If your mid-afternoon slump leaves you reaching for that energy drink for a quick boost, it could be that your diet isn’t serving your work performance. When it comes to making food choices, often convenience and taste comes before nutrition, and that may be understandable.
From that morning muffin to your lunchtime burger, fat and carb-laden food can leave you suffering with brain fog and a lack of energy. Aside from leaving you feeling lousy, a bad diet can lead to poor productivity at work and a high level of absenteeism.
Health company Vielife did a study on 40,000 working adults. It showed respondents with poor nutrition scores reported 50 per cent more sickness absence than those with good scores. Furthermore, employees with poor nutrition are 15 per cent less productive than those with better nutrition.
Food is fuel. Put junk in = expect junk out.
Let’s look at what could be triggering those episodes and how you can make smarter, healthier choices that will help you bring your ‘A’ Game at work.
THE BAD GUYS...
White bread, pasta, and carbs
High carbohydrate foods may give you that quick breakfast boost, but they release their glucose into the bloodstream quickly. This results in a rapid energy slump, poor cognitive function, and a rubbish mood.
Meat, burgers, and high-fat meals
Fat-based foods provide more sustained energy than processed carbs but require our digestive system to work harder. When your body’s spending all its reserves on digestion, it reduces your brain’s oxygen levels, making you feel groggy.
HOW TO EAT TO WIN AT WORK
Make great food choices
If you’re working a physical role like a labourer job in a contract trade, you need quality sources of fuel. The key is to find foods that avoid that dreaded glucose spike. White meat, pulses, eggs and nuts are great sources of protein that offer a sustainable energy boost.
Carbs are essential too, but in the form of complex, wholegrain carbs. Since they take longer to break down, they offer prolonged energy release. Think wholegrain pasta instead of white pasta, buckwheat pancakes for breakfast instead of flour ones. Switch that breakfast bacon roll to an avocado and brown rice wrap and you’ll be nicely fuelled until lunch.
Plan, plan, plan
When you’re lunching on the fly, you’re prone to making more impulsive choices. One study even revealed that the hungrier you are, the more you seek instant gratification (in this case, a tempting burger and fries).
Whether it means packing your own healthy lunch or choosing in advance where you will eat, the secret is to make these decisions before you’re hungry rather than when you are. It may take a bit of willpower at first, but weekly meal-prepping will save you money and time in the long run, as well as helping you meet those nutritional needs.
Eat like a cow
And graze. By having regular, healthy snacks throughout the day you’ll be avoiding those perilous blood sugar spikes and drops. Keep a stash of natural protein bars or nuts in your bag ready for munching. It goes without saying fruit is a healthy snack to grab on the go, as are wholegrain crackers or rice cakes as well.
Although three nutritious meals a day is still the way to go, interspersing them with power-snacking is a great way to banish those hunger pangs. By eating little and often you’ll be keeping your appetite satisfied, provide yourself with a regular stream of nutrients and keep your metabolism running nicely, giving you the energy you need to perform at work.