You know the feeling- your eyes are just about to close, you have to fight to keep them open let alone concentrate on what you are supposed to be doing, and you’re looking for the closest, easiest, and sweetest food or drink you can get your hands on to just get you through those few hours you have left.
If you want to avoid not only the cravings for a sugar hit in the afternoon, as well as avoid that afternoon fatigue, the key could be looking back a couple of hours, to what you had for lunch.
Why do we get cravings?
Many of us skip lunch, or quickly grab whatever is quickest (not always the healthiest), or simply don’t eat enough from lack of time or other barriers. The problem with this is that the middle of the day is when you use up the most energy- you are either more physically active or psychologically active, and so your intake at lunch should be one of the larger meals you have in a day.
If you don’t adequately refuel during the day, your energy levels will drop, peaking at the 3:30pm time period, and then driven by not only physical cravings from low blood sugar levels, but also fatigue, and you are more likely to reach for the sweet stuff to give you a temporary and quick energy boost.
Not the healthiest snack when you are trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and manage your weight.
Does one sweet food or drink a day really matter?
In a small portion, having a little bit of chocolate, a couple of biscuits, or a small flavoured latte isn’t the make or break, you can include these types of food in moderation as part of a healthy meal plan. If your portions are larger than ideal because you are acting out of hunger, stress, fatigue, or even just distraction or habit, this is where you can easily consume more than ideal.
The other issue is that often not eating enough at lunch and then having a sweet treat which will often be high GI can cause a sugar crash afterwards. This can make you more likely to reach for high sugar foods/drinks again, to overeat at dinner time, or binge on junk food at night time.
Overeating at night time can be a problem as this is usually the time you are least active, either watching TV, or going to bed, which doesn’t give your body the chance to burn off that extra energy. All this adds up to the perfect recipe for weight gain.
First ask yourself- do you eat breakfast? How many days do you eat breakfast? On the days that you skip it, what are your reasons- are you too busy to go out and get something to eat? Are you too tired to be bothered? Do you forget to bring lunch, or are there no healthy takeaway places nearby?
Once you have figured out the reasons you are skipping lunch, try and come up with some ways to counteract this- could you keep some tinned fish and wholegrain crackers, and trail mix at work in case you forget lunch? Could you set an alarm to remind you to eat? Could you get a healthy lunch delivered to you?
Next, come up with some healthy lunch ideas. You lunch should contain healthy low GI carbohydrates like wholegrain bread, brown or basmati rice, pasta, wholegrain crackers, couscous, or lentils. Add in a small serve of lean protein such as meat, poultry, fish including tinned fish, cheese, nuts, or eggs. Then bulk it all up with fresh or frozen non-starchy vegetables like mushrooms, carrot, salad greens, onion, courgette, cucumber, bell peppers, celery, eggplant, and shallots to name a few.
What delicious meal ideas appeal to you for lunch?
I eat healthy meals but I’m still not losing weight…
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