Water Pouring into BottleAre you dragging yourself through your day? Grabbing a cup (or two) of coffee to keep yourself going only to need a chocolate fix or something sweet in the afternoon to fight the 2:00 wall? If you are, you’re not alone. 31 million Americans say they skip breakfast, and 85% of us don’t reach the FDA’s goals for healthy foods each day and it’s sure to take a toll on your energy. Are you ready to feel better?Don’t worry–I’m not going to suggest eating a plate of liver or 27 servings of freshly squeezed spinach juice. I’m thinking of something more simple.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take today to keep your meals from bringing you down.

1. Drink more water. Well you knew this was coming. Even mild dehydration can cause your blood to thicken and force your organs to work harder at pumping and filtering. Dehydration also decreases how well body fueling nutrients can reach their final destination. While there’s no clear suggestion on how much water you should drink, men will need about 13 cups a day and women about 9. If you don’t like water plain, flavor it up with lemon slices, orange or even some of the flavored low-calorie additives.

2. Eat a little something for breakfast. Yeah, sorry. You need it. Even if it’s something small like an apple and peanut butter or a bag of trail mix on the go, studies show that those who eat breakfast are perkier (don’t you want to be perky?) and more mentally alert during the day.

3. Eat something every three to four hours. The key to keeping energy high is in your blood sugar. You may be surprised to know though–this actually means staying away from processed sugar. To keep your body running smoothly eat a protein (like cheese, low fat yogurt, or a meat source) with a complex carbohydrate (like whole-grain crackers) and stay away from donuts, waffles, and refined sugary cereals or candy bars.

4. Consider food allergies. Being tired doesn’t mean you have a food allergy. But it could. For some people, food allergies can keep the body from properly absorbing nutrients and vitamins–leaving you malnourished and tired. Allergies can also trigger inflammation in the body and trigger fatigue along with many other health problems. Common food allergies include dairy, gluten,nuts  and soy. Learn more about food allergies.

5. Dial back on the caffeine.  A cup of coffee or tea is fine, but for some people too much of the stimulating chemical caffeine can actually make you more tired.  Common symptoms of caffeine overload include jitteriness (shaking) and a higher heart rate and blood pressure. Try to slowly reduce the amount of caffeine your drink, eat, or take in through medications. Ask your doctor for guidance if your medications have caffeine.

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