Corporate Wellness

How to Avoid a “Food Coma” After Lunch

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So you’ve had a busy morning and it’s time for lunch. For many people, work lunches involve buying food from the company cafeteria, or heading out to one of the many eateries that cater to the workweek lunch crowd. Taking your full lunch break is a great way to decompress and prepare for the work in the afternoon (see our blog on how to do the business lunch healthfully), but there is one outcome every productive worker wants to avoid: the food coma.

The “Food Coma” which is so ubiquitous it was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online in 2014, is that feeling of sleepiness that overtakes people after a big meal. You may know it by a different name like “the itis,” or “after dinner dip,” but you probably haven’t heard of the technical term: “postprandial somnolence.”  We most commonly think of it happening after big holiday meals (like Thanksgiving) but a food coma after lunch can ruin afternoon productivity. So how can we all prevent the food coma…

Don’t go too big. 

A study in young men tested whether a low or high calorie lunch would have a greater impact on sleepiness during a monotonous drive (don’t worry, the drive was in a simulator). Researchers found that the larger meal caused a much greater lull in attentiveness and trend toward greater sleepiness compared to the smaller meal.

TipPack your lunch the night before, or make sure to exercise your ordering skills at a restaurant to ensure your meal is less calorie dense. Use the Healthy Dining Finder to locate a restaurant with healthy options near you, or check out some of B. Komplete’s healthy ordering tips for business lunches.

Keep those carbohydrates complex. 

One theory for feeling sleepy after meals has to do with the amount and types of carbohydrates we eat. There is evidence that eating easily digestible simple carbohydrates (like white flour and sugary desserts) causes sleepiness by increasing blood sugar and subsequent insulin production. That increase in insulin production happens concurrently with increases in hormones like melatonin which causes sleepiness, and inhibition of orexin neurons which help maintain wakefulness. Multiple studies show greater sleepiness and earlier onset of sleep with meals higher refined and total carbohydrate. 

TipTry to keep your post-meal surge in blood sugar slow and controlled by choosing healthy, complex forms of carbohydrates like whole grains. Also be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables that add healthy fiber and slow the digestion of carbohydrate in the gut.

Avoid high fat meals. 

A study done in over 700 Australian men found that those who ate diets higher in fat reported experiencing greater daytime sleepiness than those with lower fat intake.  

TipKeep your lunch light on the grease! Heavier, fatty foods like pizza and burgers might just exacerbate your post-meal lull. Also consider the type of fat you eat. Typical fast food often contains lots of saturated fat, the fat we typically consider less healthy. Instead, choose foods full of healthy unsaturated fats like guacamole, or a salad with a vinegar and olive oil, nuts and seeds.  

Get a good night’s sleep.

The experience of a “afternoon dip” doesn’t have everything to do with your meal. At least some of this post-lunch sleepiness is due to natural fluctuations of your circadian rhythm which can be exacerbated by the content of your meals. However, another major factor for your desire for an afternoon nap? Sleep debt. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans is sleep-deprived and you’re much less likely to feel energized after lunch if you didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. Poor sleep is also associated with poor food choices, which can exacerbate the food coma, creating a vicious cycle…  

TipSet an alarm not just for the morning, but for bedtime and hold yourself to it! Ensuring you get enough sleep will not only help you stake wakeful throughout the workday, but will also help you make healthy food choices at lunch!

It might feel great to take a nap after a satisfying meal, but this isn’t an option when you’re busy at work. Prioritizing healthy, light lunches and adequate sleep at nighttime can help you maintain your productivity and prevent the dreaded food coma.

However, if you’re like many Americans, you have a hectic work day and prioritizing healthful behaviors can be difficult. Check out B.Komplete’s post on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a busy schedule!

Nutrition and Food

Interview- The Power of Positivity

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The American Cancer Society signifies June 5th as National Cancer Survivors Day.  In honor of the many individuals who have battled cancer, we feel honored to share a special story about a two-time cancer survivor.  This individual has touched the heart of many of us at B.Komplete.  We think that many of you will be able to relate to her story, and to gain inspiration.   

What inspired you to want to make healthy changes in your life?

After three years of various medical issues and limited physical activity, I was ready to start making changes for the better. I was already doing some things like eating healthy and knew I needed to increase my physical activity. I wanted to learn what else I could do to help me become as healthy as possible.

