The clock ticks past 3pm and suddenly it is harder to focus, your stomach is churning and you are hit with a wave of fatigue. Welcome to the infamous 3pm slump. A fall in energy levels many people grapple with daily.
The lucky Spanish and Italians are able to indulge in an afternoon nap, shown to restore wakefulness and productivity. Closer to home, the standard response to this dip in energy tends to be a scurry to the nearest vending or coffee machine.
This can hit the spot for a time, however when blood sugar levels drop quickly the dreaded crash and burn tends to follow, not to mention other undesirable side effects.
A 3pm slump is so common due to a fall in blood sugar levels and body temperature which traditionally occurs several hours after lunch. According to naturopath and National Head of Clinics for Endeavour College of Natural Health Sheila Murray, there is no mistaking your symptoms once glucose levels hit a low point a few hours after your last meal.
“As the sugar runs out of the system, there is simply not enough fuel feeding the brain and muscles, and people experience ‘brain fog’ and need to sit down to conserve energy,” said Sheila.
“We see a large number of clients through our clinics seeking our help to remain alert and productive through this period of the day.”
Sheila said there were several elements which could exaggerate the effects of the 3pm slump.
“It is best to keep stress and consumption of drinks with high caffeine or sugar levels to a minimum. A lack of exercise will also make the mid-afternoon energy dip more pronounced, so getting a walk at lunchtime can help balance energy levels later in the day.”
The good news is there are simple and effective techniques available which are far healthier than reaching for the nearest caffeine drink or snack bar.
“Feed your body high quality protein and lower GI foods. They will take your body longer to break down and you will avoid the highs and lows associated with unhealthier dietary habits. Eating high protein snacks will tune your body to crave what it needs to run effectively, as opposed to craving quick fixes.”
Sheila’s slump fighting foods
Organic boiled eggs are a fabulous afternoon snack. A rich source of B12 for energy and folic acid with six grams of high quality protein per egg, it is one of nature’s most complete foods.
Walnuts are a wonderful energy source. It has always been amusing to me that they look like a brain, given they do such a great job to feed the brain. One serve provides up to 90% of the recommended daily requirement of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Add nuts, plain yoghurt and cinnamon to your fruit to lower the overall GI of your dish and balance blood sugar.
Miso soup from a packet is a convenient and delicious high protein, low GI snack which stimulates digestion and energises the body.
Fenugreek tea and Oolong tea will help reduce blood sugar levels. Fenugreek seeds are also delicious toasted and added to salads.
Bitters are an excellent herbal option for balancing blood sugar and aiding digestion. And yes, Sheila means the combination of bitter herbs you will find in the popular lemon, lime and bitters and Manhattan cocktails. The healthiest way to combine bitters in a drink is with soda. You can also buy bitters in teas, capsules or tablets.
Traps to avoid
Trail mix is great in theory but beware of your serving size as there are meant to be three serves in a pack and it can be easy to devour a whole packet in one setting. The carbohydrate component of trail mix is actually quite high due to the sultanas, chocolate chips and goji berries.
Be wary of juices, even if they are 100% pure fruit juice. Combining juice with mineral water is delicious and a great way to lower the sugar content of the drink.
About Sheila Murray
Sheila Murray is a respected naturopath and author driven by a passion to support people at all levels of health and wellness to live the happiest and healthiest lives possible.
Sheila has lectured extensively in the areas of herbal medicine, nutrition and iridology and has managed a high profile health food store and a series of thriving naturopathy clinics across Australia.
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