Have you ever had a case of the "afternoon slump"--that infamous time after lunch where your eyelids start feeling like they weigh about 100 pounds apiece, and it's all you can do to keep from laying your head on your desk and snoozing the rest of the day away?
This sleepy phenomenon is actually quite common, and many times it can come from the type of foods you eat at lunch. If your body doesn't get the fuel it needs at lunchtime, you can find yourself feeling sluggish and foggy-headed, which often sends you looking for some type of quick pick-me-up snack just to make it through the day. More often than not, this snack turns out to be a sugar-laden goodie with little nutritional value.
If you want to avoid having to battle with snack cravings in the afternoon, keep the following power-packed lunches in mind to help you get through the rest of your day with flying colors.
1. Turkey and Provolone Spinach Wrap
Packed with protein and full of flavor, this easy-to-make wrap sandwich is the perfect choice for a quick but hearty lunch. Using a spinach-infused wrap (Mission's Garden Spinach Herb wraps are perfect for this), spread a thin layer of hummus, low-fat mayonnaise, or ranch dressing on the wrap, and then lay down a couple of pieces of sliced smoked turkey. Add a couple of slices of Provolone cheese along with some lettuce and diced or sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle on some sea salt and pepper, and then roll it up into a wrap.
You can substitute feta cheese for the Provolone, and it will be just as flavorful! Bring along a container of blueberries and almonds to round out your lunch with something crunchy and sweet and full of nutrients.
2. Whole Wheat Almond Butter and Banana Sandwich
This sandwich is very simple to make but remarkably nutrient-dense, as it contains generous amounts of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein to fuel your afternoon. Use 100% whole wheat bread, or bread made from sprouted grains (e.g., Ezekiel Bread). Spread almond butter (choose one that's made just from ground almonds with no added sugar) on both slices of bread, and then add banana slices (about a quarter of an inch thick apiece) on each side as well.
This sandwich provides a nice, quick boost of energy, but it will also keep you feeling full, which reduces the chance of having a snack craving later in the day. A side of crisp carrot sticks is the perfect pair for this chewy sandwich.
3. The "Everything Good" Salad
A salad is one of the best vehicles to use to get a ton of power-packed, nourishing foods into your lunch. The "Everything Good" salad features a healthy mix of proteins, carbs, and fats to satisfy your body's short-term and longer-term energy needs, so you won't have to head to the vending machine later on. Simply combine a combination of the following ingredients (or use them all!) into a nice, large salad that you can pack and take with you:
- A mixture of romaine lettuce, spring greens, and spinach leaves
- Two hard-boiled eggs, sliced
- Diced tomatoes
- Slices of organic rainbow carrots
- Pecan halves or pieces (about 1/2 cup)
- Cold shredded chicken breast (about 1/2 cup)
- Dried cranberries or golden raisins (or both!)
- Sliced green salad olives
- Shredded cheddar cheese or feta crumbles
- Avocado slices
- Two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- A teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar
- A few squeezes of lemon juice
- Sea salt and cracked pepper
4. Cottage Cheese and Crackers
If you do need a snack, be prepared with this! Heavy on nutrients that will keep you powering through the afternoon, this pairing can also double as a light lunch on it's own. Try a serving of low-fat cottage cheese topped with slices of celery, cucumber, bell peppers, and grape tomatoes sliced in half. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt and black pepper into the mix, and enjoy with a handful of whole grain crackers.
When the afternoon slump comes calling, you don't have to answer. Use the above lunch ideas to help you stay awake and on track for the rest of your day!