Did you have any goals you wanted to accomplish prior to starting the process of change? If so, could you elaborate on that?

I wanted to become more active. Due to limitations with physical activity, I knew I could walk so that was a focus for me. My goal was to get between 8,000-10,000 steps a day. Some days it’s easier to get my steps in, but I always aim to get somewhere between that number of steps each day.  Also, I wanted to optimize my eating habits by making little changes to help improve what I was already doing to eat healthy.

When you first began this process, what was the first thing you did to change?

After meeting with my B.Komplete Registered Dietitian, we came up with ideas on how I could achieve my goals. I started by keeping track of my steps for each day of the work week. Initially, my goal was 8,000 steps each day and eventually work my way up to 10,000 steps. My B.Komplete Registered Dietitian helped to reassure me that my eating habits were good beforehand and together we came up with ways I can improve in small ways to gain even more health benefit.

How do you manage to stay healthy at work?

At work, I started to stand up more when I need a break. I started “walking deliveries” of things that I needed to give to co-workers and I started taking walks around the office. I try to move as much as possible when I can fit it into my day. Also, I started to do the office yoga that I learned from B.Komplete. Food wise, I bring my meals and snacks. I also keep snacks at my desk.

How do you keep such a positive outlook on change after everything you have been through?

I guess I’m just really lucky. I have a great support system. My close friends and family are always there for me. Besides that, I have always been a positive person. My personal mantra is “don’t give up.” I’ve been through a lot in my life and I feel that what you do with what you are given can make you or break you. With everything I went through, I’ve become a positive, strong person.

Could you share something that helps to keep you positive and focused on changes to better your overall health?

I don’t deprive myself of things. For instance, I know I can cheat a little with what I eat every once and awhile. It helps me to think through what I should and shouldn’t have to eat. Also, I don’t think of my food choices as a “diet.”

How has B.Komplete helped you keep on track to achieve your goals and motivate you?

My B.Komplete Registered Dietitian is supportive, motivating, and gives great advice. She helped me see what I was doing right and helped me to see what I can do to improve my eating and physical activity level. Together, we came up with a plan that helped me make the changes to live a healthier life. The plan has been working for me thus far, and each time we meet, she helps me make like tweaks to keep improving. It’s obvious she practices what she preaches and I like that about B.Komplete. You know you are getting good information and advice.

Are there any resources that have helped you along the way? If so, what were they?

I have done food tracking in the past, and that helped me.  I’m not tracking what I eat at the moment because now its easy for me to know how I’m doing “diet” wise by how I feel. If you eat right and are active, you feel better. On week days I track my steps with a pedometer. A pedometer works best for me because it’s small, convenient and simple.

What are you most proud of thus far?

I’m proud that I have been able to keep the 20 lbs off since I lost it (going on 1 year). It’s not easy to keep weight off once you lose it, but I stuck with my eating habits and walking.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?

“Keep your mind open.”  You need to be open to new things and open to advice. Give yourself an objective and you’ll get there. Pay attention to little tweaks you can make along the way to reaching your objective. Any little tweak can make a big difference. Remember to stay positive. It helped me to think about what I was already doing right and what I can do to make that better. Drop all negative thoughts and you will get there.

 

B.Educated, B.Inspired, B.Komplete

Nutrition and Food

B.Komplete Explore the Store: Stress Management… and Potatoes

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How Do Potatoes Relate to Stress Management?

Stress impacts us all.  And the one thing that is always true about stress – it never goes away.   At B.Komplete we are passionate about teaching consumers how to manage the stress we all face, in simple ways.  Food impacts our mood, and we can choose what we eat to impact how we feel.  In times of acute stress our levels of cortisol are UP, which increases are cravings for fat and sugar.  However, in that stressful time, the worst things we can eat are fat and sugar.  The best things to eat are foods that help to promote the release of serotonin, the hormone that relates to our good mood; feelings of wellness and calm.  Complex carbohydrates help to promote the release of serotonin.  Potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates.  

Come with us, as we explore the store in the potato aisle!

Nutrition and Food

Interview – Her Motivational Moment

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Dana is a young professional with a love for cooking and staying active. It didn’t start out that way – she didn’t always love to cook, or even know how to cook for that matter. Dana’s skills in the kitchen hovered just above knowing how to boil water. And her physical activity level was a far cry from a fitness enthusiast.

