Does this sound familiar?
It’s 3pm, and you are yawning and feeling exhausted, and you notice you are just a tad bit irritable. You reach for a double espresso and a candy bar or a muffin to get you through the rest of the afternoon and pick up your mood…
Who hasn’t experienced that drained feeling halfway through the afternoon, when making it through the day seems impossible? According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly half of us report an afternoon slump where our energy and focus dip. One of the most common reasons for afternoon fatigue is fluctuating blood sugar levels.
Waiting too long between meals and/or eating a lunch full of carbohydrates and fatty foods such as burger and fries, grilled cheese sandwich, pasta, etc. causes too much sugar to be released into the body at once, which causes too much insulin to be released to balance the sugar levels. This causes your blood sugar levels to rise and fall rapidly, leading to a quick burst of energy followed by a deep crash. And therein lays the afternoon energy slump… yawn!!!
I have a confession. I used to have an afternoon slump everyday. I also used to be a GRUMPY and irritable BEAR (you may have heard of the term, “h-angry”?: hungry + angry). Almost every day at some point I would become completely unreasonable, exhausted, and h-angry, because I waited too long to eat between meals, and because I wasn’t eating foods that kept my blood sugar levels stable. People used to be afraid to be around me at certain times of the day. Can you relate?
Enter HEALTHY SNACKS.
After many arguments with my then boyfriend, and many afternoons at work just completely wasted by my lack of focus and energy, I finally understood that I actually had some control over the situation, if I chose to use it. When I realized what kind of a toll my “hanger” was having on my relationships and my work, I started looking for solutions. I realized the best thing to do was avoid having my blood sugars crash, and so I started carrying snacks with me like nuts and trail mix. Healthy snacks kept me from reaching for coffee and pastries in the afternoon, which just set me up for more h-anger episodes.
Healthy snacks also bridge the gap between meals and stop that rumbling stomach when dinner is still hours away, and they will keep you from gorging everything in sight at your next meal. Snacks are also a great way to get in extra whole foods to ensure that you are getting in the correct nutrients for the day.
It’s important to pick the right snack at the right time, to keep energy levels up and bridge the gap properly. A snack made up of a complex carb with lots of fiber, a healthy fat, and clean protein will increase your energy levels for a longer period of time.
So, back to that afternoon slump.
It’s the time of day when another cup of coffee or quick sugary snack seems like the perfect way to carry you to the end of the day. Hold that thought! If I was able to overcome it, I know you can too! With this snack list in hand, and a little planning, you can easily push through and run to the finish line. Don’t let that afternoon slump take control of you; you have the power to take control of it! Below is a list of my top ten snacks to beat that slump, so that you can arm yourself with the ingredients and knowledge that you have the power to keep your hunger and energy in check all day!
MY TEN TOP SNACKS TO PREVENT THE AFTERNOON SLUMP
- A handful of raw unsalted nuts and seeds/homemade trail mix – the protein, fiber, and fat is a perfect snack combination (pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, and brazil nuts are my faves). Throw in some dried coconut, raisins or goji berries and you have yourself a delicious and sustaining trail mix. Keep it with you at work, or apportion out servings into mini Ziploc bags so that you always have some with you.
- 2 cups of mixed raw veggie sticks and 2 tbsp of your favorite dip – hummus, tahini, pesto, etc.
- Hardboiled egg, ¼ avocado, and tomato on a piece of sprouted Ezekiel toast or ½ an Ezekiel muffin with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup organic unsweetened Greek yogurt (or a coconut milk yogurt) with 1 tbsp unsweetened nut butter, cinnamon, and ½ apple, sliced, OR yogurt with 2 tbsp mixed nuts, seeds (chia seeds are great for this), and berries
- Green juice – cucumber, kale, spinach, parsley, celery, lemon ginger, and coconut oil
- Smoothie – unsweetened almond milk, ½ banana, 1 tbsp almond butter, hemp or pea protein powder, vanilla, cinnamon, hemp seeds, maca powder/cacao powder, and ice
- 1 apple, sliced, with nut butter
- ½ of a baked sweet potato with a spoonful of coconut oil and dash of cinnamon
- Chopped fruit salad with fresh mint and some almonds
- Nori seaweed or romaine lettuce leaf + canned salmon/tuna, + avocado, spinach, and cucumber and fold like a wrap
Being prepared with healthy snacks is the key to your success- whether you are looking to lose weight, improve your energy, or balance your moods, eating healthy snacks will help you along your path. Remember that protein, fiber, and healthy fats are your FRIENDS!
Sending you much love,