one day last week around noon, our team found ourselves short on a few precious smoothie supplies. We mindlessly ordered a delivery of smoothies from a local juice bar instead and by 3PM the entire team had crashed hard.
It took us a minute to connect the dots between those sugar-fueled smoothies and our all-out hump day slump, but once we gave the ingredients in our order a closer look, we realized the connection. Smoothies made at the office normally contain quite a bit of fat and protein, not to mention herbs, greens and other superfoods. Turns out, the average smoothie delivery just can’t hang with our bodies’ mid-day needs.
We’re usually much more mindful about our office day lunch plans, but we know the work lunch struggle is real for so many. After our post-smoothie meltdown, we had a surge of compassion for those who deal with this daily! With that in mind, here are our top tips for curbing that 3pm crash-and-burn to keep mind and body on point all through the afternoon…
6 Golden Rules For An Energizing Lunch
Slow down + Exhale | Rule numero uno: do not inhale your lunch. Strange as it sounds, digestion begins in the mouth. Especially when eating at your desk or with colleagues who have a lot to say, it’s easy to inhale that smoothie or salad without a thought. But be sure to chew whatever you’re eating well (we won’t provide any hard and fast rules, you get it) to help your body digest sufficiently. Some wellness pros even go so far as to encourage ‘chewing’ your water to encourage the body to begin producing saliva.
You may have heard the term fight or flight when it comes to stress and our nervous system. The lesser known flipside of that mode is rest and digest. Rest and digestion are closely linked. Finding a restful moment to enjoy your lunch is crucial for healthy digestion. Digestion takes up a huge amount of the body’s energy reserves — get ahead of that afternoon energy slump by digesting properly.
Watch blood sugar | A simple carb or sugar-rich lunch may provide you with a rush of energy at the start, but it can cause blood sugar to crash in the afternoon. Be sure to include a healthful dose of fiber, as well as protein and fat in your lunch — these will help your body slow burn whatever you’re consuming. If you’re a smoothie for lunch kind of gal, that may mean throwing in more greens or whole berries for fiber, full-fat oils or a nut butter for healthy fats. Kick it up a notch with a good scoop of clean protein powder to keep you full well into the early evening.
Listen to your body | Stop eating when you’re 80% full. Eating a lunch that is too big can zap your energy. Filling yourself to the brim — even with a healthy lunch — means your body will be hard at work digesting all that you ate, leaving less energy for good decision making and creative projects. If you ordered takeout and don’t want the huge portion to go to waste, simply stash 20% of it in the office fridge and enjoy it a few hours later. As studied by the author of the Blue Zone Diet, populations with the longest lifespans eat to about 80% satiety at every meal to manage their energy levels and metabolism.
Add digestives | Want a lunch hack that’ll also save you time getting to work in the morning? Try stashing a few of your daily supplements in your desk. Take a few supplements mid-day rather than in the morning — t’ll also give you an excuse to pick up a cute pill organizer like this one. Digestive enzymes and probiotics will help you digest. B vitamins, a daily multi and vitamin C will keep your energy levels high and are great candidates for mid-day consumption.
Take up a tea ritual | Stash a good digestive tea in your desk and try cultivating a post-lunch tea routine to ease your body and mind back into a comfortable afternoon workflow. Licorice, ginger and mint are a few of our favorite teas for digestion, but for a minimal hit of caffeine try matcha. Tea is rich in so many phytonutrients you’ll be adding a dose of skin-healthy nutrition to your daily routine too.
Just add vitamin D | Depending on where you find yourself for lunch on any given workday, find opportunities for sunshine and a light walk. Get your body moving to help burn lunch off and for your daily dose of vitamin D. The fresh air will also give your senses a jolt in the best way possible, so make it happen whenever you can. If an outdoor walk just isn’t in the cards, at least stand up, stretch and take a quick stroll around the office.
4 Energizing Lunch Ideas
smarter Smoothies | These low-sugar smoothies were designed by celebrity nutritionist, Kelly LeVeque, to balance blood sugar and satisfy all your nutritional needs. The key is blending the right amounts of protein, healthy fat, fiber and greens — the result is your cravings will be kept under control and your energy levels won’t plummet.
Mason Jar Soups | We love these four recipes for homemade soup in a jar. Full of fiber-rich veggies, nourishing broth and other energy-boosting, these lunches are simple to prep and easy to digest. They’re also a great way to get the power of fresh herbs into your daily diet. We love them as a portable office lunch or as a healthful snack that’ll keep you sated until your next meal.
everything in a Bowl | We went through a quinoa cooker phase here at HQ — bring just about anything the office from salad ingredients to leftovers and pile them up in a bowl. See the piece on our favorites here. Another easy option: this 5-minute nourish bowl from one of our new favorite cookbooks.
Sheet Pan Leftovers | Grab this effortless one pan recipe for salmon and root veggies with sage pesto. Whip it up the night before (or on the weekend) with nearly no effort, and enjoy a balanced lunch that won’t tank your blood sugar — just remember the 80% rule.
What’s your go-to strategy for managing your energy in the afternoons?