During the holidays it's easy to overindulge in sugary treats. You'll often notice at around 3pm you experience a slump in energy. This is usually a sign that you're blood sugars have spiked and you're now experiencing the post-sugar energy drop. Your head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton wool and you can’t think straight. You may find it hard to focus and all you’d really like to do is crawl into bed and take a nap.
Sound familiar? At one time or another, most of us have experienced what it’s like to hit the 3pm wall. Whether it’s in a corporate setting or during daily life, this mid-afternoon energy dip is all too common.
While our circadian rhythm has a part to play - hence the reason why the siesta is such a popular phenomenon across the world - there’s another factor that can affect our afternoon energy…
Food! There Are 3 Main Nutritional Factors Which Determine Whether You’re Soaring Or Snoring Come 3:00 p.m.
1. Sugar. A big hit of the sweet stuff creates a temporary boost in our energy and mood. Yet this feeling is short-lived as skyrocketing blood sugar levels cue the pancreas to release insulin into the bloodstream. The resulting insulin dump is responsible for the energy slump and grogginess we feel after eating a sugary indulgence.
2. Fiber. Dietary fiber provides the roughage we need to keep our digestive tract in tip-top condition. It also adds bulk to meals and signals our stomach that we’re full. This helps to level out our blood sugar between meals and avoid any major energy dips.
3. Protein. Like fiber, protein has a very high satiety factor, meaning that it helps to keep you fuller, for longer! Coupled with a moderate dose of healthy fats, protein is broken down and digested more slowly than fast-burning carbohydrates (such as sugar). This goes a long way towards helping you feel energized and vitalized between lunch and dinner.
So as you can see, a nourishing, satisfying snack should contain this triple threat of low sugar, with high fiber, a little protein, and ideally, a little bit of healthy fat thrown in for good measure. Here are some of my favorite go-to snacks to avoid the mid-meal slump:
1. Creamy Cauliflower Dip (With Veggie Sticks)
This is sooooo easy to whip together and will keep any hunger pangs at bay. Simply steam a head of cauliflower and blend it together with your desired amount of yogurt (either organic dairy or coconut), garlic, lemon juice, cold-pressed olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper until thick and creamy. Serve with crunchy veggie sticks.
2. Miso Soup With Wakame Flakes
A perfect, nourishing snack as we head into the cooler months! Plus, this light snack has a good dose of iodine to support thyroid function.
To make, simply:
- Bring a jug of filtered water to a boil.
- Use kitchen scissors to roughly cut some dried wakame into a mug. Pour over boiling water and allow the wakame to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened.
- Discard first batch of steeping water, using a fork or sieve to retain the soaked wakame.
- Add 1 spoon (or more if you desire) of organic miso paste to the mug containing wakame and fill with fresh, warm water.
- Stir to dissolve the miso paste, then enjoy!
3. Avocado & Sauerkraut
It’s virtually impossible to not feel sustained and recharged with this gut-healthy snack! Simply halve an avocado and spoon sauerkraut into the hole where the seed was formed. Grab a fork and start tucking into the goodness.
4. Yogurt & Berries
Plain, unsweetened cultured yogurts offer a good source of protein and are highly satiating. Look for a brand that does not contain added sugar and aim for organic, especially if you are choosing a dairy variety.
Of all options in the fruit kingdom, berries are lower in natural sugars and won’t impact your blood sugar levels drastically. For example, a whole punnet of berries contains less carbohydrate than an average apple! This high-antioxidant addition to your yogurt will also add filling fiber and extra flavor.
5. Nut Butter On Celery
Remember ants on a log? This snack is not just for kids! However, I would recommend using other nut butters in addition to peanut butter.
At home, we make a variety of nut butters using our juicer. It’s less expensive than store-bought and better for you, as the fats are released and eaten fresh before they fully oxidize.
However, if you don’t have the time or inclination to make nut butter at home, aim to buy an organic brand without added oils or excess salt.
Simply smear over celery sticks to enjoy a healthy snack!
6. Raw Or Steamed Broccoli, Dipped In Olive Oil & Dukkah
Many cultures have eaten bread and dukkah in combination for centuries. So why not skip the heavy carbs but still enjoy the same sensational flavors?
Simply cut broccoli into small florets (either raw or steamed) with two dipping plates filled with olive oil or dukkah. Dunk the broccoli into olive oil first then coat with dukkah. Divine!
7. Paprika Eggs
A hard boiled egg makes a convenient, transportable snack. Filled with quality protein, iron and B vitamins, it’s also highly nutritious - if not a little bland.
Jazz up the flavor with just a pinch of paprika and sea salt. It’s all you need to keep your tastebuds happy while you nourish your body!
Here are a few more of my favorite snacks from the Food Matters recipe archive:
Chia seeds absolutely nail the nutritional ‘triple threat’ we’re searching for; containing zero sugar, yet pumped with healthy fats and filling fiber. They’re not called a Superfood for no reason!
This pudding takes no time to make and can be prepared in advance for extra convenience. Reduce or omit the natural sweetener for even more blood-stabilizing benefits!
Next time you’re craving some deep-fried comfort food, give this recipe a go! You would never know you’re eating cauliflower, yet your body still gets the benefits from eating this nutritious vegetable. These nuggets are best eaten fresh but are still totally moreish the day after.
10) Nut Cake
Don’t be fooled by ‘cake’ in the title - this recipe actually requires zero baking.
All you need is a food processor and a few pantry staples. Absolutely ideal for those days when you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to suffer from the sugar blues afterwards.
11) Green Juice
While a green juice may not contain protein or fat and admittedly can be quite low in fiber, it is still a wonderfully fortifying elixir for those days when you need an energy boost. It’s a simple, convenient option to flood your cells with Mother Nature’s vitamins and minerals. Try it for yourself!
This delicious dish ticks every box; the quinoa delivers a good hit of fiber, the eggs supply protein and the vegetables offer up vitamins to keep your body working at peak performance.
These frittatas can be easily prepared and frozen in advance, so you can grab a satisfying snack on the run.