Long before my nutritional therapy certification, I realized that what I ate had a direct effect on my business. As an entrepreneur, and someone who likes to keep busy(!), I count on having the energy it takes to fuel all my passions. It became apparent pretty early on in my career that when I made a nutrition misstep, I paid for it by feeling rotten and low energy. Not surprisingly, that low energy spilled over into my work. It feels terrible at the end of the day to come home feeling crummy from a poor eating decision coupled with getting nothing done at work. So, I vowed to start making better choices because what I eat affects my business.
Of course, I’ve had to learn over time what works and doesn’t work for me. Here are some options of what to avoid and what to embrace to make what you eat at work a smart return on investment.
What to avoid
Sugary drinks & candy – You’ve heard me rant about sugar before but let’s focus solely on productivity for a minute: Sugar will give you a temporary boost followed by a crash that will tank your productivity. And, if you happen to reach for an energy drink to pick you up at the crash, you’re only going to feed the beast with more sugar – and another crash.
Creamer – Coffee in moderation is okay but adding creamer to coffee is a sugary, additive-laden trap for your health. Black coffee is best, but if you must have something in your coffee, go for organic dairy half-and-half if you can tolerate it or yummy, no-sugar-added coconut milk.
Energy bars – Like creamer, many of these bars are loaded with artificial stuff (read the label) and lots of sugar. Some viable, healthy options are out there and can be good in a pinch, but I wouldn’t suggest them as a go-to option on a regular basis.
Convenience foods – All of the above items to avoid are essentially processed convenience foods, and in general, avoiding all such foods is a safe bet. Convenience foods are typically loaded with sugar, sodium, and additives to extend their shelf life. Who wants to eat a burrito that can last in a package for five years?
Skipping meals/eating too much – The two sides of this dangerous coin are going to make you miserable either way. Skip a meal and you’re going to get cranky and have trouble focusing. Eat too much and you’ll be asleep at your desk while your body works to metabolize all that food. Either way, your productivity will drop.
What to embrace
Breakfast! – Food is fuel and it’s important to fill our tanks in the morning so we have energy for the entire day. Check out my tips for some delicious, energizing breakfast ideas.
Go nuts – Tree nuts, those that grow on trees as opposed to in the ground (such as peanuts), are super easy grab-n’-go snacks. They provide both protein and healthy fats that keep our blood sugar on an even keel, avoiding the crash of sugary snacks.
Avocados, absolutely – Avocados are filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Their rich and creamy texture make for great eating on their own or in dips and smoothies.
Fruits & veggies – Eating a rainbow of color every day from fruits and vegetables provides our bodies with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which keep us healthy long term.
Protein – Protein is an essential building block for not just our muscles but also our neurotransmitters! Having adequate protein helps with mental clarity, memory, and even mood.
Good grains – A variety of whole grains (and NOT white flour) provides a healthy source of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are also necessary for optimal brain function and may help you get a good night’s sleep, so you’ll be ready to tackle tomorrow’s work day!
Time out to eat – It is sooo tempting to eat lunch at my desk while I catch up on a few emails or read an article on industry news, but studies show that “mindful eating” – paying attention to our meal – nets health benefits and decreases snacking.