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We all need a boost of energy from time to time, especially during the busy holiday season.

To those folks planning on washing down a few shortbread cookies with a pint of eggnog, you best do some fact checking to confirm which foods actually give you energy.

Fun fact: none of the best energy foods contain sugar additives of any kind.  Good news, if you don’t see your holiday goodies in the same light anymore, there’s still plenty of time to wrap them up as gifts.

Carrie Walder, fitness enthusiast and registered dietitian who holds a Master’s of Science in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, gives her take here on some key energy foods along with some thoughtful food gift ideas.

“During the holiday season, I like to turn to seasonal, complex carbohydrates to give me a steady source of energy,”

Walder began.  “Carbs are our bodies preferred source of fuel, and there are plenty of seasonal, fibre-rich carbs to choose from during this time of the year! In the morning, I love making a warm bowl of steel cut oatmeal.”

He continues “For lunch or dinner, I’ll have roasted sweet potatoes or roasted winter squash (delicata, butternut, acorn, etc.) paired with leafy greens (my favorite winter green is lacinato kale) and a source of protein.

For snacks, I love a handful of toasted nuts (especially pecans), or homemade energy balls – both these options are easy to bring on the go!,” says Walder.

She adds, “Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of healthy fats and plant-based protein. I always try to purchase them raw rather than roasted or salted, which can unnecessarily add inflammatory oils and excess sodium.”

Following a well-balanced diet will help with performance and reduce stress.

Walder explains: “For example, a balanced diet can help to increase immune function, lower blood pressure and improve brain function – all of which can be negatively affected by stress.”

Being prepared with meal planning or food prepping can also help reduce stress.

Walder recommends batch cooking a few key ingredients to her clients.

This way they can quickly throw together simple, healthy meals throughout the week, (saving time = stress reduction!) ending the evening with some herbal tea or a warm, turmeric latte can also help you relax during the winter months.

I asked Walder for some gift ideas which runners and those trying to hop on the fitness bandwagon would appreciate.

She said, “I think kitchen appliances are a great gift idea to encourage someone to prepare more meals at home. My favourites are a food processor or a high speed blender (you can make SO many different recipes with them).

If you want something less expensive, cookbooks or gift cards to their favorite grocery store are always a great idea.

For actual food items, I think a beautiful set of loose leaf teas or a quality spice collection would make great gifts as well!”

These energy foods will help you to manage the Christmas rush and hopefully survive last minute shopping with energy to spare.

More information:

Follow Christine – @christineruns

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