There have been 3 times in my life where I’ve felt felt seriously tired. Like exhausted. For an extended period.
First was during my days as an aspiring young winemaker.
While I had most amazing time learning the wine making ropes, it was long, hard, physical work. Which meant biceps that would make Schwarzenegger proud and an appetite (literally) like a horse.
But over time I realized it was more fun drinking wine than making it. And a career change took care of that problem.
Second was my experimental month of being vegetarian.
At the time I couldn’t understand why I felt so tired. But after discussing my experiment with a nutritionist friend, she pointed out I wasn’t getting enough iron. And of course the tiredness lifted as soon as I went back to eating meat.
Third was during both my pregnancies.
Luckily this time I knew what was up! So I made eating red meat a focus (with no complaints from my Irishman). I can’t tell you what a difference it made to my energy levels.
So if you’re feeling super tired, there’s one great place to start…
Eat more iron rich foods!
In general, I think it’s not very helpful to try and eat for specific nutrients. But the link between iron deficiency and tiredness is pretty direct so I feel it’s a worthy exception.
To save you ‘googling’ here are some ideas of my favourite ingredients rich in iron…
My Favourite Animal Based Iron Rich Foods
Liver including pate
My Favourite Vegetable Based Iron Rich Foods
Leafy Greens (Spinach / Chard / Kale)
Sesame Seeds / Tahini
NOTE: Eating citrus at the same time makes it easier for your body to absorb and actually use the iron you eat. So a squeeze of lemon or lime is always a great addition.
‘Super Iron’ Supper
While I prefer to focus on eating real food rather than trying to get specific nutrients, sometimes it is fun to really have a specfic focus when creating a recipe. Like this meal of my favourite iron-rich (and pregnant-lady-friendly) foods.
enough for: 2
takes: 15 minutes
450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz)
1 bag baby spinach
3-4 tablespoons tahini (optional)
3-4 tablespoons lemon
1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Cook beef on a medium high heat until well browned.
2. Add chickpeas and cook for another few minutes to warm. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
3. To serve divide baby spinach between two bowls. Top with beef and chickpeas. Drizzle over tahini (if using) and finish with lemon juice.
vegetarian / vegan – replace beef with extra chickpeas or cooked lentils.
no tahini? – tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. You could just skip it or replace with your favourite nut butter such as almond or cashew butter. Or a handful of sesame seeds, cashews or almonds will also do the trick.
different greens / more veg – add any wilted leafy green such as kale, collard greens, spinach, chard (silverbeet).
more substantial – add more chickpeas or other legumes.
hot! – add some chopped fresh red chilli to the beef as it cooks.