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Hands up if this sounds familiar. 4pm ticks by and the sum total of the last hours achievements consisted of re-writing your to-do list in a different coloured pen and reading an entire feature about a chubby armadillo called Gretel who had to be put on a strict diet after eating too much at Christmas (yes an actual article on MailOnline). In a bid to drag yourself out of this funk you nip out to get a coffee and a cheeky pick-me-up cake to see you through until 6.
Appalled at ourselves, we’ve decided to take inspiration from dear old Gretel, and called on Nutritional Therapist Libby Limon (if you haven’t checked out her instagram yet do – it has brilliant quick and easy recipes) to get to the bottom of the slump. ‘So many people have it these days think it is normal to feel this way. In actual fact it is sign of sub-clinical blood sugar imbalance, which means rather keeping your blood sugar levels within an optimum range, the body experiencing huge peaks and troughs. The afternoon slump is the usually the most pronounced blood sugar low leading to an energy dip and craving for refined carbs, sugary treats and/or caffeinated beverages.’ Sound familiar?
But it’s not just a case of cutting snacks. ‘Actually where people go wrong usually starts way back at breakfast with a carbohydrate heavy meal e.g. toast, cereal even ‘healthy ones' including porridge, this starts the blood sugar rollercoaster, often leading to mid morning caffeine, then more carbs at lunch, then the mid afternoon crash comes.’ This is a complete diet overhaul ladies. Are you ready? Here is the action plan…
- If you are prone to these blood sugar imbalances (not everyone is) try to eat breakfast within 2 hours of waking as blood sugar is at it’s lowest in the morning. If you are not a breakfast person, try to have a small snack and then a more breakfast type meal mid morning. You can eat lunch whenever, but even with a balanced macro meal, there is only a window of 4-5 hours of energy from one meal. If the gap is longer – consider a balanced snack like whole fruit with nuts.
- Include adequate protein and healthy fats (avacado, oily fish) along with complex carbs at breakfast and lunch for an even release of food. Not only energy levels are regulated, but you’ll notice stress levels are too.
- If you still have a craving mid afternoon, got for a protein snack pot (Pret do a great spinach and egg one) or edamame – not sugar or carbs. If you prefer sweet options try greek yoghurt with fresh fruit or cocnut yoghurt.
- Swap coffee for chamomile. Fruit teas won’t cause such a spike and then inevitable dip. If you can’t quite wean yourself off caffeine try green tea, which has a little and is releaser slower.
- Try adding the supplement Chromium (otherwise know as glucose tolerance factor). It balances out blood sugar. Magnesium and B Vitamin supplements are also good for balancing energy and hormone levels.
For more healthy tips and a tonne of delicious recipes visit Libby's blog.