Every nutritionist will tell you that eating lunch is important. Breakfast may be considered the most important meal of the day, but lunch is a close second, as you still have at least 6 more hours of work to go and your mind and body need the energy that lunch provides.
What you may not know, however, is that not all lunches are created equal. In fact, some of the healthiest foods are still not ideal for a lunch break, because they can affect your energy levels, focus, and more. If you have found yourself feeling tired, sluggish, and unfocused in the last half of your workday, your lunch may be to blame.
Foods That Affect Your Focus and Energy
Most so called “unhealthy foods,” like fast food burgers or fried chicken, can cause sluggishness by filling your body with fats, chemicals, and carbs in a way that can affect your energy levels. But what about healthy foods?
The greatest culprit are foods that are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is a known relaxant. It is critical for your health, and most people already do not get enough magnesium in their diets. You should try to integrate magnesium into your diet. But your lunch may not be the right time for high doses of magnesium, because the mineral is known to relax the body. Examples of healthy foods high in magnesium include:
- Dark Chocolate
- Dried Fruit
Now, it should be noted that these foods are still very healthy, and you are much better off eating these foods over heavier foods like pasta, pizza, and burgers. But if you already eat very healthy and still find you’re often tired after lunch, the above foods may be to blame.
In addition to high magnesium foods, you may also want to consider avoiding the following at your lunch break:
- Cherries – Cherries are high in melatonin, a hormone that your body uses to sleep. Some studies have shown that those eating cherries tend to be more tired than those that do not. Other foods high in melatonin include orange bell peppers and tomatoes.
- White Rice – White rice is not necessarily that healthy, but it’s not unhealthy, and it’s regularly integrated into healthy foods. That said, it is also a food considered to be high glycemic index, which means your body breaks it down so quickly that it stops giving you energy only a short time after eating it. White bread causes similar issues.
- Red Meat – You already should avoid some forms of red meat, which are often found in unhealthy dishes. But red meat in general can also cause issues, because they require a lot of energy from your body to break down the complex fats, which in turn takes energy away from your brain.
- Walnuts – Walnuts have are high in tryptophan, a chemical that reduces stress, and magnesium. They also have melatonin. Since all three are related to feeling drowsy and tired, it may be best to be careful about eating them on your lunch break.
- Coffee – Coffee, with no sugar or cream and in small doses, may actually be a healthy drink. Studies have shown it improves long term memory, may help fight some cancers, and more. It also has caffeine, which is believed to keep you awake. But unfortunately, for those trying to stay awake, it tends to only work temporarily. Once the caffeine wears off, the crash can be worse than before.
The foods listed above are found in many healthy foods, and many have great nutritional value. Some people find that the nutrition from these foods can boost their energy levels, as it gives them some much needed nutrients.
However, if you find that you are often low energy after your lunch break, even though you eat healthy, see how much of these foods are in your diet. It’s possible that they may be the cause. If you have questions or concerns about your diet, contact Integrative Wellness Atlanta today.