Foods That Push You Past the Post-Lunch Slump

Lunch is a welcome respite in the middle of the day, providing a break from work and a chance to sit down and refuel the body until dinnertime. However, feelings of fatigue after eating a “hearty” lunch are not uncommon. In fact, Kelly Cardamone, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, of General Physician, P.C. says it’s natural to get a little tired in the afternoon, often due to choosing carb-heavy or sugary lunches that may make you sleepy.

In adopting healthier options, Kelly recommends specific food combinations at lunch to help satisfy cravings and remain energized throughout the day.

Grain bowls: Complex carbohydrates tend to be high in energizing B vitamins, and whole grains will keep you feeling fuller longer due to their high fiber content. Look for complex, protein-rich grains, such as quinoa, farro, or brown rice. Balance the grain with plenty of vegetables.

Salads with nuts: Salads are a go-to healthy lunch provided they’re not covered with fatty dressings or cheeses. Add chopped nuts to salads for added texture, protein, and nutrition to fill you up and provide energy.

Smoothies: Smoothies aren’t just breakfast fare. They’re delicious and nutritious any time of the day. You can add high-protein items, including plant-based protein powders, or ground chickpeas and kale, to smoothies for an additional energy boost.

Crackers and hummus: Purchase whole-grain crackers or ones made from almond flour for added nutrition, and pair them with a healthy hummus dip. Hummus usually is made with chickpeas, garlic, tahini (ground sesame seed paste), and olive oil. It provides healthy protein and fat sources to keep you satiated.

Overnight oats: Create a lunchtime or snack parfait using an overnight oats recipe. Overnight oats are made by mixing old fashioned oats, milk (dairy or nut milk), yogurt, and other add-ins, and letting the ingredients sit and thicken for at least five hours, or even overnight. Change the flavor profile by experimenting with nuts (or nut butters), fruits, and spices. This nutrient-dense meal will provide plenty of energy without bogging you down. See a recipe for overnight oats on page 41.

When dining out for lunch, fill up on vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, such as a quality white fish like wild cod. Starchy, cheesy, and fast foods can contribute to fatigue that compromises afternoon productivity. Other ways to avoid the mid-day slump include getting adequate sleep and reducing stress in your life. However, Kelly recommends talking to your doctor if you find that daily fatigue consistently impacts your ability to concentrate, function, or remain productive.

Kelly Cardamone, MS, RD, CDE, CDN She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist, Integrative & Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner, and Certified Health & Wellness Coach practicing at General Physician, P.C. To make an appointment with Kelly, call 716-631-8400. Learn more at