Nutrition Tips for the Midday Slump

That moment in the afternoon that all the sudden your energy dips and you become unmotivated and all you want to do is just zone out and chill, if not take a nap for a few minutes.

Why does it happen? Can we stop it? Can we help it with nutrition? Let’s talk about it.

Why Is There a Midday Slump? Can We Avoid It?

Midday slump is absolutely normal and something we can work with. The reason why it happens is because of it being part of our circadian rhythm. It’s an internal process that occurs every 24 hours. It’s part of our sleep pattern and why even during our sleep we go in a and out of REM (deep sleep) and light sleep.

The time between 2-4pm is part of the rhythm and your energy dips for people who wake up around 6-8am.

It’s perfectly normal, but there are some factors that could make this dip in our energy less, so let’s talk about what those are.

High-Protein and Complex Carb Lunch

A meal can impact how we feel hours later. Since we are talking about the midday slump, let’s look at our lunch.

When we have a meal that is “heavy” or contains a lot of starchy, rich, and processed foods (i.e. Burger and French fries) our blood sugar can spike and crash. The other part to this is that with heavier meals you can feel more sluggish right after eating.

Instead of things like potatoes, pasta, and for some even a slice of bread, go for complex carbs like brown rice, quinoa, vegetables, etc.

With complex carbs they have a higher fiber content so they digest slower and your blood sugar won’t spike and drop.

Don’t worry – you can save the pasta for dinner.

The other factor for lunch is having it be higher protein. Protein will not crash your blood sugar and it digests slower and keeps you fuller longer.

Photo by Pratik Bachhav on Unsplash

Balanced Midday Snack

If you are not used to eating a lighter lunch, then having a midday snack that is balanced with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs, will help keep you full until dinner and can help with the midday slump.

When you start feeling the yawns come on, take a break and pull out the apple and peanut butter, or a snack box with fresh fruit, nuts, and some cheese if your not allergic.

This can help with balancing out your blood sugar, keep you full, and gives you a reason to take a break and munch.

Hydration

I don’t know about y’all, but when my day gets busy I can be barely sipping on my coffee all morning and before I know it I’m hungry and it’s time for lunch.

Dehydration is a common first sign on fatigue and headaches. So if that sounds like you around lunch or mid-afternoon, keep the fluids going. Make sure you are drinking enough.

Moderate coffee use (2-ish cups) is not dehydrating, however it’s still good to drink water or herbal tea, even iced herbal tea, throughout the day.

Photo by Bluewater Globe on Unsplash

Not A Time To Have Foods Your Sensitive or Allergic To

For lunch or for a midday snack, if there is a food you are sensitive to or allergic to, try not having them if you usually do at lunch and see if it helps.

With food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances they all cause differing levels of low-grade (and high-grade for severe allergies) inflammation.

Low-grade inflammation isn’t always seen or felt, but common symptoms are fatigue and brain fog, along with a whole list of other symptoms.

So if you do have food sensitivity issues, consider this when planning your meals and picking out your order for lunch.

Change It Up

During that midday slump time, you become less productive. Some might think that they have to get a project done ASAP so no breaks until it’s complete. But in actuality, if you take a break, preferably 20 minutes but even 5 minutes is better than nothing, and do something different, it can boost productivity and you’ll get just as much done without having to force yourself. Plus you’ve given your body and brain a quick minute to recharge.

If you have a physical job, take a minute and sit down. Hydrate or have your snack.

If you have a desk job, get up, walk, stretch, etc. Get your body moving.

If you can’t get up and walk or stretch, try to do something that is automatic. Something you don’t have to think about. Like cleaning out the junk mail in your email. This is the time you can make more mistakes so doing something mindless is better than continuing with a huge report or project.

Putting It All Together

The midday slump is natural and something you can work with your body and let yourself take a minute, even take a 20 minute or less nap if you need to.

There are a few things you can do to help the dip in energy not be so drastic with what you have for lunch and a midday snack. Have a higher protein, less starchy lunch and snack to keep your blood sugar leveled. And always stay hydrated throughout the day.

And take a break, do something different. Whether that’s sitting down or walking for a few minutes, change it up.

Nutrition Tips When On Vacation

Usually around this time of year we go on a vacation – whether that’s a short weekend trip or a full week so I thought that I’d share some nutrition tips when you’re on vacation.

I don’t know about ya’ll but I want to feel rested, restored, and rejuvenated after vacation. But when we go on vacation, we eat out more, our eating patterns change, and that can effect how we feel. So I thought I’d share some tips with ya’ll.

