…and just like that, it’s 3 o’clock and I’m hungry again. I can’t stop yawning! NEED COFFEE. Everyone is bothering me this afternoon. Where are the doughnuts?

Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be one of the millions of people who experience an afternoon “crash.” There are various reasons why this happens but it’s actually completely normal. Before you hit the vending machine, read on for snack solutions to prevent this afternoon slump in your day.

What causes this drop in mood and spike in hunger? It can generally be tied to one of three things (or a combination of them):

  1. Circadian rhythms
  2. Sedentary lifestyle
  3. Blood sugar swings

In other words: the brain is telling us it’s time for a nap, the muscles are telling us to get up and make moves, or the stomach is telling us it’s time to eat. Let’s focus on the blood sugar aspect, since our work environments may not allow for a nap or exercise.

The idea is to have something to eat every 3 hours to keep the blood sugar level steady (think: gentle ocean wave). So if your lunch break is at noon, have a snack around 3pm. Allowing more than 3 to 4 hours to pass without a meal or snack will result in the blood sugar dropping and the “crash” feeling will ensue (think: roller coaster).

WHAT you eat matters! When we’re hungry, tired, or stressed, our brain tells us that it needs simple carbohydrates for a rapid surge of energy: sugar, potato chips, cookies, sweetened beverages, just to name a few. These foods are digested extremely quickly, so while we may perk up shortly after eating them (blood sugar rises), we will most likely crash again an hour later (blood sugar drops) and then the cycle continues. Overtime, these dramatic swings in blood sugar can negatively impact our long term blood sugar levels and health.

To prevent this, grab a complex carbohydrate (meaning it contains fiber) and pair it with a food containing protein or healthy fat. The protein or healthy fats found in foods slow down the body’s digestion of the foods. This process provides lasting energy, powering you through the rest of the day until your next meal rather than just a quick fix.

Give one of these snacks a try:

  1. Homemade trail mix: mixed nuts + dried cranberries + granola
  2. Waffle sandwich: Whole grain waffle (cut in half) + peanut butter
  3. Quick parfait: Single serve cup of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt + berries
  4. Guac and dippers: Single serve cup of guacamole + baby carrots + whole wheat crackers
  5. Snack bento box: cheese stick + clementine + cucumber slices

Pack up one of these snack options along with your lunch before you head to work for the day. Being prepared with a good-for-you snack within reach will help you avoid that afternoon crash and may improve your productivity at work!

If you’re looking for more snack ideas or for ways to keep your blood sugar steady, reach out to your team of Registered Dietitians at VillageNutritionTeam@wakefern.com