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The mid-afternoon slump: Ditch the sweet foods, try these instead

Margaret Bell, Transformational Health Coach, talks us through some better foods for the mid-afternoon work slump. Reaching for sweet pick-me-ups has probably increased for most of us in the past year due to the stress of the pandemic and the ease of getting snacks from the next room! Here Margaret suggests some healthier alternatives to keep you feeling energised and productive. 

The working week has drastically changed for many of us, what used to be mostly office based has now graduated to us working from home. And with the fridge being only a few feet away, the temptation is real!

I am a trained transformational health coach and I work with women who have issues with emotional eating and body image, so I understand the difficulty of COVID keeping us indoors and the growing temptation of food when working from home.

The main reasons why we are finding it difficult to keep that fridge closed is that we are either stressed, bored or seeking comfort, as we haven’t seen family or loved ones for quite some time. Eating comfort foods brings our stress levels down temporarily, giving us the feeling of being comforted. Boredom is lessened, but only for a short period of time.

My guess is that you are often reaching for food that is high in sugar or refined carbs. Which, if you didn’t know, will increase your cortisol and blood sugar levels to such a point where insulin is released but comes crashing back down, so the cycle continues all through the day like a roller coaster.

To overcome this, focus on foods that can really help lower and most importantly stabilise your blood sugar. Not only will you feel more relaxed and in control, you will be less likely to reach for the high sugar treats in between meals and you’ll feel much calmer and relaxed, which is what we all
want in these strange times.

Some of my suggestions may surprise you, but stick with me as introducing these foods into your everyday diet will make a difference.

1. Avocado – don’t fear this fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) Many people are put off as they think avocado is a fatty food and should be avoided. On the contrary, avocado is full of monounsaturated fats which actively slow the release of sugars and keep you fuller for longer. 1/4 of an avocado is enough for a meal or try avocado oil on salads.

2. Chia seeds – for such a small seed it packs a big punch. Two teaspoons a day will make a difference. Chia seeds are naturally gluten free and full of magnesium. Did you know that low magnesium can lead to the development of diabetes? So, eating foods rich in magnesium is a sure-fire way to keep your blood sugar level stable.

3. Cinnamon – this spice can act like insulin and actively absorb blood sugar, therefore resulting in an overall lower blood sugar level. Try having up to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day over porridge or in a smoothie.

4. Olive oil – another great source of monounsaturated fats. Olive oil also aids leptin release into the body, the hormone which controls appetite and regulates food intake.

5. Kale – high in magnesium. It has been proven that if your magnesium levels are good, you are less at risk of developing diabetes.

6. Porridge oats – one of my favourite foods ever. Oats have a naturally low glycaemic index so they’ll keep your blood sugars on a more even level, they also reduce glucose and insulin responses after meals.

7. Nuts – last but by no means least. Natural whole nuts such as walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts are high in magnesium and unsaturated fatty acids. Eat a handful of unprocessed nuts to keep you going between meals without the sudden sugar spike and crash.

So, there you have it, seven foods that you can introduce in your diet that will not only keep your sugar levels in sync, but will have the added benefit of keeping you fuller longer, more relaxed, less stressed and more focused – so that sweet stuff can be left for another day.

Margaret Bell, Transformational Health Coach & Nutritionist

Margaret Bell

Margaret Bell is a Transformational Health Coach who specialises in emotional eating disorders. She runs her own coaching practice, Naturally Empowered Health, is the author of True Taste and the host of a free Facebook Group: Emotional Eating Support UK.

Related reading: Five micro-changes that will transform your health even during lockdown

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