Here’s a question – what do you think about when you are packing your lunch? Likely you will think about what you have time to eat and what facilities are available such as a microwave. You might think about what is healthy or gives you a bit of a boost to avoid that afternoon drained period. But do you think about your productivity? Maybe you should because here we are going to look at how your productivity is determined by what you eat.
How food affects productivity
It is easy to think of food as the fuel that keeps us going. It is but different foods can have a different impact in their role of fuel – it’s a bit like putting diesel in a petrol car. Both are fuel but they don’t work properly in the wrong engine and the car won’t go anywhere. Food is a lot more complex than this but at the most extreme, our bodies can be like that petrol car – unable to go anywhere with the wrong fuel in the tank.
In terms of the day, lunch is also very important to keep your body full of fuel and therefore working well. This means eating lunch at a regular lunch time to avoid that feeling of being hungry, bad tempered or (if you are like me) even ending up feeling shaky if I have left it too late to get dinner.
How food affects your brain
Take the matter of how food affects your brain. Our brains use glucose as a primary fuel to keep working at top condition. We get glucose from lots of different foods but some release them at different rates. So, you can eat a sugar-coated doughnut (yes, tasty) and get 25 grams of glucose to give your brain a boost. But that glucose will be gone quickly and you will start to slow down, feeling the urge for more sugar to replace levels.
On the other hand, oats release the glucose that they contain at a much slower level. So they might not taste as nice and give you that instant sugar rush but they keep supplying your brain with the glucose it needs to keep at top performance levels for much longer.
Foods that boost productivity
While it might be clear that eating three doughnuts for lunch might taste great, you will soon be knackered, the question then becomes what foods boost productivity? Here’s a few that are easy to incorporate in your lunchbox.
Every seems to be talking about avocado at the moment but there is a good reason for it. In terms of foods that boost productivity, avocados are a natural stimulant and help the brain cells work at their best. They also contain healthy fats that give you energy and improve your focus.
From smoothies to fruit salads and many more options, berries are both tasty and easy to eat. There is also no end to the benefits for you. Because they contain antioxidants, this helps to boost the mental performance among other benefits. Generally, the darker the berry, the more the benefits so go for blueberries and blackberries for the top benefits.
Not all chocolate is a bad thing (yay!) so if you crave some chocolate, go for a dark version. This offers that little something sweet while the caffeine gives you a boost and also contains magnesium which helps ease stress.
Nuts are another great snack option and can easily be combined with berries and chocolate in a range of ways. Nuts have protein and fat to supply your body with what it needs as well as antioxidants and vitamins. Almonds and walnuts are top of the list.
Salmon contains fatty acids called Omega-3 and these are helpful for improving mental performance and improving memory (I should be eating a lot of them as my memory is terrible!). It also eases the symptoms of depression which drains productivity and makes you feel as if you can’t get anything done.
The most important thing to drink during the day is simple water – your body needs it for almost everything it does so making sure you keep your hydration up is crucial for productivity. We also use a lot of water during the course of the day so if you don’t replace it, we get dehydrated and that has a host of nasty side effects.
The other great thing to drink is green tea. It has natural energy-enhancing abilities with Matcha being the most effective to give you a productivity boost. It contains fibre that helps you feel full and process toxins out of your system as well as polyphenols, powerful antioxidants.
Changing your eating habits
To get the best foods for your health and work productivity, you may need to make some changes to your eating habits and also your preparation habits.
One key tip is about arranging your cupboards. Organise your cupboards so that those healthy, important foods are at the front because we are predisposed to grabbing the first thing we see on a morning to use in our lunch. So if you plan to have tinned salmon and avocado salad, then put the salmon at the very front of the cupboard.
Prepare snacks for during the day to help ease those spells when you feel hungry. That way, you don’t grab a high sugar alternative to give yourself a boost. A little box of nuts with a bar of dark chocolate is a good idea or even make yourself a smoothie with various berries to drink when you feel tired.
The last one involves a little psychology – use a smaller box or plate for your meal so that the food fills it. We automatically see a full box or plate as being a filling meal while a half empty one makes us think we still need something else to eat. So use the way our minds work in your favour and con yourself into being satisfied with your portion.
There’s no doubt that there’s a connection between food and productivity. How your productivity is determined by what you eat is proven and clear but sometimes it can be easy to go for the quick option, grab a sugary doughnut and call that lunch. But if you want to get the most done every day and maybe finish work earlier, depending on your job, then eating the right stuff for lunch is key.