, buddy.

    11. Drink a gallon of water per day

    You’ve probably heard how too much of everything is bad, right? Well, not for water – you could never go wrong with this one! Water does your body a whole lot of good and it also aids proper digestion. So, aim to drink half-a-gallon to a gallon of water per day. Your body will thank you for it.

    12. Use a clean eating meal plan

    If you’re really going to get the best out of your clean diet program, then you need a meal plan, preferably one with specific calorie goals.

    If weight-loss is your goal, then you should target 10 calories per pound of your desired body weight. If you’re looking to slim down to 150 pounds, for instance, you should target a daily intake of 1500 calories.

    A simple clean eating meal plan

    This simple 3-day clean eating plan is just to give you an idea of how this works and to get you started right away. You can tweak it around as you please, to meet your specific calorie goals. For a more comprehensive clean-eating meal plan, tailored towards your specific needs, you can talk to your dietitian or search the web.

    Day 1

    Breakfast (260 calories)

    Enjoy 1 Tablespoon of dry-roasted, unsalted almonds with 3/4 cup of green smoothie. Check out the video below on how to make one:

    Morning Snack (70 calories)

    2 clementines

    Lunch (345 calories)

    Garden Salad with a toast of avocado and egg

      Steps

      Advertising

      • Take one slice of sprouted-grain bread and combine it with mashed ¼ part of a medium-sized avocado.
      • Cook one large egg in 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil.
      • Add a pinch of pepper and salt to season the egg.
      • For the salad, use 1/2 cup of mixed greens together with 2 Tablespoons of grated carrot and 1/2 cup of cucumber slices.
      • You can top the salad with 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, each.

      Evening Snack (48 calories)

      Dried apricots (6)

      Dinner (458 calories)

      Steamed Asparagus with Quinoa and Chicken

        Steps

        • Cook 5 oz. of chicken breast in 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
        • Add 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa and drizzle it with 1/2 Tablespoon each of lemon juice and olive oil.
        • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
        • Combine this with 10 steamed asparagus spears and munch away.

        Day 2

        Breakfast (265 calories)

        Combine one cup of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup of blueberries and 1/4 cup of muesli.

        Enjoy the goodness.

        Morning Snack (32 calories)

        Munch 1 plum and go your way.

        Lunch (325 calories)

        Veggie Sandwich

          Steps

          • Take 2 slices of bread made from sprouted-grain.
          • Mash the quarter part of a medium-sized avocado combined with 1 tablespoon of hummus.
          • Garnish with any vegetable of your choice (tomato, carrot, cucumber etc.), and enjoy a nutritious meal.

          Evening Snack (86 calories)

          Munch on 4 walnut halves and 4 apricot halves and top it with lots of water.

          Dinner (490 calories)

          Roast Chicken & Fennel with 1/2 cup of brown rice

          Advertising

            Get the recipe here: Roast Chicken & Fennel

            Day 3

            Breakfast (250 calories)

            Egg-Avocado Toast

              Take one slice of sprouted-grain bread. Combine it with mashed ¼ part of a medium-sized avocado. Cook one large egg in 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil. Season the egg with a pinch of pepper and salt. Garnish with 2 slices of tomato and enjoy the goodness.

              Morning Snack (161 calories)

              Devour 1/2 cup of dry-roasted, unsalted pistachios and get on with the day.

              Lunch (336 calories)

              Chickpea & Veggie Salad

                Steps

                • Get two cups of mixed greens.
                • Combine it with 3/4 cup of veggies of your choice (you can try tomatoes and cucumbers).
                • Rinse 1/2 cup of chickpeas and mix with 1/2 Tablespoon of chopped walnuts and 1 Tbsp. of feta cheese (crumbled).
                • Combine all ingredients and top the salad with one tablespoon each of olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

                Evening Snack (111 calories)

                Measure 1/4 cup of dry-roasted, unsalted pistachios (in shell) and enjoy with one plum.

