Five Tips to Get Through the Afternoon Slump

Posted On Sep 3, 2013 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD


The clock strikes 3:00 p.m.  Just two hours left to meet a pressing work deadline and deal with an unsatisfied customer. Or maybe you've been running errands all day and forgot to make time for lunch before taking the kids to an appointment.

Perhaps you make a quick run to the coffee shop or walk to the vending machine for that little pick-me-up sugar and caffeine cure.

The afternoon slump can be a challenge, and for many people, it's a frequent cause for an unhealthy eating habit. Even if you eat balanced healthy meals the rest of the day, the mid-afternoon splurge can sabotage goals and you could be creating a vicious cycle. Sure, you get a surge in energy from a soda and candy bar or yummy coffee drink and pastry, but it's short-lived and may leave you feeling even more drained a few hours later.

Here are a few tips on how to make it through the afternoon slump to finish your day strong:

  1. Eat a well-balanced breakfast with fiber and protein - How does eating breakfast affect your energy in the afternoon? Quite a bit, actually. People who eat a solid breakfast have more consistent energy levels throughout the day and are less hungry later on. Oatmeal with nuts and berries, an egg with whole grain toast, or Greek yogurt sprinkled with chopped almonds and fruit are a few breakfast options to keep you going.
  2. Break for lunch - Going long periods of time without eating makes it hard for even the most disciplined eater to make healthy choices. Skipping lunch or going more than six hours without eating leads to a drop in blood sugar and energy, which leaves you craving anything available that has quick energy, usually in the form of refined carbs like candy, sweets, chips and soda.
  3. Plan to have a healthy snack - Just like a balanced breakfast helps keep your energy levels consistent, having a healthy mid-afternoon snack can hold you over until dinner, preventing you from overeating or grabbing a soda and candy bar. Try carrots with string cheese, an apple with peanut butter or hummus with raw veggies.
  4. Take a short break - Even a break as short as five minutes to take a walk, do light stretching, or close your eyes and just breathe helps release relaxing hormones to ease stress and increase energy. Schedule it as an appointment or meeting in your calendar and don't skip it.
  5. Catch six to eight hours of zzzz's - Getting adequate restful sleep helps regulate your appetite and metabolism. Even one night of fewer than six hours of sleep can increase your desire for foods high in fat and sugar and make you feel hungrier than normal. It's your body's way of making up for the lack of energy due to not enough shuteye.