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Tips on Avoiding the Post-Lunch Slump

By: Karen McPartland, RD
Senior Dietitian

Do you feel drowsy, irritable or foggy in the late afternoon?  Take a look around your office and you’ll notice that you probably aren’t the only one feeling this way!  Before you reach for a cup of coffee to get you through, think about why you feel this way and consider these tips to help stop the post-lunch slump!    

  • Don’t rely on caffeine to get you through the morning (or the afternoon!)
    1. If you rely on caffeine for energy boosts, your body is being fueled on “fake” energy and, eventually, your energy level crashes and you find yourself looking for more “fake” energy to pick you up.  It’s a vicious cycle, so don’t let coffee be your main fuel source throughout the day.  Fuel your body with food instead!  Start your day with a nutrient-rich breakfast and then have a small snack (a piece of fruit, a container of yogurt, a handful of nuts, etc.) every few hours to keep your engine revved all day long.


  • Examine your lunch choices
    1. What you eat for lunch can play a significant role in how you feel afterward.  A meal filled with refined carbohydrate, not enough protein or too many calories can leave your body feeling sluggish.  Your goal at lunch should be to eat a mixture of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats to help energize you through the afternoon.  Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates can help to prevent energy slumps because they take longer to digest, stabilizing blood sugar levels and keeping you satisfied longer after your meal.  Protein-rich foods support the production of brain chemicals that increase alertness and the ability to concentrate.  Always have at least one cup of vegetables at lunch too!Check out our recipe this month for an energizing lunch recipe!  In addition, here is a quick reference to guide your lunch choices (adjust portions to fit your personal calorie needs): 

Choose a combination of the following:









Some Complex Carbohydrates

Fresh fruit

1%, skim or soy milk

Whole grain bread

Brown or Wild rice

Whole wheat pasta

Sweet potato

Beans like kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, etc. These count as lean protein too!

Nuts.  These count as protein too!

Some Lean Protein

Turkey breast or grilled chicken


Low-fat cheese or cottage cheese






A cup of vegetables

Vegetables that you can add to sandwiches like tomatoes, dark green lettuce/spinach, pepper slices, cucumbers, etc.

Raw vegetables like leafy greens, carrots, celery, broccoli florets, etc.

Any type of cooked vegetable






A small amount of Healthy Fat

Olive oil








  • Avoid dehydration
    1. Water makes up a big part of our body and if we are not getting enough fluid, we might feel quite tired!  Try to drink at least 16 ounces of water with each meal and each snack to increase hydration and help with hunger control.


  • Get moving
    1. Avoid sitting at your desk all day!  Get moving!  If a power-walk break is unrealistic, move around the office.  For example, instead of e-mailing someone in your office, walk over to their desk or just get up and do some stretching in front of your computer every hour or so.  


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