Foods that Fuel Your Body
You know that energy drink commercial that talks about that sluggish, 2:30 p.m. feeling you get… usually after lunch? Well, we never encourage you to reach for an energy drink, but the commercial does strike a chord with many people because that sluggishness one feels in the afternoon is true for many of us. However, an energy drink is not the healthy solution. That tired feeling you get can be due to a number of factors, and one significant cause is likely to be your lunch.
Bad Lunch Behavior
Your food choices have a significant impact on your energy levels throughout the day. If you find yourself constantly feeling tired and drained, you might want to evaluate the food choices you’re making. The Cleveland Clinic
offers an abundance of resources on this issue.
How much you should be eating really depends on your job. If you’re a Zumba instructor teaching a couple of classes over the course of the day, you probably need a little more food than say, a blog writer who sits at a desk for eight hours a day. If you eat too much or too little, you may end up feeling tired.
When it comes to lunch, many of just eat quickly at our desks. Dr. Caitlin Dow, the 9Health Ready Nutrition
Expert and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Colorado, Boulder says, “In general, eating isn't one of the "tasks" that we want to do when we're multitasking.” Dr. Dow says when we do, we’re often also doing work or surfing the web.
“If you're eating, you probably aren't actually being productive with work so take 15 minutes and get away from the computer,” advises Dow. By stepping away from the computer, Dow says we can avoid over consumption of food and hopefully more enjoyment in what we’re eating. She also says you’re likely to find yourself more productive when you get back to your desk.
“Just enjoy your food, take your time, recognize when you feel full and stop eating at that point,” says Dow. She also recommends eating with a coworker as it’s one of the great pastimes of humanity and our modern-day lifestyle has taken that away.
Food can either Energize You or Drain You
If you find yourself feeling sluggish in the afternoon, it could be due to the food you eat. “It’s most likely that people are eating foods that are high in carbohydrates, particularly refined ones,” says Dr. Dow. She says these types of foods will usually cause a surge and then a quick decline in blood sugar, causing you to feel tired.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat any carbs. They can actually be a great source of energy for your body. You just want to be aware of the kind of carbs you’re eating. Whole grain carbs are a great way to go. (Fuel Your Body
Here’s what Dr. Dow recommends:
- Avoid heavy pasta meals, especially if the pasta isn't whole grain.
- Meals should be balanced, with a mix of lean protein, produce, healthy fats, and whole grains.
- Think of produce (vegetables and fruit) as the foundation of your diet and build on it from there. Focusing on vegetables will give you lean meals, but they pack a lot of nutrients, fiber (which increases satiety or feelings of fullness) and flavor without leading to sluggishness.
- Protein and fat also slow digestion, which increases satiety and slows sugar absorption.
Fueling Lunch Ideas for those with Little Time
It seems in every office there’s that one person who spends their Sunday doing meal prep. Every day she comes in with a nice, healthy lunch. Maybe you are that person. Or maybe you’re on the other side of that equation and you just don’t have the time to dedicate your Sunday for a weekly meal preparation.
Now, Dr. Dow does recommend people make their lunches because they will be less likely to overeat and the food is usually better quality than something packaged. However, if you can’t make that work she has offered to share her favorite healthy lunches for those with little time:
Can of Soup
This is my go-to lunch when I don't have anything prepared and ready. Choose soups that are low in sodium, not cream based, and have lots of vegetables. My favorites are canned black bean soup, Amy's organic lentil vegetable, or minestrone.
Lean Cuisine Salad Additions
I don't like most of the packaged microwavable "healthy" meals because they tend to not be very filling and the food is sort of drab. However, I do love these salad additions because they're a great way to introduce more vegetables into your diet and are quick and easy. You can just microwave these pouches and throw them on some greens and then you have a delicious, healthy, filling salad that you put essentially no work into making.
Frozen fruit with Plain Yogurt and Nuts
Go Greek for more protein or just do regular, but I recommend avoiding yogurt with sweeteners. I just buy bags of frozen fruit (usually berries) and put it in the fridge so it can thaw, mix that into some yogurt and then add some almonds (buy them pre-chopped if you don't have time to chop them yourself).
Healthy Hodge Podge
Lunches don't have to be a perfectly presented and a complete meal. Combining a variety of "snacks" can do the trick and prevent boredom. You can bring any combination of the following: string cheese, veggies, hummus, nuts, cottage cheese, an apple, a few mandarins, fruit cups (in water, not syrup), etc. These types of foods are also handy to keep at work to prevent yourself from snacking mindlessly on lower quality foods that may be hanging around the office.
On top of all that, Dr. Dow recommends if you feel tired in the afternoons, drink a big glass of water, go for a quick walk and eat a small snack (like listed above). She says that should get you through the rest of the day in a healthy manner.
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