Don’t mistake that afternoon funk for fatigue. In many cases it turns out to be a life-sucking carb coma a couple of hours after lunch. An article I read about insomnia suggested a high carbohydrate snack two hours before bed to induce drowsiness. I started thinking about lunches that most people consume: Sandwiches, pasta salads, French fries, potato chips, baked potatoes, wraps, burritos, pizza, etc. Almost all lunch fare is high in carbohydrates, which means that a couple of hours later you’re gonna crash. I thought perhaps some rearrangement might help.
Go for proteins and veggies early in the day. Heavy duty proteins crank up your metabolism and energize your body for hours as they’re digested and released into your system, so consume them early in the day for sustained energy and alertness.
Be adventurous and discard meal segregation. I have never been one to relegate foods to certain times of day, so you can find me eating leftover stir-fry for breakfast and Cheerios for dinner just about any time. If you expand your breakfast menu to encompass all foods, you’ll have a lot more variety in your morning meals, but several traditional breakfast foods more than fill the protein bill: omelets, cheese, sausage, yogurt (plain with fresh or juice-packed canned fruit stirred in, add cinnamon for heart healthiness), cottage cheese with some fruit, (try a little unsweetened apple butter!). Peach halves stuffed with cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon is a favorite of mine. Smoothies with plain yogurt and fresh fruit (and a little peanut butter if you’re a fanatic like me) are great for on-the-go.
Eat when your body signals that it’s truly hungry. Don’t get hungry until late morning? Then go for a late breakfast or early lunch. More a lunch than dinner person? Make lunch your main, high-protein, high vegetable, low carb meal of the day and go lighter for dinner.
Evening is the time to start winding down. You’ve given your body the energy-stoking proteins it needs to stay charged and alert all afternoon, and completed all the activities you’ve planned for the day without nodding off even once.
Go for carbohydrates for dinner and evening snacks, particularly if you suffer from insomnia. Dinnertime is when to go for that nice pasta salad, baked potato, or spaghetti with marinara sauce.
Low-fat carbohydrates are ideal for snacks about two hours before bed. That’s when you want to set yourself up to crash. I crunch away on dry cereals mixed up and sprinkled with cinnamon (very heart healthy). Popcorn, toast and some herbal tea like chamomile, baked chips or rice cakes. All good.
With your carbohydrate calories reserved for the end of the day, you can relax and count on nodding off for a great night’s sleep, and in turn waking up refreshed and ready to stoke up with protein to start your activity cycle all over again.