It’s no secret that the mind and body are connected. And while us knowledge industry workers should know full well that we ought to take care of ourselves and eat right, it’s not always easy to put that into practice. We lead busy lives, and preparing proper, healthy meals for ourselves can be a challenge.
But what if you knew that every meal you eat has a tangible, measurable impact on your business’ most important asset – your brain? How would you change your eating habits if you knew that every little tweak was bringing you one step closer to peak productivity?
Here are just a few ways that what you eat impacts how you work.
Want to Find Happiness? Eat Like a Greek
According to a 2015 study referenced in Psychology Today, maintaining a Mediterranean-style diet can make you happier. This two-year study of 84 adults found that the people who reported the happiest moods were those who consumed the most fiber, water, magnesium, tryptophan, ascorbic acid, and selenium – all nutrients that are found in high concentrations in a Mediterranean-style diet.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in healthy foods, with every meal based around fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, seeds, legumes, herbs, and spices. The diet also includes a moderate amount of fish, moderate portions of cheese and yogurt, and the occasional lean poultry.
The study also found that the more variety in your diet, the higher your mood – so don’t just stick to one or two fruits. Mix it up!
Fat & Fasts: An F in Nutrition
So you’re in the middle of a sprint. A big project needs to be out the door ASAP, and while you could stop for a quick lunch break, powering through your work would be way more satisfying. Plus you’ll stay in the zone instead of breaking your concentration, which means you’ll end up with a better product that’s done sooner – right?
Fasting during the day is one of the worst eating (or, more aptly, non-eating) habits you can pick up. Failing to eat often enough causes your blood sugar to drop, which means your brain has less fuel to burn, and you can’t think as well.
(It also causes you to start feeling hangry, which isn’t pleasant for anyone.)
So what should you do instead? Stock up on the fatty foods so you feel fuller?
While a high-fat meal will give you a sustained boost of energy, it also takes more energy for your body to digest that meal – so you’ll start getting groggy before you become more alert.
(To be fair, new research is showing that generally speaking fat isn’t as unhealthy as we used to think it is, but when it comes to mental alertness, it’s not ideal.)
Instead, you’ll want to have some high-protein, high-fibre foods on hand that you can snack on as needed.
A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Mood(icine) Go Down
Mary Poppins may be a wonderful nanny, but her nutrition advice is awful.
(We can’t blame the entire heart disease epidemic on her cheerful little ditty about everyone’s favourite coffee additive, but we can safely say that she should not be in charge of cooking for any of her wards.)
As it turns out, a diet that is high in sugar does not make it possible for you to jump into paintings where cartoon penguins dance with live-action chimney sweeps. But it does increase the amount of inflammation in and oxidative stress on your brain, which can exacerbate mood disorders and impair your thinking.
In other words: While it’s true that a little sugar every now and then isn’t going to kill you, it’s also true that too much sugar makes you dumb and depressed.
Eating well enough to keep your brain working gets more difficult during the winter months, when it’s tempting to replace fruits & vegetables with processed meats, sugary sweets, and the bad kinds of fat. But by simply setting a meal plan and sticking to it, you can give your brain a lasting boost.
Want to learn more great nutrition tips? Local nutritionist Maddie Elise has prepared a meal planning guide available exclusively to Winter Survival Kit buyers. Get your Winter Survival Kit today and learn why Maddie says the first meal you should start planning…is dessert!
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