Avoid the mid-afternoon slump

It’s halfway between lunchtime and teatime and you’re running out of steam. and here are some tips on how to get through the rest of the afternoon.

The workplace seems to lose momentum mid-afternoon. Typing slows to a halt, yawns are stifled, concentration dwindles and peckishness sets in.

What you eat earlier in the day can be key to avoiding the lethargy that is an afternoon in the office, says Sian Porter, a registered dietitian.

“The first thing to do is make sure you have breakfast; a good whole­grain cereal or wholegrain toast. And breakfast is a good time to get in one of your five a day, so have a glass of fruit juice or a handful of dried fruit on your cereal,” she says.

If you need a boost mid-afternoon, fight the urge to fill up on cake. Porter suggests getting an office fruit bowl going so that there is always a healthy snack on hand. “If everyone puts R10 in a kitty, you can set up a sort of fruit club to make sure there is a variety of fresh fruit in the workplace each week.”

According to nutritionist Heather Caswell there is nothing wrong with having a coffee or tea to perk you up: “Caffeine, found in drinks such as tea, coffee, energy drinks and also, to a smaller extent, in chocolate, is a stimulant, and may, therefore, help you to stay alert and help concentration during the day.”

But consuming too much caffeine will affect your sleep, so Porter suggests alternate drinks. Instead of your normal tea or coffee make every other drink a glass of water. “Staying hydrated will help your concentration,” she says.

A well-balanced lunch will also help to keep your energy levels up until home time. Get some protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables in there, but keep high-fat foods to a minimum.

“Not only are high-fat foods bad for you, they can also give you indigestion, especially if you are sat slumped at a desk after eating,” Porter says.

If you must indulge in the canteen’s chips try to make it a once-a-week treat rather than a daily occurrence.

Get away from your desk at lunchtime where possible, if only to stretch your legs. “Use lunchtime as a time to refresh yourself as well as a time to eat. Be physically active, even if you just take a walk around the block,” adds Porter.

And if that mid-afternoon slump still hits, be strong. Avoid typical snack foods like chocolate and sweets, which are full of the sugar you may be craving. While they may give you a short-term energy boost they will often leave you feeling hungry soon after eating them.

“Opt instead for fresh fruit, a handful of unsalted nuts, vegetable sticks, rice cakes with hummus, or a handful of plain popcorn, choosing one option mid-morning and one mid-­afternoon,” Caswell suggests.

If you are peckish, snack away and don’t feel guilty. “Don’t wait until you are desperate, that’s when you will find yourself rushing off to the vending machine for chocolate,” Porter says. “Keep some healthy snacks on hand, such as dried fruit or a handful of nuts – not too many, as they are high in calories.

“If you snack sensibly it can be a good way to keep your energy levels steady throughout the day.”

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