What to eat in the mid-afternoon slump? This is probably on of the most common questions regarding energy that comes my way. The morning is productive, boxes are ticked, lunch is done and then three o’clock hits and we subsequently and habitually feel like we’ve hit a wall. There is reason for this. The circadian rhythms, governing wakefulness and sleep, program our bodies to hit downtime between 12-3pm each day. We are physiologically programmed to rest in the afternoon. And whilst in an ideal world we would take twenty and close our eyes for a quick power nap, in reality this isn’t feasible for most. So throughout our day, we need to eat foods to nourish our bodies, rise above the slump and energise throughout the day. The more common picture however, is that instead of reaching for the nourishing pick me up we go for the quick fix… sugar and caffeine. Sound familiar? It’s time then to take a break, make a change and focus on eating to energise.
MAKE THE SWAP
We can’t expect to improve energy levels if we’re going to feed our bodies food that causes a spike in blood glucose and/or adrenaline levels and then a rapid fall. This is the result of quick fix foods such as coffee, confectionary and sugary treats. Their effect on the body’s energy is only momentary and if you tune in to your body when you eat them they have a similar effect on mood. If some of the ingredients to your afternoon pick me up involve the likes of the above then it’s time to make the swap to foods to nourish. Scale back and make the swap:
from coffee initially to black tea then green, followed in time by herbal
form refined confectionary and to fruits and nourishing treats made with nutrients to help you shine
from pastries, cakes and sugar laden mouthfuls to protein rich snacks that stabilise energy levels for the remainder of the day
Use the slump as an opportunity to fuel the change in your eating habits. Think about these nutrients to up the ante when you feel the low.
Water: a well hydrated body is a well nourished and energised one. We cannot disregard just how important good hydration is for energy. If you feel tired and lethargic upon waking, water is your first step to flush and hydrate the body. If hunger strikes you at unexpected times, and a less than ideal snack is tempting, then a glass of water is your friend before anything else comes into play. And most certainly if you’ve relied on the quick fixes (caffeine and sugar) to see you through the 3pm slump, then water is going to be your partner in crime to improve energy for the long term. Have faith in this old trick it’s been touted in health for centuries for good reason.
Magnesium: This is an incredible mineral for improving energy, not to mention helping us focus and consequently relax when we need to. Magnesium plays a vital role in the reactions that generate and deliver energy to our cells. Augment your diet with these magnesium rich foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, quinoa, legumes (beans and lentils) and best of all good quality dark chocolate. Integrate these foods as snacks with:
Green juices or smoothies
A handful of raw nuts and seeds
Quick crunch on vegetable sticks with hummus
High quality dark chocolate made without refined sugars
B Vitamins: Our friends niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B6, B12 and pantothenic acid work as a little team within the body to metabolise energy from protein, carbs and fats. Fortunately we find them in abundance in our foods but when we need to up our game and improve energy to see us through our lows then we can hone in on the B snack factor with a few little tricks:
Natural yoghurt with crushed almonds, pecans and a serve of fresh fruit
Small piece of poached chicken wrapped in spinach with fresh herbs
Couple of teaspoons of natural (preservative/additive free) peanut butter spread on a banana
Half serve of green salad such as tabouleh
Quick boiled or fried egg with chilli and paprika
Cacao smoothie with greens
Half an avocado with lemon and pepper
And if you’re still hungry for inspiration, these wholesome energy rich icy poles are a wonderful in the right direction.
RASPBERRY MANGO AND VANILLA ICY POLES
Makes 6 small icy poles
1 cup coconut cream
140g mango pieces
1 banana, peeled
1/4 cup raspberries
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup mango
1 teaspoon vanilla bean
To make the raspberry layer combine all of the ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor and blend until combined. Divide the mixture across the base of the icy pole moulds. Tap the moulds against a counter to ensure no air bubbles remain. Make the mango layer by blending all of the ingredients together. Pour the mango mix into the moulds and place a paddle pop stick into each. Place in the freezer to set overnight.
Discover all of Jacqueline’s recipes and download the full Wholefoods Challenge here