When the work day rolls around to 3pm and we’re struggling with the afternoon slump, it’s easy to give in to the allure of the office vending machine for a quick sugar fix. Amcal Senior Pharmacist James Nevile says this craving is due to our natural body clock.
“Our energy levels start to slump later in the day as part of our normal circadian rhythm. Our natural reaction is to crave a sugar hit to help bring our energy levels back to normal and help us soldier on through the rest of the day,” James says. However, this afternoon snack might be doing your more harm than good, especially if your turning to chocolate and coffee to help your through the afternoon.
Gavin Aquilina is a nutritionist at Vision Personal Training, and he says the key to eating healthier at work and beating the 3pm sugar-craving is by adding healthy extras to your lunch.
Add these foods to your lunch for a healthy and filling mid-day meal
"Adding pumpkin to your salad to adds a healthy dose of complex carbohydrates that will keep you fuller for longer," says Gavin.
"Add flavoured protein powder to your yoghurt as a snack," says gavin. "It's challenging to find protein-rich snacks, so adding protein powder to your yoghurt is a great way to reach your recommended daily intake and feed your muscles. With various protein powder flavours available on the market, it also adds a little bit more excitement to your yoghurt."
"You can still use your favourite recipes but consider swapping things around such as white rice for quinoa or cauliflower rice."
"Instead of banana bread try zucchini bread, just add sweetness with honey and cinnamon. There is always a healthy alternative to your favourite treat," says Gavin.
Accredited Dietitian and Nutritionist, Rachel Scoular says there are healthy alternatives for afternoon snacls that will see you through the slump.
“Most snack foods tend to heavily processed, high in carbohydrates and low in nutrition,” Says Rachel. “Try to steer clear from these when choosing your regular snacks and save them for more special occasions. Instead, the best choice is a combo of low GI carbohydrates, paired with high protein foods. This balanced option is packed with nutrition and will keep you full for two to three hours.”
Try these healthy snacks
1. Switch for some sensible, slowly digestible carbs
Wholegrains or dairy foods are both great options and two food groups commonly missed. Most adults fail to meet their recommended 2.5 serves of dairy or reach their wholegrain target of 48g each day. These foods are low GI, meaning sugars will be released more slowly in the body, as a result you’re left feeling fuller for longer, great for weight control and stabilizing blood glucose levels. Wholegrains are also a great source of fibre, helping to keep our digestive system healthy and our bowels regular.
2. Pick up some protein
Look to have a high protein snack in the afternoon - think boiled eggs, unsalted nuts, Greek yoghurt, low fat cheese or a can of tuna. These options are all high in protein and healthy fats, meaning they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer. The body takes longer to break down protein and digest it, so protein-rich foods are a great option for you to fill up between meals.
3. Pair it together
Now that you’ve got the recipe for success, simply pair some low GI carbs with protein and your snack is sorted. Below are some of our favourite combos:
- Wholegrain crackers and low-fat cheese
- Corn Thins with ricotta
- 1 x tub of yoghurt and a piece of fruit
- Tzatziki dip with crispbread
- 1 x slice of low fat cheese on seedy toast
- Small handful of roasted nuts
- Natural peanut butter and a banana
- Hummus and wholegrain crackers
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