How to Eat to Avoid the Midday Slump

It was coming. I could feel it. I was trying desperately to will it away, but, inevitably the clock struck 3:00 pm. Suddenly, I was exhausted. The thought of typing on my keyboard seemed like a daunting task, not to mention I could barely keep your eyes open.

‘Argh!’ I thought to myself. When this happened yesterday, I swore it wouldn’t happen again. But I'd reach into my desk drawer, into my stash of quarters. As I walked into the break room to get a can of Dr. Pepper, I wondered how to avoid this midday slump tomorrow. 

Sound familiar? Up until a few years ago, this was me every day, like clockwork.

It was a vicious cycle that I knew needed breaking. My daily Dr. Pepper habit was sabotaging my daily workout but didn't know how quit.

Then one day, I decided that enough was enough. I was disgusted with myself. I was letting Dr. Pepper control me.

So I "reverse engineered" my day by tracking my time backward from 3 pm to see what I did throughout the day that got me to that mid-afternoon slump. 

Here's what I learned:

1. The best place to start is with breakfast. Before I even talk about what to eat, let me just say that it’s important TO EAT breakfast. 

Your body has just been in a state of rest, relaxation, and recharging for the past several hours. It needs fuel in the form of clean carbohydrates and lean protein to get going in the morning. 

Instead of Captain Crunch (or any other processed cereal) and milk, why not go for oatmeal (steel cut is my personal favorite!) with almonds and blueberries? Or have a couple of hardboiled eggs that you can grab-n-go in a hurry. Pair them with a brown rice cake with almond butter and you’re starting your day off on the right foot.

2. I also realized how important it is to remember to drink water throughout the day. We all know how important hydration is, but how many of us are honestly well-hydrated? I wasn't - and Dr. Pepper doesn't count! Dehydration is guaranteed to cause sleepiness and fatigue. Imagine how surprised I was when I made the connection that a few glasses of water was one of the vast differences between my 3 pm exhaustion and vitality.

3. And then there are snacks. Besides Dr. Pepper, I used to dip into the free 100 calorie Oreos and Chips Ahoy packs that my company kept stocked in the break room. Snacks that are only 100 calories sound pretty healthy, right? The problem with those snacks is that those 100 calories are empty. Instead of nutrients, they are full of unhealthy fats and sugar. 

You want to stay away from snacks like candy bars and most packaged foods with excess (and usually rancid) oils and sugars. The fatty foods (oils) will make you feel lethargic, and the sugars will provide an initial spike, but then you’ll feel the afternoon slump (hello crash and burn!) as you come down from the sugar high. 

Instead, take a few minutes to prepare homemade trail mix with almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Goji berries, and Incan berries. For sweetness, you can add some cacao nibs or mini dark chocolate chips (I have used the Enjoy Life brand because their products are free of common allergens).

The midday madness doesn’t have to continue. I learned that it is possible to control how your body feels by nourishing it with healthy food (and water) throughout the day. 

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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.