Photo by Joan Tran on Unsplash

Stay Hydrated

When I’m getting ready for the day before having my breakfast and coffee, I sip on water. I try to do this regularly, but especially on vacation.

When you are eating differently and, if you’re like me, eating foods that I love but my body has a hard time digesting, it’s important for you to stay hydrated for your digestive health so it can break down food properly and move things along. When eating differently it can cause constipation, and a simple thing to do to help prevent that is staying hydrated.

Another reason why this is important is because water helps with your energy. When dehydrated, one of the first signs you can have is fatigue. When cells are not properly hydrated, your ability to produce energy is reduce.

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Fruits and Veggies

You might not want to think about what you are and are not eating, but keeping in mind having some sort of fruit or vegetable with every meal helps.

When eating out and eating heavier meals, having fruits and vegetables throughout the day helps because of fiber but also with keeping things lighter. When I have heavier meals back to back I feel more sluggish, so keeping it fresh and light, even with one of the meals, keeps me going.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Move

You don’t have to keep up with your normal workout routine when on vacation, but staying physically active during that time does help when you are back home and needing to get back to your usual grind.

Physical activity does help with energy level by increasing oxygen in the blood and endorphins. It also helps you sleep better at the end of the day for a deeper nights sleep.

Which brings us to my last point.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Caffeine and Alcohol

Everyone reacts to caffeine and alcohol differently, so you know your own beat, but I thought I’d share a few things to keep in mind.

For people who have too much caffeine it can result in insomnia, feeling anxious, or digestive issues, especially when drinking coffee. Those are things you don’t want in your usual routine, and definitely not on vacation.

One thing to consider with alcohol is it’s effect on sleep. Alcohol does have a sedative effect and make people feel drowsy and can help someone fall asleep, but it reduces and interrupts our REM or deep sleep. Many that have an alcoholic drink a few hours before bed will find their sleep interrupted and wake up in the middle of the night.

Sleep is always an important factor to me, but especially on vacation, I want to feel rested and not exhausted and mentally foggy that can result from a lack of sleep.

Video Coming Tomorrow

Tomorrow I’ll have a video that talks about these points and a recipe for a pizza I made last year for our anniversary while sheltering in place!

Keep finding your beet and I’ll see ya’ll tomorrow!

Tips for Decreasing High Blood Pressure

Family history of High Blood Pressure or Hypertension is one of the top things people have checked on my Nutrition Assessment. Either they are dealing with it or they have close family that has it. High Blood Pressure can be due to many different things like age, poor eating habits, lifestyle, constant stress, etc.

How can you get control of your blood pressure? Here are 10 factors to consider.

1 | Exercise

Regular exercise helps put healthy stress on the body for it to cope with it better and know how to handle it. The more regular you exercise, the less likely your blood pressure will increase under normal activities, including when we are under marginal stress.

Not used to exercise? Start with a walk an a pace where you are slightly out of breath but can still talk through it for 10 minutes. Increase 5 minutes every day. Once you are up to 30 minutes, increase your pace and start over again.

2 | Oatmeal

With oatmeal being high in fiber, low in fat, low in sodium, and something filling to start your day, it will help keep your blood pressure at normal amounts and even help with maintaining good blood cholesterol levels.

3 | Salt Intake

From one of my previous posts about salt, we know that salt, or sodium is not a bad thing. We need it to survive otherwise our cells would literally shrivel up and die. However, because salt holds water in the cells, it can make the volume in our blood increase, therefore increasing pressure. Maintaining a healthy sodium intake is important. Sodium is not only found in salt, so salt should not be with every meal. Make sure to check your labels.

One of the for sure ways to control your sodium intake is having fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats that are not smoked or processed, and whole grains that are not packaged with seasoning.

4 | Dark Chocolate

One of my favorite treats to have at the end of the day! The flavanols found in dark chocolate have been shown to help cause dilation or widening of the blood vessels. Because of this it helps with blood pressure and the flow of blood from the heart to the brain. Dark chocolate is at least 70% or more cocoa.

5 | Coenzyme 10

Coenzyme 10 is something our liver helps us make and also helps to dilate our blood vessels and increase oxygen to the brain to reduce pressure. 200-300 mg of CoQ10 per day may help to reduce blood pressure. It’s also been helpful for pressure headaches due to sinus pressure, and even helping those with migraines to have less severe symptoms.

6 | Tea Time

Sipping on 1-2 cups of tea a day for a few weeks can help lower blood pressure. Find herbal teas that are caffeine free. For instance, Hibiscus tea is naturally sweet, contains flavonoids that prevent clotting, improves artery function, and stimulates insulin production in the body.