Back in 2012 Dana went to her Physician for her annual check-up. In her appointment she took a look at the height and weight chart that calculates your Body Mass Index (BMI). Dana calculated her BMI and was surprised that at her current weight she was considered overweight. She was surprised because “she didn’t feel that way,” but “couldn’t hide from the numbers.” Dana decided she had two choices, “live with it or make a change.” She decided to make changes and has successfully maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds for more than two years, gone from a size 8 to a size 2, lost 2 bra sizes and gained an entire new wardrobe! We asked Dana if she would share her experience with B.Komplete in an effort to help others in their quest for making healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes.

When you decided to make changes in your life what was the first thing you did?

The moment I decided that I wanted to make changes in my life I took some time to reflect on my choices. I didn’t begin making lifestyle changes right away. I took about a week or two to “check myself” by asking questions such as, was I living up to my ideal life. I allowed time for self-awareness and assessment. I did a mental inventory of my life.

How did you begin the physical process of changing your life?

I started running with my boyfriend. I wanted to spend more time doing activities together. In the beginning, I wasn’t able to keep up with his pace, “I was no speed demon.” But, wanting to spend time with him and being competitive helped to motivate me and work harder. My goal was to keep up with him on our runs. In the beginning it was difficult to keep up but I kept at it.

What type of goals did you set for yourself?

I didn’t set a big goal like “I’m going to lose this much weight by this date.” I set small goals along the way. If I ran for ten minutes without stopping one day I would shoot for fifteen minutes the next day. I set small achievable goals and made small incremental gains that resulted in larger gains over time.

What other changes did you make?

I did multiple things over a long period of time. I’m a “food nerd” so the thought of a restrictive diet was a worse case scenario for me. I began to learn how to cook. My weight was reflective of my lack of cooking skills. I learned a few simple things in the beginning to get started. I would choose recipes that were easier to make. Now, cooking has become a hobby for me. I have learned to cook many recipes from scratch. I view cooking as equally as important for sustaining my weight loss as I do the physical activity.

Was there anyone in particular who helped motivate you?

Beryl and I were room-mates for a year.  I witnessed that she practices what she preaches for nutrition consumption and portion control.  Beryl’s recipes are well-balanced, from a nutrition and a flavor standpoint.  Beryl is always active, and supported me in my pursuit by joining me at my level as a reliable work-out buddy. As I began to change so did my relationships and conversations with other people. My conversations became more about health. I would ask my family questions about cooking which lead to more conversations geared toward health.

Were your friends and family supportive of your efforts?

No one really noticed I was loosing weight until about a year after I began. Because I was making small changes over a long period of time I don’t think it was immediately noticeable. For the most part, people were supportive. But, sometimes they could make less than complimentary comments. I feel as though people sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy. It’s human nature to feel a bit jealous and have a lapse in support when someone else is accomplishing something you have not been successful in doing. It makes people look at themselves and reflect on their life and recognize their choices.

What resources do you use to help keep you going?

I have a never-ending supply of healthy recipes and workout plans. Having these tools eliminates the excuse of not knowing what to do or what to cook. I like Cooking Light for recipes and Fitness Blender for exercise routines. I like Fitness blender because the trainers doing the workouts are not “just in their sports bras with their hair down.” They’re saying “wow, I’m sweating” and I’m thinking yeah, me too, I’m glad to know they are feeling the same way I do when I work out!

Do you have a personal mantra or inspirational quote that you like?

I believe everyone needs one; mine is “yes you can.” On those days when I feel like my workout is to difficult I say to myself “yes you can.”

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of my life. I never set out with the goal of just losing weight. I wanted to increase my activity level and share more time with my boyfriend. As my activity level increased I began to lose weight. I have always liked me but now I like me even better. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out on a similar quest?

Start with small challenges that are achievable. If you hit a plateau push yourself to get through it. Be kind to yourself. I think people give up because they are too hard on themselves. Glitches happen, go back to your “mental buzzer” when you’re doing something that won’t help you reach your goal. If you make one “mistake,” don’t make two. Also, my activities became my hobbies. I stick with things I like which makes it easier to do. Find things you like to do. You need to have balance between physical activity and eating healthy in order to be successful.