Is Your Diet Making You Tired?

  • Are you sleeping eight hours but still feeling sluggish? It could be your diet
  • Do you drink enough water and keep caffeine to a minimum?
  • Don’t cut out entire categories of foods—you could be missing out on vital, energy-boosting nutrients

Even if you make a sincere effort to get eight hours of sleep, work out a few times a week, and watch what you eat, you might still feel sluggish with no idea why you feel that way.

Trying to stay healthy and trying to take care of yourself can sometimes feel like a fulltime job, so it can be especially frustrating when you’re still dragging mid-day even when you feel like you’re fully on top of your self-care routine. Law firm life can be incredibly stressful both mentally and physically, and if you get to work feeling run down already, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage at your desk, in meetings, and in court. You might be surprised that despite maintaining a relatively healthy diet, what you eat could still be the culprit in your tiredness. Here’s how to tell if that’s the case.

Not Enough Water?

If you have to think about whether you’re drinking enough water, the answer is probably no! It’s vital for every part of your body that you drink enough water, but most people go throughout their day in a dehydrated state. Not only does water stimulate your brain, regulate your weight, and keep your gut running smoothly, it also makes you feel more alert and awake. If you’re not getting enough H2O throughout the day, there are ways to make that a little easier—try an app that tracks your water intake, get a cute water bottle and make sure you keep refilling it, or set alarms on your phone reminding you to go get another glass from the kitchen. Once you get in the habit, it’ll become like second nature.

Too Much Caffeine?

Everybody loves a good cup of coffee in the morning, but if you find yourself hitting the coffee machine over and over again throughout the day, you might end up making yourself more tired than you were before the first cup. Too much coffee can cause insomnia if you drink it within six hours of going to bed, so it could stop you from sleeping in the first place, but it can also cause headaches, restlessness, stomach irritation, nausea, and increased heart rate. A cup or two is just fine, but maybe make a mid-afternoon switch to decaf—and of course, soda is no better, and will cause all the same problems, on top of being chock full of sugar.

How much coffee do you drink on a typical work day? How do you think caffeine affects you throughout the day, and when you try to sleep?

Unbalanced Food Groups?

Even if you think your diet is well-balanced and you make sure you eat in careful moderation, what you cut out or rely on for energy might be making you more tired throughout the day. Refined carbohydrates and foods containing processed sugar are an obvious culprit, since they give you a quick energy boost that leads to a big crash soon after, but if you’re giving up certain foods for other reasons, you could also be sabotaging yourself. If you’re trying to avoid all sugar, including natural sugar, and you’re giving up healthy fruits like apples and berries, you could be missing out on important nutrients like fiber and other vitamins. If you’ve given up red meat for dietary or environmental reasons, you’re missing out on plenty of iron; the main symptom of a lack of iron is fatigue. You’ll need to find alternate sources to ensure your body runs the way it should.

Too Many Drinks?

There’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two after work with your colleagues, or opening a bottle of wine at home after a trying day at the office, but be sure not to overdo it. Though fine in moderation, we’re all well aware of the negative effects of having one drink too many, but did you know just how much alcohol can affect sleep? Sure, you might fall asleep faster after a glass of wine, but alcohol can affect your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, causing the sleep you get to be lower-quality and leaving you feeling tired and sluggish the next day. So enjoy a drink or two, but make sure it’s not too close to bedtime.

Are You Eating Regularly?

If you’re skipping breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not fueling your body with enough food to give you the energy you need to get through the day. Make sure you eat healthy, balanced breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. There is no shortage of healthy breakfast options, such as oatmeal and smoothie bowls, lunch options like mason jar salads, and quick, easy recipes for dinner. No matter how busy you are, skipping meals will eventually backfire. Don’t forget that snacks can be a great part of balanced diet by helping to ensure you don’t get too hungry between meals. Try roasted almonds, fruit, or raw vegetables when you’re craving something crunchy and satisfying.

What's Next

Over the next week or so, go over your diet: What is missing? What is there too much of? Make the necessary adjustments.