7 | Laughing

Laughing causes the inner lining of your blood vessels to expand to increase blood flow. Ever broke a sweat when you laughed really hard? It’s most likely do to this. But because of this expansion and increase of blood flow it can help reduce blood pressure.

8 | Leafy Greens

There isn’t much that leafy greens don’t help with. Specifically for High Blood Pressure leafy greens are low calorie, high fiber, and high in minerals like potassium, folate, and magnesium which helps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Potassium does the opposite of sodium, however, only a small amount is needed in the body so unless for some reason you are prescribed to take a higher amount by a doctor, you can get plenty from eating your greens and of course, bananas.

9 | Alcohol

Alcohol is something that all around isn’t good for your health in high doses. It’s calorie dense without any nutrients which leads to weight gain, and with what your body has to do to detox from alcohol consumption can raise your blood pressure. Avoid alcohol, or at the least, when drinking alcohol limit to just one drink and have a glass of water after.

10 | Beans

Beans are rich in potassium (opposite of sodium), magnesium, and fiber. You can add them to soups, salads, chili, pastas, or as a side dish. If you buy them in the can, look for “no salt” or “no added salt” varieties. And since I live here in Texas, I’d skip cooking the beans with bacon which is high sodium, high fat, and usually highly processed.

Bottom Line

Watch what you eat and drink, get plenty of exercise and remember to laugh! I think I should start ending all my posts with this. What do you think?

Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol

One of the main concerns that I’ve heard from people is their need to lower their cholesterol or wanting to make sure to keep their cholesterol levels in the healthy range. What are some easy things to substitute or change in your diet to help? Let’s first talk a little about what cholesterol does and then we can better understand how to take care of our levels of cholesterol.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a class of lipids, or fats, that is made by the body for different purposes. For instance, cholesterol can be incorporated as part of the structure of cell membranes, used to make bile for digestion, made into vitamin D, and used to make sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. However, cholesterol can be deposited in the artery walls which leads to plaque build up and heart disease. How does it find itself there?

As you may know, water and oil don’t mix. For the fat to be transported during digestion it has to go through water based liquids, like blood. Those fats are combined with special proteins so that it can transport through the body. Lipoproteins are what those clusters are called and these include HDL and LDL. Cholesterol is a part of the cluster.

The difference in the HDL (high-density) lipoproteins and the LDL (low density) lipoproteins are the amount of fat (or cholesterol) they are transporting. The more cholesterol the less dense the lipoprotein will be. The more protein the more dense it will be. So the High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is the healthier one. The Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is the “lousy” one since it mainly consists of fat. This type is the cholesterol that can be deposited in the artery walls which then can lead to heart disease.

So how can we raise our healthy HDL and lower our lousy LDL?

Lowering LDL Cholesterol Levels

Lower The Amount of Fat in Your Diet

To lower the bad cholesterol means lowering the amount of fats in your diet. The total intake of fats should not be more than 20% of your total calorie intake. For a 2,000 calorie diet that would be 400 calories, which would be a total or 44 grams of fat. That is on the HIGH end.

Healthy Fats

When you are watching your fat intake, make sure the fats you are digesting are unsaturated fats and that less than 1/2 of your fat intake (10% total calorie intake, or 20 grams) is from saturated sources. The best way to tell the difference without a label, is that unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature (olive oil, avocados, most nuts, seeds, fish) and saturated fats are solid at room temperature (butter, animal fats). Avoid trans fats at all cost.

Increase Fiber, Fruits, & Vegetables

Fiber in the foods you eat has been proven to help decrease bad cholesterol. Eating more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, etc. will help.

Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to 5-9 servings a day, more being from vegetable sources. Fruits and vegetables (not canned) are our source of antioxidants which helps prevent heart disease and strengthens the body’s defense against cell damage. These antioxidants can neutralize free radicals which contribute to the build up of plaque in the arteries.

Lose Excess Weight

Just as much as a small increase of damaging factors can contribute to higher cholesterol levels, small decreases can have a good effect as well. Just a 5-10 pound decrease in weight is enough to start seeing a decrease in LDL cholesterol in most people.

Bottom Line

Lower the amount of fat in your diet and try to fill your day with low-fat whole foods rich in antioxidants and fiber. If overweight, loosing just 5 pounds can be enough to see a decrease.

Need help in lowing fat in your diet? Take my Free Nutrition Assessment to get my feedback and start getting your diet back on track!