Eating out at lunch time can be costly. According to Forbes, the average American spends roughly $1,000 a year doing so. Not only are we spending a great deal, we may suffer from a midday slump afterwards. When drowsiness sets in, we’re not always able to crank out the workload with the same amount of gusto we had during the earlier part of the day.
Here are some ideas to banish the midday slump and turbocharge your energy without breaking the bank
1. Choose low-cost sources of protein.
When purchasing lunch items, protein doesn’t have to be pricey. Lunches including eggs, chicken, beans and nuts will help keep energy levels up while keeping food costs down. Chili is an affordable option and isn’t just for Super Bowl parties. It’s an informal make-ahead meal that can give you the protein you need to keep your “A” game going at work. Nutritionist Christine Hickson points out that protein combined with a complex whole grain slows down digestion which burns energy more slowly. Therefore, allowing your energy to last longer. Be sure to balance out the lunch for the win.
2. Stick with a classic combo.
Many restaurants offers combos at lunch time. Mimic this offering from home to spend less with the right mix of ingredients. Hickson suggests a lentil soup together with half of a whole-grain chicken wrap or a half grilled cheese sandwich and homemade tomato soup as economical and palatable options. You can also try tuna on whole grain bread and apple slices or Greek yogurt with blueberries and some high fiber cereal (like Bran Flakes). Whole grain pasta salad with tuna, chicken or turkey are easy to make as well.
3. Bring crackers back to life at lunch.
If you miss the crunch and texture of crackers minus the flour, reclaim them with a healthier version. Health writer Erin Newman suggests trying flavorful rosemary and sesame ones that contain protein in every bite. Sesame seeds have 1.6 grams per teaspoon to be exact. Have them with hummus, olive tapenade, guacamole or even a cold soup like gazpacho as a part of your lunch.
4. Bench the bread.
Wendi Combs of JubileeHealth.org believes in swapping out bread for lettuce to increase energy levels. Combs suggests using Bibb or iceberg lettuce to wrap up seasoned ground beef or chicken. She adds that you can also include items like shredded carrots, cilantro, basil, mint, onion and avocado for more flavor. This is especially easy to prepare if you happen to have ground meat as a meal the night before and can easily pack it for lunch the next day.
5. Eat nature’s candy to recharge.
Fruit lovers rejoice! Packing your lunch bag with treats from Mother Nature as part of a balanced lunch can recharge your batteries and satisfy your sweet tooth all in one shot. According to LiveStrong.com, good options are cantaloupe, oranges, papaya and bananas to keep you fueled throughout the day. These vitamin B-packed fruits guard against fatigue by maintaining blood sugar levels. No more staring at the clock waiting to leave while finding ways to keep your eyelids from closing. The fiber and natural sugars in these fruits keep your blood sugar levels stable instead of causing a spike which leads to a high and then a quick low in your energy levels.
6. Water to the rescue.
While choosing the right food makes a big difference, staying hydrated is important. Author Thomas Fuller once said, “We never know the worth of water until the well is dry.” That quote holds true for our energy too. As much as we rely on food to keep us going, hydration plays a big part. Taking in enough water is essential to keep our energy levels up. According to WebMD, staying hydrated plays a big role in combating fatigue. Bring a thermos full of water and fuel up throughout the day. It’s a cost effective and healthy choice.
So if you’re perpetually yawning after lunch, give your diet a wake up call. What you decide to pack can make all of the difference. A few tweaks in what we choose along with hydration and snacks can replenish energy without depleting your wallet. A midday slump doesn’t have to stop your productivity dead in its tracks or deplete your wallet. Making better choices can be your ticket to boosting energy at lunch time.