Our lives tend to be overscheduled and eating healthy lunches during a busy week is a challenge. It’s easy to grab a slice of pizza, pick up a meatball sub, or order greasy takeout. But when your schedule is packed, that’s when your body needs a healthful meal to perform at its peak.
If you’re feeling sluggish in the afternoon, there are a number of foods you can incorporate into your lunch that optimize brain function. These meal ideas will help you dive into the second half of your day feeling refreshed, energized, and focused.
5 Lunches That Increase Brain Performance
1. Open-Faced Avocado Sandwich
This basic standby is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up when you’re feeling sluggish and craving carbs. Top sprouted multi-grain bread with half an avocado, a squeeze of lime, a pinch of salt, and thinly sliced radish or arugula for a little bite. It’s ‘avocado toast’ without the toasting. Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fats (the “good” kind) as well as vitamin K and folate, which help prevent blood clots in the brain. These vitamins also improve cognitive function, especially memory and concentration.
2. Roasted Chickpea Gyros
Instead of running for the street carts at lunch, bring your own gyro. Stuff a whole wheat pita with tzatziki made with 0% greek yogurt for a satisfying protein punch, meaty roasted chickpeas, lettuce, red onion, and tomatoes. Beans, such as chickpeas, are loaded with protein and complex carbohydrates that keep blood-sugar stabilized throughout the day. Beans prevent mid-afternoon “sugar crashes” and keep the brain performing at its peak all day long.
3. Beet Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese
Dress baby spinach with slices of roasted beets, walnuts, goat cheese, and a squeeze from a fresh orange. The goat cheese will satisfy your cheesy cravings while providing easy-to-digest protein. Beets are loaded with natural nitrates that increase blood flow to the brain, helping with mental performance. Walnuts have almost twice as many antioxidants as almonds, peanuts, and pistachios. Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds that prevent cells from damage from free radicals. Some research has gone so far as to claim that antioxidants will reduce your risk of dementia.
4. Red Cabbage Wrap with Peanut Sauce
Create a shredded red cabbage salad with carrots, thinly sliced red pepper, green onion, and cilantro. Dress with a homemade peanut sauce and spicy sriracha then wrap it up in a multigrain tortilla for simple a flavorful lunch. Incorporate whole roasted peanuts to help boost the meal’s staying power and curb afternoon snack cravings. Red cabbage is filled with vitamin K and anthocyanins that help with brain function, concentration, and help prevent nerve damage. A crunchy, affordable, superfood!
5. Tofu and Broccoli with Cauliflower Rice
Whip up a big batch of tofu broccoli using any recipe you find online, but instead of serving with white rice make or buy cauliflower rice. Pre-portion the batch and reheat at work to nip your urge to order takeout. This meal stays with you because it’s low-carb and high-protein and fiber. Broccoli, like many of the other foods listed here, is high in vitamin K to boost concentration. Cauliflower is packed with vitamin B, which improves learning and memory. Yummy brainfood!
In addition to eating healthy, taking just 3 minutes to meditate during your lunch break is another way to rev up your brain power at work. Studies have shown that adults who meditate find it easier to concentrate at work and be more productive. To learn more about the benefits of mindful meditation, visit avsmindfulness.com. Don’t forget to check back for the upcoming release of our mindfulness meditation app!