Why do I get that afternoon slump? How can I keep myself motivated during the day? These are questions that I get asked a lot and it’s always interesting to get peoples perspective on whether they feel their diet has an impact on not just their health but their productivity at work. The answers I get are always the same; “I don’t feel it makes much of a difference”, “the sugar rush helps wake me up” or “eating sugary foods motivates me and helps me concentrate”. If this is your honest opinion then that’s fair but the reality is that science tells us poor nutrition has a negative effect on your productivity.
So what do we know?
The international labour organisation (ILO) explains that how we choose to eat can increase or decrease our productivity by 20%. This is supported by the World Health Organisation, the head of public health for the United Nations. These figures may not shock some of us but when you consider that UK employers face costs of up to £30 a year due to rising levels in obesity, sickness and absence from work, it really starts to paint the overall picture.
How does our diet alter our ability to work?
Eating foods high in omega 3 and essential fatty acids is crucial for cognitive function and development. Vitamin and mineral intake coupled with adequate hydration will ensure an enriched blood flow to the brain and the ability to maintain concentration and optimal function.
Less absence, increased morale and mood, concentration & engagement, creativity and increased motivation are all positive effects of a well-balanced, fibrous and nutrient dense diet.
Brain foods v Drain foods
Take a look at the below list of foods, which category do you fall into?
Fish, Beef, Milk, cheese and dairy, wild rice, nuts, seeds, flax, beans, seafood, dark chocolate, fruits & veg, whole grains, water
Refined sugars (milk or white chocolate, cookies, doughnuts etc), white starchy carbs (White rice, potato), fizzy drinks, salty or saturated fatty foods (processed meats or ready meals)
What can we do to change our bad habits?
Graze throughout the day
Grazing healthily throughout the day ensures your blood sugar level stays at a consistent level. Spikes and lows in blood sugar are bad for weight control, productivity and your brain.
Plan your meal in advance
Studies show we’re a lot better at resisting salt, calories, and fat in the future than we are in the present. Plan what you’re having before you get hungry and stick to it.
Make healthy snacking achievable
Place nuts, seeds and fruit within reach and make it easier to snack on healthier foods than sugary treats.