Anyone who works full-time will know of the dreaded mid-afternoon slump. It’s that feeling that creeps over you when it’s still far too early to go home, but you’re still ready to give up the ghost because it feels like ages since lunch.
Your eyelids droop, you can’t stop yawning and all of a sudden, that pile of paperwork looks unbearable. While some lulls in activity at work are inevitable – you can’t plough on like a robot all the time, after all – it is possible to beat this severe slump by making some changes to what you eat.
Dietitian Sian Porter recently told the Guardian that you need to start as far back as breakfast to ensure your energy levels are boosted all day. Eat some wholegrain cereal or toast and wash it down with pure fruit juice so you get an instant intake of vitamins and fibre.
Then, address the snacks you usually have mid morning.. If they are usually comprised of biscuits and other sugary items dunked in tea, it’s time to ditch them. Instead, enjoy a banana – which has calories that will be digested slowly for a steady source of energy – and a handful of plain nuts.
You can still make a brew, but you might want to have a glass of water too in order to prevent dehydration which can lead to a lack of concentration.
When it comes to lunch, it can be tempting to pop out of the office and splash out on mayonnaise-laden sandwiches, cakes and chocolate bars. However, making a healthy choice at midday can help you stay awake at 3pm.
Keep high-fat foods to a minimum and instead opt for protein, good carbohydrates and vegetables. For example, you could have a chicken salad with brown rice, sweetcorn and peas mixed in. Don’t go for sugars and simple carbohydrates like those in white bread, as they get into the bloodstream quickly, causing a blood sugar rise followed by a sudden crash later when your insulin response kicks in. Swap the sugar in your hot drinks for Canderel tablets to keep the sweetness but forego the effects of sugar.
Try to make sure you get out and stretch your legs too, as this will help with digestion, as well as clearing your head thanks to the fresh air.
Finally, if you do feel peckish by mid-afternoon, don’t undo all your good work by running as fast as you can to the vending machine. “Opt instead for fresh fruit, a handful of unsalted nuts, vegetable sticks, rice cakes with hummus, or a handful of plain popcorn,” nutritionist Heather Caswell told the Guardian. This will give you the energy boost you need to prevent that zombie-like slump without causing a sugar rush.