Think back to your most productive workday in the past week. What did you have for lunch?
When we think about the things that contribute to our performance at work, we rarely give much thought to food. For those of us fighting to stay on top of meetings, emails, and deadlines, food is just one of those things required to get us through the day.
The foods we eat affect us more than we realise. With Petrol, you can reliably expect the same performance from your car no matter what brand of unleaded you put in your tank.
But Food is different. Imagine a world where if you filled up at BP it meant your car wouldn’t go faster than 40 kph, or filling up at Gull meant you could drive as fast as you like. You’d be a bit more careful where you purchased your gas?
Food has a direct impact on our mental performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon.
Here’s a brief rundown of why this happens. Just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re running low on glucose, we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach.
So far, so obvious. Now here’s the part we rarely consider: Not all foods are processed by our bodies at the same rate. Some foods, like pasta, bread, cereal and soft drinks, release their glucose quickly, leading to a burst of energy followed by a slump. Others, like high fat meals (think burgers and pies) provide more sustained energy, but require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us groggy.
Most of us know this already, yet we don’t always make smart decisions about our diet. In part, it’s because we’re at our lowest point in both energy and self-control when deciding what to eat. Hot chips and Pies are highly appealing when you’re mentally drained.
Unhealthy lunch options also tend to be cheaper and faster than healthy alternatives, making them all the more alluring in the middle of a busy workday. They feel efficient. Which is where our lunchtime decisions lead us astray. We save 10 minutes now and pay for it with weaker performance the rest of the day.
So what are we to do? One thing we most certainly shouldn’t do is assume that better information will motivate us to change. Most of us are well aware that scoffing down a processed mixture of chicken bones and leftover carcasses is not a good life decision. But that doesn’t make chicken nuggets any less delicious.
No, it’s not awareness we need—it’s an action plan that makes healthy eating easier to accomplish. Here are some tips worth trying.
1.Make your eating decisions before you get hungry. If you’re going out to lunch, choose where you’re eating in the morning, not at 12:30 PM. If you’re buying your lunch, decide what you’re having after a morning snack. Studies show we’re a lot better at resisting salt, calories, and fat if we don’t make decisions on an empty stomach.
2.Instead of letting your glucose bottom out around lunch time, you’ll perform better by grazing throughout the day. Spikes and drops in blood sugar are bad for your brain and productivity. Smaller, more frequent meals maintain your glucose at a more consistent level than relying on a midday feast.
3.Finally, make healthy snacking easier than unhealthy snacking. Bring a container of almonds or a selection of protein bars and keep them at your desk, where you can see them. Bring a bag of fruit to work at the start of the week so that you have them available throughout the week.
Is carrying fruit and nuts to work just a little ambitious? For many of us, the honest answer is yes. But thats why The Orchard Juicery & Kitchen is here.
Eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day isn’t simply good for the body—it’s also beneficial for the mind.