The Best Work Lunch to Beat the 3pm Slump
If you find yourself crashing at work around 3 p.m., struggling not to fall asleep at your desk and using coffee just to stay awake for meetings, you're just like me. And the rest of the world. When we reach for chocolate or caffeine or any other crutch to stay focused and alert in the mid-afternoon, it has little to do with basic brainpower or engagement at work and everything to do with what we had to eat for lunch.
There's a reason that siesta time is after lunch. When you eat too many carbs or a lunch heavy in meat and dairy you feel sleepy as your body struggles to metabolize the meal. Instead of a burger and fries, or a carb-laden sandwich, have a fiber-filled bowl of salad, complete with protein-rich lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, avocado, and broccoli. My go-to for this: Sweetgreen.
Ever since working on The Beet—starting last spring—and going fully plant-based, I switched my lunch habit, which before going plant-based had included fries, chips, bread, and other simple carbs, to eating a salad from the upscale salad chain Sweetgreen most days. Now I find I've had both a mental and physical benefit to changing up lunch to a high-fiber, protein-filled, healthy plant-based salad every day. I can focus.
This means that I have a much more productive afternoon, get my work done quicker, and leave the office knowing I got through most of my to-do list, without feeling down about myself for a lack of productivity from 1 to 6 or 7 p.m. (depending on the day and the deadline).
I also have more energy after work, can sometimes get to the pool for a swim or the gym for a quick spin class before dinner, and I feel lighter, leaner and less bloated—plus I've lost weight—all because of changing up my lunch. Skipping lunch is never the answer for me since I become a calorie-seeking machine by 4 p.m. when that happens. Much better is eating a filling and healthy salad, spending the 12 or 13 dollars for the meal, and not reaching for junk in the hours before dinner.
Visit one of Sweetgreen's 77 locations—they started in Georgetown in 2007 by graduates from the B school there, and now are in most major cities across the U.S. We also happen to love the fact that they give five months of parental leave, so you can rest assured they're a company with a conscience.
The salad bar near you may be the next best thing but here is why I love Sweetgreen: You can mix your greens like kale, spinach and baby arugula, then add a warm grain like brown rice or quinoa—one of our top sources of plant-based protein—which adds enough filling volume to not make you feel hungry shortly after eating it, and then top it off with sunflower seeds—another nutrient-dense food.
Try this new way to jumpstart your energy and your workday: Eat a nutrient-dense salad every day for a week and see if your work habits and your energy changes for the better. If so, keep it up and of course we want you to share your salad choices with The Beet on IG or in the comments here. If not, then tweak the contents of your salad, cut out simple carbs and try to come up with a lunch that is healthy and satisfying—like lentil soup, hummus or avocado toast. The plant-based recipes here at The Beet give you options if you want to make it from home and bring it. But as long as we work within a block and a half of a Sweetgreen, we're good.