4 tricks to avoid the afternoon slump
How to steer clear of the late afternoon coffee and cookie trap
CBC Health spoke with registered dietitian Cara Rosenbloom and registered naturopath Hilary Booth.
Choose your lunch wisely
What you eat for lunch directly impacts how you feel later in the afternoon. Many people eat a high carbohydrate lunch but don't include enough protein. You'll experience a slump and feel more fatigue later if you're just eating carbs. Protein is the nutrient that makes you feel fuller longer and also helps carbs break down more slowly so that you feel energized longer.
When you choose your lunch, consider including a good source of protein such as lean chicken, fish or tofu. Try to include a healthy source of fat, like avocado or almonds. And equally important, select complex carbs like brown rice or sweet potatoes to provide sustained energy rather than white rice or refined carbs like pasta or bread.
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Plan ahead for snacks
Steer clear of the late afternoon coffee and cookie trap by preparing your snack in anticipation of the slump. We automatically crave sugar when we feel depleted because sugar provides instant energy. For a snack that sustains energy and delivers better nutrition, think along the lines of raisins with almonds, Greek yogurt with fruit, or hummus with vegetables.
Increase your water intake
Hydrate! People often confuse hunger cravings with actual thirst. Staying hydrated helps you avoid that sleepy feeling. Adequate water intake is important for cognitive performance, weight loss and chronic disease prevention among other benefits. Make a cup of tea or enjoy water with cucumber, lemon or mint. Keep the beverage unsweetened.
There is not a single level of water intake that can be recommended for everyone: the amount depends on several factors such as metabolism and environmental conditions. What's important is to remember your body needs water so don't neglect this vital fluid.
Get outside and move your body
Sitting indoors all day drains energy. Make sure to get up and stretch every hour — stand up during phone calls or do a few stretches at your desk. Step outside even for five minutes to get some fresh air and take a walk. Fresh air, natural light and movement improves cardiovascular and cognitive function so that when you're back in the office you'll be more energized and creative.
What is it about natural light that makes us feel better? Direct sunlight exposure increases vitamin D which improves mood. The Canadian Cancer Society suggests that a "few minutes a day of unprotected sun exposure is usually all some people need to get enough vitamin D."
- A previous version of the article gave the name of the registered dietitian as Cara Bloom. In fact, her name is Cara Rosenbloom.May 09, 2015 12:47 PM ET