The lunchtime slump

Wondering why one minute you feel wide awake and bushy tailed and the next lethargic and tired? More than likely it's the food you are eating.

23 Feb 2007

When you load your system with caffeine, sugar and fatty foods your body works harder to process them. Having too much caffeine during the day also leads to feeling lethargic as caffeine drains the adrenal glands, causing a lack of energy.

Sugar junkies

According to registered dietician Lisa Rubin, the 'afternoon slump', as it is commonly known, is caused by the sugar and caffeine rushes your body deals with throughout the day.

The snack diet for many at work are fizzy drinks, chips and chocolates. According to Rubin this is a menu for a good snooze in front of your computer. She adds that this combination gives you a sudden jolt of energy that fizzles into a low quickly. Any processed sugary foods, such as morning doughnuts or a white bread sandwich for lunch, will more than likely make you feel sluggish later in the day.

Office bound individuals might feel that it is more convenient and cheaper buying doughnuts, chips and chocolates, than buying a salad or a healthy whole-wheat sandwich.

Eating healthy does not mean eating expensive

"A simple idea for a snack is fat free peanut butter on pro-vita biscuits or cottage cheese on a slice of seed bread," Rubin advises.

Easy snacks such as a peanut butter sandwich, takes longer to process and sustains your energy levels for longer.

Eating healthy also do not mean living on a diet of rice cakes which might tastes like cardboard for some. Instead try dried fruit to ease that peckish feeling or grab a smoothie from your local health shop.

Sleeping pill in a peel

Keep in mind that according to some sources certain fruits do not give energy but rather adds to the tired feeling. Their is an argument that bananas is a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium that is a type of muscle relaxant.

Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that's linked to alertness.

Apart from eating too much sweet things during the day not eating enough during the day will definitely make you feel sleepy.

According to Rubin, the perfect menu for an alert working day would be a breakfast of fat-free peanut butter or jam on a slice of seed load, followed by a healthy lunch of chicken and vegetable pasta salad. For those peckish moments snack on some dried fruit, un-roasted, unsalted nuts and a smoothie.

Her words of advise are simple, "Stay away from the vending machine."

Lisa Rubin is a registered dietician, she graduated from the University of Cape Town in 1996 and has been in the practice for 11 years. She is based in Milnerton.

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