Beat the post-lunch slump with clever eating tricks, and get more out of your work day

It’s very common to suddenly feel drowsy once you’ve eaten lunch. What you put on the plate during your lunch break has an impact on how you’ll function when back at the desk. Here’s the lowdown

fitness Updated: Dec 15, 2017 17:59 IST
Prerna Gauba
Prerna Gauba
Hindustan Times
Lunch,Right diet,High fat meal
Lunch making you sleepy? Just eat right, and come back to the desk feeling more energetic.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

You’re at work and just had your lunch. You should feel all charged up, but as you get back to your desk to get some work done, suddenly your eyes start closing and you feel almost drugged by sleep. What’s happening? Fret not. There’s nothing to worry about; you can avoid this situation, say doctors.

There’s a very strong reason for this post-lunch slump. It’s all because of what you’ve eaten. There are actually two reasons. The first one is that you’ve eaten a heavy meal, high on fat. “The body has to work hard to digest food and the blood flow is directed towards the GI (gastrointestinal) tract; hence you feel sleepy,” says Ritika Samaddar, Delhi-based dietician.

The second is a high-carb meal. “This drowsiness is more evident if the lunch menu is rich in carbohydrates. Food influences the melatonin production in our brain, and carbs are one such food group. Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain, and it helps control your sleeping and waking cycles,” says Dr Manoj Kutteri, wellness specialist.

What to eat

•Have smaller and frequent meals rather than one large portion for lunch.

•Include protein and complex carbs as part of your lunch plate. Take meals that are rich in micronutrients and have adequate fibre content.

•Some physical activity after lunch, such as walking or stretching ensures that muscles are activated. It also helps improve blood flow and naturally increases energy, makes you feel sharper.

•Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

•Improve your breathing habits so that you get sufficient energy.

What to avoid

The ideal lunch plate should be a combination of lean proteins, complex carbs and veggies. “Avoid refined carbs like bread, sugary drinks, refined flour-based products like buns, pasta etc,” suggests Samaddar.

Processed foods and high-carb meals lead to the release of large amounts of insulin, which induces the release of serotonin. This hormone regulates mood and sleep, so an imbalance could affect you.

Some foods with higher levels of the amino acid tryptophan should be avoided at lunch. “A few are turkey, spinach, soy, eggs, cheese, tofu, and fish — they make the body create more serotonin, responsible for that post-meal daze,” adds Dr Kutteri. Among fruits, cherries should be avoided, as they affect melatonin levels.

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 17:59 IST