7 Steps to Prevent the Afternoon CrashIt happens to the best of us—that 3 pm crash that feels like you are dragging death from the ankles. Not the best way to pick up the kids from school, or show up at that end-of-day meeting. What you really want is a nap and, in this sleep-starved time, that’s what you should have. But, is that realistic? You know what you should do is take a brisk walk in the crisp air (ya, I’m laughing too) and a few quiet moments to yourself, but what you will do is grab one more cup of that crutch that we love so much.

Nope, once you hit the wall, there is no way around it, if only you could find a way to prevent it.

It’s actually not that hard, but it does take awareness earlier than you would think.

Step 1: Have a high-protein/high-fibre breakfast to prevent the am blood sugar spike which will only lead to a crash. High carbohydrate breakfasts can set you up for a fall later. Adrenaline may get you through the morn but it will poop out on you too…eventually.

Step 2: Manage/measure caffeine intake in the a.m. (no more than two cups). If you can switch to tea or lightly brewed green tea, you can sip, sip, sip your way through the day. The bigger smash of caffeine from a cup of coffee will only let you down at the wrong time.

Step 3: Have complex carbohydrates at lunch (brown rice, whole wheat). They are slow burning fuels that help you make serotonin which will keep you feeling relaxed and happy throughout the day. White carbs burn like a flare and we have all watched those peter out; it’s depressing. A high-fat meal will make you sluggish while your body focuses on digesting rather than writing, communicating, thinking, driving, convincing and whatever other adverb you are expected to perform.

Step 4: Include lean protein and high-nutrient vegetables (spinach, red peppers, cabbage, and romaine lettuce). These foods will burn slowly and brightly and help you keep your stress in check.

Step 5: Take a B complex vitamin at lunch time. (It’s my secret weapon.) B vitamins are required to unlock the fuel in carbohydrates and they give you a little lift in energy just when you need it. It is easy to remember to take when they are right there in your desk drawer. A big glass of water will also make sure that this isn’t dehydration dragging you down.

Step 6: Sip on green tea throughout the aft. Lightly brewed green tea has slightly less caffeine that other sources and you will be getting more water per sip. If you use loose-leaf tea, you can rebrew it to get less and less caffeine by the end of day so you can get to sleep at night. (Because, really, getting enough sleep is the key to sustained energy all day.)

Step 7: Have a handful of nuts and fruit around 3 p.m.; think of it as your own private rocket fuel. That donut you are eyeing will only let you down and or make you plump, it is contributing absolutely nothing. On the other hand, the good fats in nuts are fuelling your brain and the fruit provides a refreshing burst of antioxidants and phytochemicals that only want to serve you. If you want to add a square of dark chocolate and a moment of silence to recharge, that’s bankable bonus points for you.

Theresa Albert is the respected author of two books: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck, and host of the Food Canada Show, Just One Bite. Find out more about Theresa at www.myfriendinfood.com.