Avoid afternoon slump and burnout
You know it all too well…
That sluggish feeling that creeps up, usually anywhere around 1-4 pm.
I call it the ‘afternoon slump’ … and it plagued me for years, especially when my kids were babies. With deadlines to meet, it didn’t matter how tempted I felt to climb into bed with my kiddos during their nap times. These were my designated working hours. I had to push through, even when it meant literally nodding off at my desk.
If I had known then what I know now… things would have been a lot easier for me. I would have been able to consistently feel:
- In-control as I worked to manage ‘all the things’ as a remote working mom
- More calm confidence
- Energetic and clear-headed
- Better balance (the ways we choose to deal with stress and fatigue effect everything from weight and hormonal issues, to mood, mental-emotional agility, and mindset).
Since then, I’ve learned a LOT about the links between stress, fatigue, and nutrition. We can nourish our bodies so we have the energy we need to feel more calm, focused, and efficient!
Avoid the downfalls of daytime exhaustion
As much as it pains us to suffer lack of productivity, there’s more at risk than simply feeling sluggish and inefficient. Daytime sleepiness can bombard us with secondary problems that reach into every area of our lives.
- brain fog
- lack of motivation
- feelings of frustration, overwhelm, and stress
Sometimes, this is solely the result of being overtired. Often, however, these problems are compounded by our desperate reach for quick-fix energy boosts that don’t actually deliver effective, sustainable results. Some of the most common include:
- sweets cravings (candy bars or chocolate)
- binging on carbs/ starchy food (bread, donuts, cake)
- overreliance on caffeine
When we’re grappling with fatigue, it’s natural for our bodies to send us signals to help resolve it quickly. It’s a survival mechanism that’s hardwired into the primitive parts of our brains. This is why we crave foods that elevate our blood sugars (and energy levels) quickly.
Sweets and simple carbs do this marvelously. However, what goes up must come down, as the saying goes. This applies to blood sugar levels too. When we spike them quickly, they drop quickly, as well. We end up feeling more depleted than before, and it perpetuates a vicious cycle.
Caffeine is another common crutch that seems to help boost energy but backfires in the long-run.
Client case study
One of my clients was drinking 14 cups of coffee per day!
Her entire sleep/energy rhythm was thrown out of whack.
It affected everything from her ability to meet deadlines at work, motivation to exercise, and horrible irritability with her husband and coworkers.
Through a simple stairstep process, we were able to wean her habit down to just 2-3 cups of coffee per day!
This one small lifestyle shift resulted in…
- better productivity at work
- more energy to invest into her side business
- maintaining a consistent exercise routine
- enjoying much more patience with the people she cares about, even when they were being extra difficult
- starting her days with a productivity- and mood-boosting morning routine
(she’d wanted to start journaling for a long time but hadn’t been able to drag herself out of bed early enough to do it until now)
The power of nutrition
It’s no secret that for many of us, eating real food during our workdays is easily forgotten or resisted in favor of checking off to-dos. Hustle culture and FOMO have us scrambling most days just to keep up. We live in a fast-food and drive-thru-espresso world. The good news is, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to maximize the returns on one of the best investments we can make: nourishing ourselves. I’ve compiled this short-but-powerful list of energy boosting foods that you can start using right away to keep you going strong through all your personal and professional endeavors.
TOP 7 FOODS to boost energy
1. Fresh spinach
These powerhouse leafy greens are loaded with iron and B vitamins – some of the most potent energy nutrients available. The B vitamin complex literally converts the food we eat into energy for our bodies and brains.
Enjoy spinach in crunchy salads or savory soups. It’s also easy to include at breakfast time: Blend into smoothies with blueberries or pineapple, or chop and stir into scrambled eggs.
2. Brazil nuts
A little goes a long way with these. I take 2-3 daily, like you would a chewable vitamin. They have a mild nutty flavor and pack an energy punch via selenium.
These little indigo gems are high in manganese, which helps convert carbs & fats to energy.
serve on oatmeal or plain nonfat Greek yogurt
OR mix into Whole Grain pancake batter
4. Beans (black, kidney & chickpeas are my favorites)
Wrap them up in a whole grain tortilla w/ spinach, peppers & tomatoes
see Southwest Quinoa Bowl below!
Cook this, as well as brown rice (Energy Food #6), in batches to save time (about 8 servings per batch).
(pictured: Southwest Quinoa Bowl with black beans, diced bell pepper, tomato, avocado, and cilantro)
Rice, quinoa, and beans are carbs foods… but don’t freak out! They are COMPLEX carbs.
In small servings (about 1/2 c.) they provide the long-lasting energy & alertness our bodies NEED by stabilizing blood sugars, without packing on pounds.
Side note: If you have read my book, Eat to Beat Stress, you already know that brown rice, blueberries, and spinach are super-stress-busting foods also! I call these superfoods because they pack a ton of nutrients & benefits into relatively low calories.
7. Shakeology smoothie
I make QUICK, nutrient-packed smoothies using this superfood powder that contains brown rice, quinoa, and spinach, as well as dozens of other superfood ingredients, including these energy-maximizing superstars:
>>> maca root (also known as ‘Peruvian ginseng’)
>>> ashwagandha (most prominent ayurvedic Rasayana herb)
>>> matcha green tea powder (loaded with health benefits in addition to highly efficient energy metabolism).
Need MORE help with high-energy, stress-busting meals & snacks?