We are on the last leg of the year, and some of us need a bit of a push to make it to the end – especially at work.

In between the tight schedules, are those five to ten minutes breaks we take to quickly get a ‘fix’ or to recharge and boost our energy to keep up with those back-to-back deadlines.

We continue talking all things nutrition in honour of national nutrition week. Today, we are encouraging you to be mindful of your health when consuming energy boosters.

Medical Doctor, Dr Thabang Molefe warns that we need to be careful to not create a dependence on substances. Medication and energy drinks have become an integral part of people’s lives, and this is not a healthy way of living.

Registered dietician and spokesperson for The Association for Dietetics in South Africa, Lerato Radebe talks about the three most common addictive substances.  

The most common addictive substances to avoid:


One of the most popular beverages that people use to boost their energy and mental focus is coffee.

‘’It is the caffeine in coffee that is a problem, so people need to be aware of all other products that contain caffeine such as tea, colas and energy drinks,’’ says Radebe. 

Excessive caffeine has the following ramifications:

  • Increases blood pressure.
  • Causes dehydration (which leads to increased food intake in many people as they confuse thirst for hunger). 
  • Increases anxiety, heartburn, and insomnia amongst other things.

Pain meds e.g., Opioids (morphine, codeine), cough syrup, sleeping pills.

One of the most common reasons people often consult their local GP is for some sort of pain relief or to prevent potential pain. However, what often happens is that people tend to become more reliant on the medication and overuse it to enjoy the “benefits” of the side effects which include feeling euphoric, drowsy, numb or as an escape.

According to bhekisisa.org, experts are becoming increasingly concerned that people requesting medication by a specific brand name or asking for a repeat prescription earlier than needed could be addicted to codeine.

Medications that contain codeine include pain relief and cough relief medication.

Some of the health effects of painkiller abuse include:

  • Weak mental function.
  • Liver or kidney disease or failure.
  • Cardiovascular problems.

Sugar, Refined carbohydrates, and Fats

“For individuals who have busy lifestyles, it is possible to keep up without being dependent on substances. The best diet is one that involves a lifestyle change instead of trying to rely on quick fixes,” adds Radebe.

Such a diet should include.

  • Plenty of vegetables, the rawer, the better.
  • Good balance of fruits (don’t overdo fruits, two small portions a day is enough).
  • Plant based carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes, mielies, etc.
  • Healthy portions of meat (try to consume more fish and chicken, red meat should be eaten occasionally).

Remember to always take breaks in between your days to make it to the end of the year.

Our founder and CEO, Olwethu has often spoken about the importance of taking breaks throughout her day. It’s important to allow your brain to have mini breaks and almost declutter.

“I don’t have the luxury to go on holiday now, but I make sure to take at least one mini holiday every 24 hours. This could be an hour break to do something I consider fun or just some time disconnecting from the world and work to sit with myself. Those moments are important,” she says.

– Olwethu Leshabane

Should the pressure get too much, read our Setting Boundaries For Stress-free Working blog for tips on how to switch off from work.