                Dinner (430 calories)

                Enjoy 3/4 cup of brown rice with 1 serving of Green Beans and Poached Cod with Pesto.

                  Summing it up

                  Nothing is going to happen in your life unless you make it happen! So, don’t just sit there! Rise up, break up with junk food and get to work on your clean diet.

                  Start somewhere. Replace refined sugars with natural sweeteners, cook potatoes instead of ordering pizza, have a cup of green smoothie instead of alcohol. With one step at a time, you’ll definitely get there!

                  The next time someone asks you what is clean eating; don’t reply them with words only – show them! Let them see exactly what clean foods are — from your kitchen cabinet and your refrigerator.

                  Also, remember to constantly remind yourself of why you’re doing this and take it one day at a time. At the beginning of this clean eating journey, the road might seem rough. But as you persist, it’ll get easier, I promise. In the end, a slim body and a long healthy life will be your reward.

                  You’ve got this!

                  Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

                  Reference

                  More by this author

                  Richard Adefioye

                  Richard has a unique passion for healthy living and productivity.

                  15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine 5 Killer Stomach Workouts for Impressive Abs How Fat Kids Are Made by Parents (And How to Make Your Kids Healthy) How to Prevent Child Obesity and Help Your Child Stay Healthy What Is Clean Eating (Essential Tips + Clean Eating Meal Plan)

                  Trending in Physical Strength

                  1 How to Gain Muscle Fast (The Healthy And Natural Way) 2 These 13 Leg Stretches Will Prevent Pain and Injury During Exercise 3 7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance 4 The Ultimate 5-Day Workout Routine for Women to Get Strong and Toned 5 The Ultimate Workout Routine for Men (Tailored for Different Fitness Level)

                  Read Next

                  Advertising
                  Advertising

                  Published on November 14, 2018

                  Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                  Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                  With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                  For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                  In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                  Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                  Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                  It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                  For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                  Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                  Symptoms of Fatigue

                  Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                  • mental blocks
                  • lack of motivation
                  • headache
                  • dizziness
                  • muscle weakness
                  • slowed reflexes and responses
                  • impaired decision-making and judgement
                  • moodiness, such as irritability
                  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                  • reduced immune system function
                  • blurry vision
                  • short-term memory problems
                  • poor concentration
                  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                  Causes of Fatigue

                  The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                  Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                  Medical Causes of Fatigue

                  If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                  Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                  Anemia

                  Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                  Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                  There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

                  Advertising

                  This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                  Diabetes

                  Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                  Sleep Apnea

                  Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                  Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                  Thyroid disease

                  An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                  Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                  • Lack of sleep
                  • Too much sleep 
                  • Alcohol and drugs 
                  • Sleep disturbances 
                  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                  • Poor diet 

                  Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                  Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                  Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                  How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                  Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                  1. Tell The Truth

                  Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                  To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                  Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                  The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                  One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                  • How you feel
                  • What time of day it is
                  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                  • How your mind and body reacts

                  This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                  2. Reduce Your Commitments

                  When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

                  Advertising

                  If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                  When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                  Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                  3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                  If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                  Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                  If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                  Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                  Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                  4. Express More Gratitude

                  Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                  It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                  Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                  5. Focus On Yourself

                  Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                  There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                  But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                  We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                  6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                  Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

                  Advertising

                  Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                  The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                  Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                  7. Take a Power Nap

                  When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                  Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                  This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                  8. Take More Exercise

                  The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                  Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                  The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                  You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                  9. Get More Quality Sleep

                  To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                  Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                  My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                  10. Improve Your Diet

                  Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                  Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                  On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

                  Advertising

                  To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                  Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                  Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                  11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                  Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                  When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                  Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                  My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                  12. Get Hydrated

                  Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                  Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                  If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                  The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                  The Bottom Line

                  These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                  If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                  Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                  [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                  [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                  [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                  [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                  [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

                  Read Next