Does your work day tend to follow a predictable pattern, one where you start off full of energy (fueled by those three extra-large mugs of coffee), work straight through lunch, but then start yawning by mid-afternoon? Are still more coffee and a candy bar or two, or maybe a Monster energy drink and a bag of Cheetos, the only ways you can stay awake ’til quitting time? This is what Dr. Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS (Director of Nutrition at meal delivery service Freshly) describes as that dreaded “2 p.m. feeling,” and if you want to know why it’s hitting you every single day, the clue lies just a few sentences back.
Let’s rewind a bit … ah, here we go, you worked]\ through lunch! Oops, that’s where things started to go wrong. Whether or not you began your day with a balanced breakfast, Scheller says that lunch is something that should not be skipped, since “fuel provided at lunchtime is extremely important for setting us up for a productive afternoon and relaxed evening.”
Eating the right lunch helps you to focus and concentrate
Not only can leaving lunch off your schedule lead to making those poor mid-afternoon snack choices, but Scheller warns that not eating enough, or the right kinds of foods, during the day may cause you to overeat once you get home. She advises to “focus on your mid-day meal [so] you’ll be less likely to overindulge at night.”
So what, exactly, should you be eating for lunch? Will making time for a quick swing through Mickey D’s drive-thru do the trick? Well, probably not. Scheller says that what you eat during the day is very important since the foods you choose are “critical in your ability to focus and concentrate.” She recommends eating vegetables for lunch every day in order to provide the vitamins and nutrients necessary for optimal brain function, as well as protein and maybe dairy to help keep your energy up.
Two nutritious lunch recommendations are an easy to prep in advance: salad and either leftover or “planned-over” oven-roasted fish or chicken with veggies, although you could also mix things up with Greek yogurt, oatmeal, an omelet … anything you like, as long as you keep it healthy, keep it easy, and keep it in the break room fridge. (With your name on it, so Charlene knows to keep her paws off!)
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