We’ve all been there – 2:30 p.m. rolls around and our eyelids feel like they weigh 50 pounds. We start yawning, then stretch and squirm at our work station to stay awake. The mid-day food drain can impact your productivity at work and can be frowned upon by co-workers if you’re constantly yawning at meetings.
It’s time to ditch the drowsy and embrace the energy at work. By changing a few habits during your lunch break, you can find the energy you need to last the day and work stronger than ever. Here are some fun food ideas to help you stay awake and avoid the urge to take a nap at your desk.
Why Am I So Sleepy?
After eating, your body is diverting blood flow for the digestive process. While this blood flow can energize you, the heavier, fattier foods cause sluggishness. Eating sugary foods greatly increases blood sugar levels, causing the pancreas to release insulin. This causes the body to change the insulin into several enzymes until it finally gets into the brain and is converted into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel sleepy.
Like a Checkbook, Keep it Balanced
One of the best ways to keep yourself fueled throughout the day is to make sure your lunch is complete with carbohydrates and low-fat protein. The good kind of carbs come from fiber in foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains.
One of the best ways to combine these foods is with the classic sandwich. You can combine whole-grain breads, wraps, or pitas with high protein foods like lean meats, such as turkey, chicken, tuna, cheese, or eggs. You can complete it with assorted greens, sprouts, onions, tomatoes, or cucumbers to help give you some extra long-lasting carbs to keep you energized.
Eating sandwiches every day may get boring and you might get back in the habit of eating out. To add some variety to your lunch, consider bringing leftovers from previous dinners. They are a great food to bring because you can control the calories and portions to ensure it will be healthy yet filling. It wouldn’t be hard to cook a little extra at nights and bring your black bean casserole, soup, or chili to work throughout the week.
Less is More
Many starchy and carb-loaded foods take time to expand in your stomach to tell your body that it’s full, which causes you to still feel hungry after eating. Big meals take more effort to digest, which works your body harder and results in less oxygen and nutrition reaching your brain.
Another way to keep your energy level up during work is to spread your meals into smaller portions throughout the day instead of a big meal at lunch. Eating frequent, healthy snacks will keep your metabolism going and help you feel energized. Foods like fruits provide long-lasting carbs full, leaving you feeling energetic hours after consumption. Eating fiber in granola and oatmeal can also help keep you from feeling hungry and give you a vigorous boost as the day continues.
You don’t have to struggle keeping tempo with your after-lunch work schedule. If you eat healthier, smaller portions, you can maintain a high level of energy while feeling full and content all day. What are some foods you like to eat at lunch that keep you going all day?