I want to have more energy and be healthier. A nutritionist said to eat more snacks and protein.

  • A 33-year-old woman submitted an average day of eating to be reviewed for Insider's Nutrition Clinic.

  • A nutritionist advised her to eat more snacks and ensure meals contain protein and produce.

  • If you'd like to have your diet reviewed by an expert, fill out this form.

Sarah, 33, submitted her eating routine for Insider's Nutrition Clinic, where qualified dietitians and registered nutritionists offer advice on readers' eating habits.

She told Insider her goal is to be as healthy as she can and to have more energy, especially in the evenings.

Sarah is a single working mother who gets two kids off to school every day while also working at least 40 hours per week.

"I eat what is convenient but try to be healthy. I don't exercise enough," she said.

Registered nutritionist Charan Bijlani told Insider that Sarah is doing a great job given all the demands on her time.

"It's easy to let nutrition and health be pushed to the side when life is busy," she said.

To boost her energy, Bijlani recommended Sarah try incorporating healthy snacks into her diet, eating complex carbs at breakfast, and sneaking movement into her day by doing things like taking the stairs, parking her car further away from her destination, or walking round the playground while her kids play in the park.

"I know we often think exercise needs to be formal and structured but seeing where it fits into your day and focusing on movement might be helpful considering your schedule," Bijlani said. "There's even some great 5-10 minute online classes if that's something that might fit into your schedule."

Eat complex carbs, fiber, and fats at breakfast

For breakfast, Sarah has Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and a handful of oat clusters, plus a black coffee without sugar.

Bijlani said Sarah's breakfast is great, but adding complex carbs might help maintain her energy levels.

One way to do this would be to make overnight oats: replace the clusters with whole oats then mix with the Greek yogurt, leave overnight, and top with fruit in the morning. Adding nuts or seeds would also provide some more fiber and healthy unsaturated fats, which can boost your energy further, Bijlani said.

"Oats are an excellent source of complex carbs which are slowly broken down in the body for energy throughout the day," Bijlani said. "While the oat clusters are made from oats they'll also be held together with sugar or syrup and won't be as filling or as slow-releasing throughout the day."

Have protein at lunch

At lunchtime, Sarah has a sandwich made with a multigrain bun, salad, and sometimes chicken or ham, plus a piece of fruit such as an apple.

Sarah's lunch is good, Bijlani said, but she should ensure she gets the protein in to help with hunger and energy levels throughout the day.

If she doesn't want chicken or ham in her sandwich every day, Bijlani recommended trying hummus, turkey, tofu, or egg mayonnaise, or she could have something on the side such as falafels or vegetables with hummus.

Add vegetables to frozen dinners

For dinner, Sarah has whatever is convenient, she said, such as a store-bought frozen lasagna, homemade tacos with mince and black beans, a chicken stir fry, or marinated meat with mashed potato and vegetables.

"If I'm pretty exhausted I'll just get frozen meals," Sarah said.

"It's great that she's making time for three balanced meals throughout the day and that she's including a portion of fruit or vegetables with almost every meal," Bijlani said. "Focusing on quick and easy meals for dinner is great and even including frozen meals is fine."

Bijlani recommended adding a portion of vegetables on the days where dinner is a frozen or ready-made meal.

"With some meals there might be enough but an easy rule of thumb can be to just add a portion if in doubt," she said.

Frozen vegetables are fine too, whether sweetcorn, peas, broccoli or anything else, Bijlani said.

Snacks can boost energy throughout the day

One reason for Sarah's low energy levels could be that she simply isn't eating enough, Bijlani said.

With this in mind, she recommended adding some snacks into her diet — Bijlani suggested she try fruit or vegetables paired with a protein or fat source (such as a Babybel or handful of nuts) to keep her feeling full.

However, a lack of energy could be related to a vitamin deficiency, so it's worth seeing a doctor if you're worried, Bijlani said.

The advice in this article isn't a substitute for a professional medical diagnosis or treatment.

Read the original article on Insider