Healthy eating is often linked to general health and even weight loss, but it is not often considered in terms of productivity.
It might come as a surprise to learn that what you eat can directly impact how productive you are at work. In fact, those with unhealthy diets are 66% more likely to lose focus during the day, causing their productivity to plummet.
But, how can your diet have anything to with how well you work on a computer, a piece of machinery, or on the shop floor?
Well, the simple answer is that when your body is not getting the right fuel, it does not run at full capacity. That encompasses all the parts of your body, including your mind.
If you do not have a diet that provides you with the energy you need then, you may end up feeling fatigued and irritable with decreased motivation and a reduced ability to think clearly and work effectively.
So, what can you do about it?
Healthy Diet = Productivity
The simple answer is to improve your diet.
Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar for afternoon tea, try a piece of fruit instead along some nuts. Or a protein shake, perhaps. Why not try some Greek yogurt with mixed berries?
The refined sugar in sweet treats might give you the energy hit you need at the time. But eating them on a regular basis can create a dangerous habit. Once the sugar high of the chocolate bar wears off, your blood sugar plummets quickly. It can leave you feeling lethargic and craving more sugar. So, you reach for another sweet treat…
Suddenly a cycle of sugar high to sugar crash and sugar high starts to form. It is no good for your productivity (let alone your health) as those low periods will be full of distraction and brain fog.
Also, be mindful of your caffeine intake. Many of us fuel our days with coffee. But, it can create the same cycle of high and low that sugar does. Best to limit your coffee and energy drink consumption to a small amount per day. Remember, everything in moderation, including moderation...
Refined carbs can also shrink your productivity levels. Even though carbohydrates are an integral part of a healthy diet, refined carb-laden meals can leave you feeling sluggish. Try to avoid bread or pasta heavy meals during work hours.
So, what are the right foods to eat then?
Productivity Boosting Foods
A healthy balanced diet is a good start for boosting your productivity. That means plenty of each nutrient group - protein, carbs, good fats, water, vitamins and minerals. Maintaining these kinds of eating habits can reduce your stress levels, allow you to be physically and mentally active, improve your brain function, and have a positive impact on cell development in the brain.
There are certain nutrients that work better to boost your productivity, so try to incorporate these into your daily meals…
Folates: usually found in veggies and greens, these can boost your brain function (cooked veggie leftovers for lunch?)
Omega-3: these fatty acids are also great brain food and can be found in oily fish, walnuts and flax seed (think tinned salmon and tuna).
Vitamin C: snacking on berries and citrus fruits will keep you alert (or squeeze some lemon in water and kill two birds with one stone so to speak (= vitamin c + drinking water), although as a bird lover that is a horrible saying and we do not believe in killing birds, let me be the first to tell you that!)
Vitamin E: found in foods like nuts and in vegetable oils, this vitamin supports your immune function as well as your brain power (think more walnuts, almonds (no, not the chocolate ones, although the dark chocolate is pretty healthy, right?) and brazil nuts and so forth.
Bonus tip: 3 top tips why eggs are good for you:
- They contain all the amino acids (building blocks of proteins) that we need and hence are called a complete protein food
- They also are a great source of vitamins A and B12 and minerals like selenium, zinc and iron
- The great protein eggs provide helps keep us feeling fuller for longer (satiety) which helps to manage cravings for snack foods that may be high in salt and saturated fat
Eggs contain cholesterol. They used to have a bad rep as it was thought that cholesterol containing foods caused high blood cholesterol. It has been found though that the cause of high cholesterol is more to do with the saturated fat we eat rather than dietary cholesterol. Nowadays days eggs can be eaten every day of the week unless there is a problem with heart disease where it is recommended to have no more than 6 eggs a week (from Stephanie Mount - BSc Human Nutrition - Food for thought nutrition).
If this sounds complicated (it shouldn’t be, it is just food after all), plan your meals the night before!
If you find yourself unable to get through your tasks during the day, your diet could be to blame. Have a look at what you are eating throughout the day and try to substitute in some healthy alternatives.