California Riding Magazine • October, 2009

Eating for Energy
How to create sustained energy
in and out of the ring.

by Valerie Breslow, CN, CHHC AADP

We all devote tremendous amounts of time preparing to ride and show our horses, however we often neglect ourselves when we get caught up in the fun as well as the demands of competition. But it’s important to listen to your body and provide it with nourishment regularly to avoid dips in blood sugar.

As for the demands of the show ring, it’s been documented that anxiety actually increases as your blood sugar dips, so if you’re prone to bouts of anxiety, staying nourished can actually play a role in your success in the show ring and in life in general. Needless to say, a little planning ahead goes a long way toward helping create success both in and out of the ring.

Beware Sinister Sweets

We’ve all had that feeling—you’re experiencing a difficult time concentrating on the task at hand, you feel a little irritable and you begin craving anything sweet. It’s sometimes all you can do to find a vending machine offering tempting, sugary snacks and drinks. Feeling vulnerable, we say to ourselves it’s an emergency situation and we don’t have time to run out and get what we need to properly nourish ourselves. Unfortunately, an even stronger sugar crash ensues shortly thereafter, but with all the pre-packaged snacks available and “on-demand” lifestyles, we tend to get caught up in the convenience factor.

The problem with these prepackaged foods is that they’re also packed with high sodium, high sugar and hydrogenated oils—all things that wreak havoc on our health and wellness and actually deplete our energy long term rather than adding to it. While those tasty snack cakes taste good going down, they will ultimately have you craving more of them until you’ve devoured more than you had planned. Caffeinated drinks, coffee, soft drinks, alcohol, and milk that contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, and unwanted chemicals can also be energy drainers. Stimulants such as caffeine and sugar may seem to give an energy boost, but they actually deplete our bodies of minerals and nutrients thereby making us feel run down and weak over time.

Check in With Your Body

When you are feeling low in energy, it’s sometimes a good idea to first check your hydration level. Sometimes feelings of lethargy are actually your body’s way of notifying you that you’re dehydrated. Because your body is 70 percent water, it makes sense to hydrate and hydrate often. If you don’t like plain water and it doesn’t seem to satisfy you, instead of reaching for sugary soft drinks and colorful sport drinks, consider upgrading your water to spa status. You can make your water more palatable by adding in fruits, such as lemons, limes, cucumbers, berries and a sprig of mint. By adding these live enzymes to your water you’re not only making the water taste more appealing, you’re also making it more absorbable for your body.

Ready To Eat Right

The good news is there is a way to maintain your energy even when you don’t have time for a proper meal. My suggestion to clients is to always be prepared. It’s the Boy Scout’s motto for a reason! It’s also important to make healthful choices. As for snacks on the go, the best thing to do is plan ahead and put together a cooler full of choices so you always have something to fall back on. Here are some healthful choices—please choose organic ingredients when possible:

  • Baked yam chips (slice yams and place on baking sheet for 20 minutes at 350 degrees – season to taste)
  • Baked kale chips (brush kale with mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, curry, cumin, etc. to add flavor and bake for five minutes each side at 425 degrees)
  • Fresh carrot sticks, celery, grape tomatoes, and radishes with hummus or guacamole
  • Yogurt sprinkled with nuts, seeds, fruit, etc.
  • Fresh fruit (ie, cut up watermelon, apples, grapes – whatever is in season)
  • Granola (choose all natural versions that are low in sugar – remember 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar)
  • Nori sheets (wrap up some raw veggies and you have yourself a mineral rich, satisfying treat)
  • Rice cakes with almond nut butter
  • Trail mix (make your own with walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds along with dehydrated fruit and dark chocolate chips)
  • Ants on a log (nut butter on celery sticks with raisins sprinkled on top)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Baked tortilla chips with black bean dip or salsa

Valerie Breslow provides holistic health and nutrition counseling through her company, The Wellness Box, in San Diego. For more information, visit or reach Breslow at or 858-337-4217.