Food provides us energy to live. Many of us eat to live, while others live to eat. Whatever may be your choice, you cannot survive without food. Food is something that can elevate your mood, give you positivity and make you more productive at work. A proper diet is required to make our body work. Most of the times, we associate words like ‘diet’, ‘food’, ‘nutrition’ with weight control and fitness. This is right. But there is much more to these words than mere weight and fitness. Food affects your mental and emotional state; it helps your mind to stay alert, solve problems and increases your work outcomes.
In this age of rat-race and competition, we hardly find time to take care of our diet. In a rush to go office early, you skip breakfast, take whatever you get in lunch, gorge on junk items and keep on snacking biscuits, popcorns and processed items whenever you get time, to compensate for the missed meal. Along with healthy eating habits, which comprises of 5-6 small meals and drinking 10-12 glasses of water throughout the day, you must eat right. You must take all the six ingredients of nutrition- carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water in right proportion. Eating right will help you to stay healthy. A healthy body and mind makes you fit enough to produce good quality work. Thus your performance at work is greatly affected by what you eat and how you eat.
To understand the relation between proper nutrition and productivity, you must know how an incomplete diet affects your day at work. When you have poor eating habits, your body do not receive nutrients that are required to make it grow and work properly. As a result you may face one or more of the following health issues:
- High cholesterol
- Tooth decay
- Heart disease
If you have any of these diseases, you cannot keep on performing well. More specifically in your day-to-day work life, an improper diet may cause:
- Decreased energy levels
- Increased fatigue
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Increased irritability
- Higher stress and depression levels
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Lower cognitive performance
Now that you know the bad effects of poor diet, you must start eating healthy. Try these simple steps to eat right:
- Kick start your day with a heavy breakfast that will speed up your metabolism. A breakfast full of whole grains, low-fat protein and low-fat diary will give you energy to feel active throughout the day. It will increase your concentration levels. Don’t pick up grab-and-go breakfast foods from the nearest grocery store or bakery.
- Your glucose level drops down when you feel hungry. This is bad for your brain. Lesser energy levels will restrict you from performing well. You must opt for small meals throughout the day. If you had your breakfast at around 8 in the morning, don’t wait for lunch till 12:30 p.m. Take one fruit or some salads of your choice at around 10 a.m. Smaller meals at regular intervals will help you maintain your glucose levels consistently.
- If you plan to lunch out, don’t wait for signals from your stomach. Choose your favourite eatery and order food before you start feeling hungry. Studies show when you feel hungry, you start craving for food that are high on calories. And when you are too full, you feel less driven towards work.
- Go for healthy snacks like fruits, salads, nuts, dry fruits etc. Bring small containers full of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, raisins and protein bars and keep those by the side of your computer. Bring a basket of fruit and set reminders on your phone to buy those at least twice a week. Whenever you feel hungry in between meals, go for your favourite fruit or nuts. Don’t skip snacking how much busy you may be.
- Include enough iron in your diet. Iron deficiency make you feel tired, irritable and weak and this may lead to decreased cognitive functioning. Don’t go for supplements as these cannot be easily and readily absorbed by the body. Instead eat food that are rich in iron like dark meat chicken, dark green vegetables, tofu, oysters, mussels, lentils, beans, spinach etc.
- Opt for some leafy green vegetables that have the power to boost your mood. These have fiber, plant-based substances along with minerals and vitamins. All these ingredients may help to protect you from diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Have vegetables like kale, collards, turnip greens, spinach, broccoli, mustard greens, cabbage and iceberg lettuce in your breakfast and lunch. Besides, these green vegetables also help in slowing the digestion of both refined and unrefined starchy carbohydrates. Due to this slow digestion, your body muscles and brain can get energy from these carbohydrates for longer time.
- Home-made food is the best option for lunch. If you don’t have time, hire a maid who will cook and pack your lunch. With home-cooked meals, you can resist from the temptation of skipping meals, joining your friends for unhealthy junk food, ordering oily, spicy foods from outside. After all, a lunch cooked with healthy fats and protein is far better than that fat, luscious burger that will not keep your body and brain humming.
- Taking 2-3 cups of coffee is okay. Caffeine certainly boosts your metabolism and makes you alert. But overdoing the caffeine will ham your productivity levels. And your work outcome levels will be very basic.
- Your body requires healthy fats for proper regulation of moods and functioning of brains. Have enough fish, fish oil supplements, walnuts etc. for nourishing your body.
- Researches show that the more fruits and vegetables you include in your daily food consumption, the more engaged and creative you may be, whether at your home or workplace. Nutrients in fruits and vegetables promote the production of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps a person to experience feelings of motivation, engagement and motivation. The antioxidants present in fruits and veggies help in improving memory and minimizing bodily inflammation. All these play vital roles in achieving great workplace performances.
Remember foods that you eat enter your blood stream and then flow to the brain. Thus what you do, think and feel is affected by your foods. Eat right to boost your brain power, increase your productivity and of course, to stay healthy.