That afternoon slump can hit hard—with some days that leave you wondering if you’ll even make it through the second half of the workday. That’s why lunch and midday snacking at work can be a major life savor for increasing and stabilizing energy levels, mood and cognitive thinking for greater productivity.
Who knows, a well-rounded, hearty lunch might provide so much fuel where you feel motivated and capable enough to power through that second half of the day with even greater energy than you had earlier.
Lunch is prime time for enhancing nutrient stores and focus, so don’t let that second main meal of the day go to waste with a lack in high quality nutrition—or worse, a lack in any energy source, which might happen when you skip it or nibble on a small snack for convenience, instead.
Here are a few common mistakes you might be making with your lunch, which could be jeopardizing your workflow and productivity levels for that afternoon “slump” and the latter part of the day.
Eating Something Too Heavy or in Excess
Eating too large of a lunch or a meal that feels especially dense in nature, meaning its rich texture and satiating factor can be particularly powerful, will actually backfire.
Instead of having more energy to tackle your next set of projects, the excessive portion or thickness and “feel,” will leave you feeling lethargic and bloated—plus you might even have GI distress too, where you’re spending more minutes in the bathroom than you’d like. Keep lunch light but still filling, with a balanced nutritional profile.
Think: a protein-packed salad or cauliflower rice power bowl, a classic PB&J sandwich or a lettuce wrap style trio of tacos or fajitas, using tofu or a “faux-meat” substitute for chicken, eggs or fish, along with avocado, tomatoes, bell peppers, as well as spinach or kale.
You’re Skipping it Altogether
The worst thing you can do is skip lunch in general, where your body stays in fasting mode with a nutrient and calorie deficit for hours—way longer than is best and most useful! Make sure to eat something, even if you’re running around on the go or have back-to-back appointments lined up.
You can even eat a few snacks, spaced in shorter intervals, all of which might equal the nutritional value you’d expect and require in a lunch or meal.
Keep snacks on hand, like nuts and seeds, high-protein keto granola, roasted bean and legume snacks or kale chips, which you can make at home and sprinkle with spices or nutritional yeast, the latter which is protein-rich and resembles that “cheezy” texture found in most traditional non-vegan kale chips.
Or keep a few plant-based protein bars and keto protein bars safe in your office fridge, which prolongs their shelf-life by keeping the ingredients fresher, with less likelihood of going rancid due to heat or humidity, which might fill the room.
Ordering Takeout or Grabbing Fast-Food Too Often
While takeout can be convenient, often times affordable and yes, delicious (there’s no denying that one!), that nasty habit of eating takeout and fast-food menu items too regularly will add up.
And fast–you’ll start to notice the effects that come from higher intake of unhealthy fats, sodium, carbs and sugar—as well as calories–which are in surprisingly sneaky and sky-high amounts in most of your favorite go-to staples.
Think: greasy, vegetable chow mein that’s swimming in sauce over a mountain of noodles or rice. Or consider a thick, jam-packed bean-based burrito that’s not skimping on those fillings and might resemble the size of both your hands put together. Instead, make fast-food an indulgence on occasion and meal-prep healthy lunches at home to bring to work with you—it’ll take the guesswork out of figuring out what’s best to eat and you’ll also save money too!
Going Overboard by Snacking on Whatever is Left in the Kitchen Too
Lastly, let’s say you had a nourishing, balanced lunch–great! What’s not so great? Snacking on your co-workers’ lunch leftovers and other treats or snacks they’ve generously (or perhaps wisely...) offered to everyone to nibble on freely until the end of the day.
If you’re still snacking post-lunch, especially if you’re not hungry and don’t really need the extra calories or fuel, as well as if you’re grabbing another bite or two several times throughout the second half of the day.
The temptation to go back again and again can surely hook you in–yet unfortunately, it doesn’t do your body, brain and weight, when measured over time, any favors. Resist the urge and prioritize special snacks or occasions where that added indulgence is worthwhile, instead of letting it become habitual.