Sunday, April 25, 2021

Foods and other ideas to overcome that midday slump

Who hasn’t felt the midday blues or the midday slump?  You are fine all morning, you get through lunch but then start to drag around 3-4 pm, yet you have an hour or more of work or just the rest of the day to get some things done.  Are there foods that might perk you up?  If so, what are they?  Any other ideas to overcome that midday slump?

What foods and/or beverages can boost your energy?

Some dietitians have a few ideas:

     1. Focus on foods that have some fiber.  Why?  Fiber delays your stomach from emptying so you also fill full longer.

a.     Bananas – I love bananas and usually start my day by eating a banana.  Bananas provide a quick energy boost as they have the natural sugar, fructose. 

b.     Oranges – my husband likes to grab an orange as an afternoon snack.  Oranges are a good source of fiber, about 4 grams of fiber per orange.  And, you get your daily dose of vitamin C with just one orange.  Oranges are also rich in those healthy antioxidants that can lower inflammation and prevent cell damage.  

     2.  Focus on foods high in protein:  Why?  Protein takes longer than carbs to digest and this helps you feel full.  Thus, if you eat protein foods, you won’t be as hungry as if you just snacked only on a piece of fruit or had a sugar-sweetened soda. 

a.    Yogurt:  When sitting at a desk all day, one way I perked myself up was to eat a 6-ounce yogurt and drink a Diet Coke.  Real cow’s milk yogurt not only provides about 5 grams of protein per 6 ounces, it is also a high-quality protein.  And real cow’s milk yogurt is a great way to add some calcium and vitamin D to your day.

b.     Crackers and Cheese – choose some whole grain crackers for fiber and nutrients and some cheese for protein.

c.       String Cheese – have one stick of string cheese and a piece of fruit. 

d.       Nuts – enjoy a handful of nuts for protein and fiber.

e.     Eggs – have a snack of a couple of hard-boiled eggs.  Eggs provide about 6 grams of protein per egg and again it is a very high-quality protein.  As noted last week (Nutrition in the News), we can enjoy some eggs in our diet again.  

       3. Focus on hydration.  One of the first signs of being dehydrated is thirst.  Even being slightly dehydrated can lead to feeling fatigued.  Its not just adults that can get the afternoon slump.  A study of adolescents found that on hot days, they may not be drinking enough fluids when at school resulting in less ability to concentrate and being fatigued.  One principal I know ensured every teacher had some bottled water for their students on the day students were taking the state tests.  The principal knew that being dehydrated could lessen alertness and concentration so he made sure the students were hydrated before taking the test.  Athletes also want to be sure they stay hydrated.  Another study found that athletes who limited fluid intake for 15 hours not only felt fatigued but also had trouble concentrating.  Not a great way to compete.  Just think of athletes who sleep for 12 hours, get up, skip breakfast and then head out for a morning soccer game.  They will be dehydrated and not at peak performance.

a.      Athletes – hydrate before and during exercise.  Some recommend at least 2 glasses of water before physical activity. 

b.     Adults:  Drink water throughout the day.  Add some lemon, lime orange wedges for a pick me up.  Caffeine can help overcome a midday slump.  Some people find late afternoon coffee may interfere with sleep but it shouldn’t be a problem if you take in some caffeine four to six hours before you go to bed.  It doesn’t have to be coffee.  Enjoy a cup of green tea or a Diet Coke for a quick pick me up.  Both have less caffeine than a cup of coffee but can still give you an energy boost. 

      4.  Move:  If you have been sitting for a while, it is time to get up and move.  My Apple watch is always telling me it is time to stand and when it does, I get up and walk around for a few minutes.  It doesn’t have to be a major exercise routine, even moving around for 10 minutes or so can help boost your energy and help you be more alert.  If you are at home, walk around the house or go outside and walk around the block.  At work, you can walk to the water fountain, go to the stairwell and walk up and down a couple of flights of stairs.  Even doing some stretching can help you feel more alert and less tired.   North Carolina Health recommends some shoulder rolls can help reduce tension and lessen fatigue.   

Feeling that afternoon slump?  Try one or more of the above ideas to perk you up and avoid the “four o’clock fade”.  

Sources:  ideas , protein foods , yogurt, Nutrition in the News , fatigued , adolescents , Athletes , Move, North Carolina Health, avoid  Image Sources:  Tired guy  , Hydration , Office stretching exercises

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