Do you ever catch yourself dozing off during a 2:00 pm meeting or feel like you can’t get anything done because your brain fog is too dense? You’re not alone! Many people experience the afternoon slump; feeling unfocused, unmotivated and tired. Although many health factors can contribute to this (including sleep habits and stress levels) what you eat for lunch also plays a huge role in afternoon productivity.
It isn’t uncommon that people skip lunch, or report having less than 15 minutes to gobble down their food before it’s time for the next zoom meeting, project, or appointment. The truth is, lunch is a key meal for sustaining energy, balancing blood sugar, and fueling afternoon tasks. If you experience constant fatigue in the afternoons, a balanced lunch could be the key to boosting your energy.
The good news is, you don’t need to eat anything extravagant! A healthy lunch includes a lean protein to keep you full, whole grains to provide essential energy from B-vitamins and complex carbs, fiber-rich fruits and veggies with vitamins to fuel your brain, and of course some hydration to keep blood flowing properly.
Here's a few ideas that will skyrocket afternoon productivity:
Bento Box: A bento box visually looks like a nutrient-dense snack plate. Not only is it easy to assemble, but it will fuel you just as much as a fancy meal! Here are a few examples:
Salad In A Jar: Becoming increasingly popular, salad jars made ahead of time are perfect for any busy weekday. Make time to prep salad jars at the beginning of the week so you can have this easy grab-and-go option. Layer from the bottom up with dressing, beans, whole grains, veggies, protein, nuts and seeds, then top it with your favorite bed of lettuce. Shake it up when you’re ready to eat!
Grain Bowls: Toss together a quick protein and fiber-rich bowl. Save time using microwaveable brown rice or quinoa, canned beans, and top with fresh veggies, cheese, or other protein-rich options. An Avocado Black Bean Bowl or Kale Black Bean Rice Bowl are easy options to prep ahead and save time!
Build A Better Sandwich: There’s nothing more simple than a sandwich for lunch. Incorporate these energizing nutrients:
Add some crunchy veggies like romaine lettuce, cucumbers, or bell peppers
Experiment with different spreads like hummus, mashed avocado, or pesto
Try different breads like rye, pumpernickel, or whole grain sourdough
Use canned salmon or tuna, chicken, turkey, or eggs for protein
Simple Smoothie: Who says you can’t have a smoothie for lunch? If you have access to a blender during lunch, this is an easy option. Add protein from Greek yogurt, protein powders, cottage cheese, or milk & toss in a few handfuls of spinach. Add a cup of your favorite frozen fruit, and off you go to accomplish the rest of the day! Try this Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie or Mango-Coconut Green Smoothie to kickstart afternoon energy.
Eating lunch is essential for reducing brain fog, fatigue, and afternoon hunger pangs. Grab your calendar and jot down lunch ideas for the week. Coordinate busy days with meals that are quick and easy, like a smoothie or salad jar. Fuel your brain with essential nutrients from lean protein, whole grains, veggies, fruit, and water, and feel the benefits as you’re checking everything off the afternoon to-do list!