How Food Effects Workplace Performance
Did you go home from work yesterday still on fire from your mega productive work day? Or did you feel defeated from a day that you had, to drag yourself through ready to fall into bed and sleep it all away? Regardless of how you answered that question I also want you to remember what you ate for breakfast and lunch that day. A poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon of workplace performance.
Different foods digest differently and therefore have different effects on the body and mind. We all know that going hungry causes us to lose focus as our brains are become starved for glucose. Eating foods containing processed sugar will cause a spike of glucose which shortly results in a crash (that 3pm slump). Turning to high fat meals will provide a slightly more sustainable form of glucose but causes our digestive tract to work a lot harder which can put us in a fog and even become sleepy. Being mentally drained from poor food choices can send you into a downward spiral as it can cause you to make the same decisions about your meals later on in the day. A poor dinner choice can effect sleep patterns which can cause you to be groggy in the morning, which will lead to a need for that glucose spike and around and around we go. Starting to see the pattern here?
Making a good decision for your meal will send your neurotransmitters down a very different path promoting mental clarity and focus.
So what do you do to turn things around?
1- Make a plan: Note the times of your workday when you can eat. Plan your meals in advance and either make them ahead of time or know when you are going to pick them up and from where. Don’t wait until you glucose tank bottoms out and you are desperate for the nearest bear claw.
2- Educate yourself: Know the good foods and the bad foods so that you can make the right food decisions in a snap.
3- Take the first step: Just do it! I recommend starting with a light and healthy dinner the night before so that you get some good rest and start the next day with an advantage.
Foods that lower cognitive function:
1. Processed sugary foods/Junk Food
2. Processed fatty food/fast food
3. Dairy (its inflammatory properties can send your body into defense mode causing you to feel groggy)
4. Gluten (for those with gluten sensitivity)
6. Artificial sweeteners
Foods that Boost Brain Power:
1. Fresh fruit and veggies
2. Gluten free grains (quinoa, brown rice, millet)
4. Flax and chia seeds
5. Avocados and small amounts of raw nuts
6. 1-2 cups of coffee/green tea/yerba matte per day
So, next time you grab lunch, try getting a salad chalked full of fresh veggies, beans, grains and heathy fats with a light vinaigrette and notice the difference in your productivity the rest of the day.
Here’s to productive work days ahead!