It’s 3 p.m. and your eyelids are starting to feel heavy. You feel your concentration waning, and all of a sudden it’s all you can do not to grab that sweet treat you wish your colleague hadn’t brought to work.
Prior to being diagnosed with Celiac disease, I used to experience this almost every day and it is still a common complaint I hear from my clients. When I changed my diet to go gluten free, I suddenly realized I wasn’t experiencing that slump and fatigue I was so used to. Why? Well one of the reasons was that I had to eliminate common foods that CAUSE this dip in energy, like breads and higher carbohydrate foods.
For me, it was a matter of switching up my lunch foods. Though you may not be Celiac or gluten free, here are some of the most common reasons you might be getting the dreaded 3 p.m. slump and what you can do about it:
You’re not eating breakfast
Not only is breakfast important for energy, but it is one of the best habits you can have for weight-loss. It’s easy to feel like you don’t need breakfast and that coffee can sustain you, and while it can certainly do that for the short term, come the afternoon, fatigue will set in.
By eating breakfast you are going to start the day with balanced blood sugar, a key factor in determining your energy. Start the day off with a high protein breakfast, like eggs or a smoothie. Don’t make these common smoothie mistakes!
Your carb/fat/protein balance is off at lunch
Think about popular lunch foods and you will realize they have a couple of things in common: they tend to be white in colour and processed. Foods like bread, white potatoes and pasta, while filling, do nothing for your blood sugar and result in low energy and excess belly fat when consumed too often.
You might not think of lunch foods as high in sugar, but they digest very quickly into sugar in the body leading to the same spike and blood sugar crash you experience after eating a sweet food.
Aim to create your lunch plate as follows:
- 1/2 colourful vegetables
- 1/4 complex carbohydrates (quinoa, sweet potato or brown rice)
- 1/4 protein
You need some adrenal support
You may already have a great breakfast and lunch routine, but are still feeling sluggish in the afternoon. In this case, I would suggest looking to your adrenals. Fatigued adrenal glands can also cause your cortisol levels (a stress hormone) to be out of balance, resulting in lower than normal energy levels.
Have you gone through a period of chronic stress that you never fully recovered from? Often my clients don’t realize that a highly stressful time in their life, like job stress, relationships ending or death, will require adrenal repair, even if it’s years later. Every person is different, so for this I would recommend you work with a natural health care practitioner to assess if you need to increase or decrease your cortisol levels and what specific foods and supplements would be best for you.
Mandy King is a Holistic Nutritionist and Gluten Free Guru who shares her expertise with She Does The City. For recipes and nutrition tips, visit her website, HEAL. Follow Mandy on Twitter @mandyking_HEAL. Like Healthy Eating and Living on Facebook here. You can also find Mandy on Pinterest and Instagram.