Struggling to get through your working day? Have you considered that the food you’re eating can make a significant difference to how you’re feeling and consequently how focused you are with your work projects? Making changes to your diet and lifestyle can give you a significant advantage; here’s my ultimate guide to ensure you’re firing on all cylinders to boost your productivity at work.
Don’t skip meals
As deadlines loom or your diary is full of meetings and appointments, try to avoid skipping meals. Make your meal your break; take the time to be mindful and enjoy the food you’re eating, even if you can only allow 10mins for this. Preparing your meals at home will ensure you have food to eat quickly and easily when you have a free moment in your busy schedule.
Breakfast will provide you with the energy you need to kick start your day and remain productive throughout the day. Combine a slow release carbohydrate with good quality protein and plenty of fibre to keep you full and slow down the release of sugars, for sustained energy until your next meal. Avoid cereals and refined carbohydrates, which will not sustain you and leave you craving. Good options include:
- Yoghurt with fruits, nuts and seeds
- Eggs with smoked salmon
- Overnight oats with chia seeds and fruit
- Avocado on sourdough toast with boiled eggs
Keep lunch portions moderate
Eating a large heavy lunch will leave you feeling tired and lethargic later in the day, particularly if your meal is made up of carbohydrates. To improve your focus and productivity, eat a lighter lunch, combining good quality protein with plenty of vegetables and limited carbohydrates to ensure you are energised and invigorated for the afternoon.
Planning is key so that you have good options that are convenient to take into work, for example:
- Falafel wrap with hummus and rocket
- Quinoa salad with (pre) roasted vegetables, chicken or tofu
- Tuna salad; include at least 5 salad varieties
- Sweet potato frittata
Avoid quick-fix snacks
You might be tempted to reach for an unhealthy snack either because it is convenient or simply out of boredom. Don’t! Avoiding these unsatisfying foods will go a long way to ensuring your energy levels and that you remain alert. Chocolate bars, cakes, biscuits, sweets and fizzy drinks are all very high in sugar and will play havoc with your blood sugar balance, subjecting you to sugar surges followed by debilitating sugar dips. Crisps are low in fibre and may fill you up quickly but you will feel hungry soon after. Beware also of shop bought energy bars that are very high in sugar and little more than glorified candy bars.
Try these wholesome choices instead:
- Homemade bliss balls that are very easy to assemble and will keep you fuller for longer whist providing plenty of good nutrients. Make a batch up at the weekend for the week ahead.
- Nuts and seeds that contain good fibre, protein and brain boosting fats
- Apple slices with a nut butter
Mild dehydration can impair focus and can cause symptoms such as anxiety, tiredness and fatigue. Drink plenty of water and try to limit coffee, which can leave you feeling tired and sleepy after the initial boost. To remain productive drink no more than 2-3 cups of good quality coffee before noon. You may need to reduce your intake gradually if you’re used to drinking more than this on a regular basis. Green tea contains less caffeine as well as L-Theanine, which is calming.
Keep a bottle of water at your desk that you can sip from throughout the day or a mug of herbal tea on-the-go, topping up with hot water if necessary.
Don’t skimp on sleep
A lack of sleep will leave you feeling foggy in the morning with little chance of fully concentrating. Focus on a sleep routine so that you aim for at least 7 hours sleep. Avoid using your computer, smart phone or tablets for a short period (around 30mins) before sleep, as these can be stimulatory.
Try to avoid a heavy late night snack before bed; stick with a milky drink, or a piece of fruit and only if necessary.
Boost your antioxidants
With a busy, stressful job, your body will have to work harder to make sure it is working as efficiently as possible and without adequate nutrients, some systems within the body will be compromised.
Eat a rainbow; choosing plenty of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits will deliver good nutrients to counteract the effects of stress and boost your immune health. Try a smoothie, keeping a ratio of 3 vegetables to 1 fruit and include fibre and protein-rich ingredients, such as oats or chia seeds, Greek yoghurt or a good quality protein powder
Good quality snacks can provide valuable antioxidants as well as an energy boost to help improve your focus and productivity, but do ensure that the snack you choose will sustain you.
- Energy balls are ideal as they contain dried fruit and nuts, providing you with good fibre and protein and a slower release of energy.
- Fruit can provide valuable sugars to boost concentration but opt for high fibre fruits such as bananas, pears and apples and combine with a small handful of nuts, which contain protein.
Read more about boosting productivity with your diet at MaySimpkin.com