We’ve all been there. That familiar mid-afternoon brain fog that has you snoozing in front of your screen and reaching for a latte/ chocolate bar/ family packet of sweets for a lift. Sometimes, on bad days, it’s all of the above. Anyone who’s ever experienced a sugar or caffeine high and resultant crash , however, will be well aware that a custard cream and coffee combo is rarely a reliably reviving solution for lagging energy levels. Combine this with the fact that, according to Public Health England (PHE), adults are eating up to 300 calories in excess of what we should be every day, mainly in the form of sugary snacks and drinks, and we’ve got a recipe for both weariness and weight gain on our hands.
The thing is, feeling fatigued come 3pm is a natural component of our circadian rhythm . Our biological ‘sleep/wake’ cycle oscillates throughout the day, with many people experiencing a dip in energy and blood sugar levels between 1pm-3pm in particular, although this can vary depending on whether you’re a ‘lark’ or an ‘owl’. Add sustained screen time to the mix, a sedentary office culture and a lack of natural light and fresh air, and it’s not surprising that we’re mainlining the vending machine come mid-afternoon.
If you really want something sweet, though, you needn’t sit and twiddle your thumbs waiting for the lull to pass. To keep hunger and energy levels in check, not to mention break the cycle of resorting to empty calories, consider getting creative with your late afternoon snack. A healthier, more balanced option will benefit brain, body and productivity in one fell swoop, plus it will align with PHE’s drive to promote healthier snacking. Add in fruit to sweeten the deal and you’re far more likely to hit your 5-a-day too (currently only 25 per cent of UK adults reach this daily target for fruit and veg). Here are some genius ideas to see off the slump.
1. Do a snack swap
Whether you’re partial to a deep dive of the biscuit tin or grab a muffin from the canteen when hard afternoon times hit, there’s a “sensible” swap that will pay off in terms of more even energy levels and stimulating both your hunger and desire for something satisfyingly sweet and crunchy. If an apple isn’t cutting it, a cake might, but not of that variety. We’re talking a corn or rice cake, but if that sounds bland, you haven’t encountered Kallø belgian dark chocolate thins , £1.49. Made with wholegrain brown rice and topped with Belgian chocolate, each thin is 55 calories. There’s also Kallø milk chocolate thins , £1.49, to consider if your usual go-to is a chocolate digestive.
The Kallø Blueberry and Vanilla Rice and Corn Cakes , £1.50, come in at 36 calories each and hit the spot if you like your snacks fruity and moreish but slightly less sweet (a dollop of cream cheese goes nicely here). PHE estimates that a quarter of adults’ calories come from food eaten outside the home, so if you’re on the run, try Belgian Milk Chocolate Rice Cake Minis , £1.99, (104 calories per portion) or Kallø Caramel Rice Cake Minis , 69p,(93 calories per bag). The above make it easy to stick to PHE’s current recommended ‘100 calorie snack’ limit without sacrificing taste, texture or a craving for something sweet now and again.
2. Tweak your sweet
If you’re feeling more adventurous come afternoon, stop the slump in its tracks even further by adding a bit of protein, healthy fat and/ or fruit by way of a colourful, definitively non-boring rice or corn cake topping. The likes of Greek yogurt and blueberries will provide all three of the above, or try raspberries atop of a chocolate thin for a low calorie sweet snack that feels far more decadent than a bog standard biscuit. Crème fraîche with banana and a sprinkle of nuts and smidge of honey is basically a Banoffee situation, while cranberry sauce and brie ticks the salty, creamy and sweet boxes all at once, and makes you feel as though you’re at some kind of classy dinner party rather than at your desk. For more topping creativity, visit Kallø’s recipe hub - you honestly have never appreciated the cheffy scope of what can be achieved with a simple rice or corn cake until you’ve been here. Also, whipping one up gives you a more sustained break from your screen, which can only be a good thing.
3. Put the kettle on
Clearly afternoon tea wouldn’t be right unless accompanied by actual tea, but seeing as consuming caffeine post-2pm can interrupt sleep later on, consider a brew that combines a gentle energy lift and dose of antioxidants with your vital fluids. Dehydration is one of the most prolific causes of a lack of concentration, tiredness and general lacklustre afternoon feels, so as well as keeping yourself well watered, a cup of green tea with your chocolate thin will hydrate without you having to go totally cold turkey on the caffeine front. That said, if a cup of the regular stuff is non-negotiable, as you were. Some things you can’t mess with.
4. Change the scenery
Even nipping to the kitchen to rustle up an exotic topping for your rice cake counts, but ideally try to take a break in an outside space, preferably surrounded by greenery, for 20 minutes if possible. Natural light will help to trigger your body clock back to ‘wake up’ mode, while an invigorating walk will make you feel refreshed when you do return to your desk. If you really don’t have time, consider a very American “walk and talk” style meeting (apparently de rigueur in Silicon Valley). Nature never intended for us to complete marathon work sessions or sit in front of a monitor for hours on end, so be kind to yourself where you can and prioritise breathers, even if it’s condensed rest (siesta anyone?). You’ll feel far more positive and focused when you do get back to the daily grind.
5. Al-desko energisers
So you’re having one of those days when getting out among the trees remains a distant dream. There are still chill tactics you can employ in your workspace to boost creativity, mood and efficiency. As well as a light and healthy snack that fills a hole (if you needed another incentive for a chocolate thin , dark chocolate contains antioxidant flavonoids that boost blood flow), a bit of on-the-spot aromatherapy or meditation can work wonders for energy levels. We love Année de Mamiel Altitude Oil , £28, and Energy Lift Rollerball by Therapie, £38, for a rapid revival of the senses, while the Headspace app has found fans in everyone from Arianna Huffington to Emma Watson for its personalised, bitesize meditation sessions. Consider asking your boss or HR Manager to sign up for the ‘Meditation for Work’ programme, and perhaps lobby to replace the cookie jar with a lighter snack stash while they’re at it…
This sponsored feature was written in partnership with Kallø
For more #SnackSwap inspiration visit Kallo’s online SnackSwap tool
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