The most effective way to beat the afternoon slump
Sometimes we need a little pick me up. It’s often around the three o’clock mark and it often involves sugar.
Around seven to eight hours after you wake up your circadian rhythm is going through a trough which causes you feel sleepy.
Unfortunately, the demands of the modern workplace often require that we push past the slump. Instead of taking a quick nap, many of us turn to caffeine and sugary foods to get us through.
When the sugar cravings hit all of our healthy intentions can unravel in just a few mouthfuls. Next thing you know you’re covered in cookie crumbs and full of regret.
So how can we stop ourselves from reaching for the chocolate bar? Here are some simple tricks to stop those pesky sugar cravings from sabotaging all your hard work.
1. Get plenty of quality sleep
Getting a good sleep the night before should be the first line of defence against 3:30-itis. If you’re already tired when you get to work you are much more prone to an energy slump because our cortisol hormones naturally decrease at this time of day. When we are well rested we are less inclined to reach for the lolly jar for that quick pick me up. Make sure you’re getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
2. Eat a wholesome breakfast
Studies show that people who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to snack throughout the day, eating less calories than those who skip breakfast. Here are some healthy breakfast options to try that will keep you fuller for longer.
- Porridge with banana or berries (try and avoid additional sweeteners such as sugar or honey). Oats release energy slowly and can keep you feeling full. They also provide a number of other health benefits, potentially decreasing your risk of cancer.
- Avocado on toast. If you don’t want to eat bread you can try the latest health food trend, sweet potato toast.
- Breakfast salad with kale, eqqs and quinoa.
3. Avoid lunch time carbohydrates
Starchy carbs, such as bread or pasta, can cause our bodies to spike with insulin levels, putting fat burning aside for up to five hours while it deals with stabilising our blood sugar levels.
Some great alternatives to starchy carbohydrates include pumpkin, sweet potato, quinoa, protein bread, amaranth and chickpeas. It’s also a good idea to eat some protein such as beans, chickpeas or eggs.
4. Opt for healthy snacks
There is a big break between lunch and dinner so it helps to have healthy snacks on hand if you get hungry in the afternoon. Try:
- A few Medjool dates and four brazil nuts provide a delicious caramel-like treat, full of fibre and serotonin.
- Greek full fat yoghurt with berries and cinnamon is great for blood sugar stabilisation.
- Almonds and dried sulfur-free apricots can satisfy sugar cravings.
5. Drink a glass of water
We often mistake dehydration for hunger. Next time you crave sugar, drink one to two glasses of water instead. You may find you were just thirsty after all.
6. Have a green tea
Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee but it is higher in antioxidants and an amino acid called l-theanine, which has been shown to work synergistically with caffeine to boost mood, alertness and focus. L-theanine also increases levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and GABA, which may improve recall, learning and positive mood.
7. Take a screen break
According to studies, our body can only concentrate for 90 to 120 minute intervals before it needs a break. Known as the ultradium rhythm, our body moves through different levels of alertness throughout the day. Instead of having a snack when the slump period kicks in, try getting up and going outside in the sunshine for five minutes.
Working out at lunchtime can give you a much needed energy boost. Sugar releases the feel good hormone ‘dopamine’ in the brain giving you that sugar high. When we exercise our body releases endorphins, which provides a much healthier natural high for our bodies. Try going for a brisk walk and wait to see if you still feel like the sugary snack after 10 to 20 minutes.
9. Stand up
Try implementing a standing desk if work permits it. Since our bodies are not designed to sit for long hours of the day, by standing, your posture may improve and your metabolism will be elevated since your body burns more kilojoules standing compared to sitting.
10. Have a nap
While this luxury isn’t available to many of us, there are a few companies that offer nap rooms. A 20 minute power nap can have a rejuvenating effect and is much better for your waistline than a sugary snack.
Liked this? Read these!
Got something to say? Get it off your chest here
The Juice Daily is a Fairfax Media owned website