What if you decided to eat for energy? What would you eat?

What if you decided to eat for energy? What would you eat?

Carrie Mackerwicz, a holistic nutrition counselor in Ashland, says the mainstream food supply used by most of us often leaves people feeling sluggish and may actually be draining our energy.

"A drain on our energy can come from a lot of places, like lack of sleep, job you hate, bad relationship — and a lot can be traced back to the psychological stuff. But our food is a big source of it, and it's something we can control fairly easily by eating more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff."

Our modern, mass-produced food supply tends to be low in vital minerals, gets improperly digested and leaves toxic residues in our digestive systems, says Mackerwicz. The result is that dragged-out feeling so familiar to many of us.

Energy-producing food is full of blood-building minerals — iron, calcium, sodium, phosphorous, iodine and a lot of others we hardly ever hear of, she notes. And it's organic.

"It has 20 to 200 percent more minerals," says Mackerwicz. "By contrast, a diet with lots of caffeine and sugars, including high-fructose corn syrup, may do for a quick blood-sugar boost, but it robs you of minerals ... It's like a credit card — fun to use, not fun to pay for."

Mackerwicz, who teaches energy-food classes, also does catering, bringing healthful vegan dinners to clients' homes. She has lots of praise for veggies, especially dark leafy greens (kale, collards, etc.), and suggests lots of alkaline and raw foods.

A lunch dish on her kitchen table includes greens, celery, apple bits, carrots, purple cabbage, hemp seeds (they taste like sunflower seeds) and nuts.

Shifting to a clean, high-energy diet is something people should work into gradually, she warns. Everyone's body is different, and there's no one "right" diet for all.

"When you change your diet from toxic, low-quality stuff, the shift will cause your body to detox, just as (what) happens when someone goes off alcohol or drugs," she notes, adding that people with underlying health problems should consult a health practitioner for guidance.

"It's a lifelong journey, not something you can expect to be perfect right off the bat. Add good foods bit by bit. It'll change your body chemistry, and you'll start to crave them. You crowd out the bad foods; you don't rip them out.

"This way is friendly to human nature. If you feel mental pain and deprivation, you're going to set yourself up for failure."

Make it fun, not an unhappy discipline, she urges. Do it with friends, get excited about healthy options, go to classes, she says. Eating high-energy foods is not about sitting down to a boring pile of raw carrots, she says.

A good dinner might include a tempeh stir-fry with a side of quinoa cooked with garlic, onions and dried currants and a salad of arugula or spinach with avocado, celery, apple and hemp seeds.

Mackerwicz suggests keeping meat and dairy products to a minimum because they take more energy to digest than they provide. And she recommends using organic oils in your cooking.

As your body acclimates to the energy diet, she notes, "you'll have all the physical energy to get up and go with ease."

For information about classes or individual food counseling, contact Mackerwicz at 617-694-6142 or by e-mail at carrie@nextlevelwellness.com. Her Web site is www.nextlevelwellness.com.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.