Dr. Nesochi writes about eating habits to boost energy at work on Business Day.
My guest contribution for the Business Day Nigeria column Culinary Delights, writing about a few eating habits to boost your energy at work and improve productivity.
Eating habits to boost energy and workplace productivity
by: Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe for Business Day Nigeria
July 5, 2019
There are always challenges that go along with being an ambitious hardworking professional. Chances are that you’re always faced with long days at the office, tight deadlines, meetings, and travel. Have you noticed though that there are some colleagues of yours that still seem to thrive and perform exceptionally well irrespective of any obstacle or stressors they face at work? Sometimes one key difference between you and that super productive colleague boils down to who is making better dietary choices. Nonetheless, your food choices matter and some dietary habits may be actually zapping you of energy and leading you to be less productive at work.
In order to stay pumped up and energized throughout the course of the work day, keep in mind some habits you will want to eliminate as well as those to incorporate in your life.
Never skip out on drinking water! Water has a critical role in many of the body’s physiological processes. Nonetheless, drinking insufficient amounts of water translates into a lowered energy state, whereby one may feel weak, lethargic, and experience a reduced level of cognitive functioning. Stay hydrated throughout the course of the day and don’t ignore any signs that the body gives indicating that you may be dehydrated.
Say no to Ultra Processed Foods/Junk Foods
Processed foods are those that have been industrially packaged or modified from its original natural state such as chips, frozen meals, canned meat, packaged cakes or desserts, candy, etc . It may seem obvious to avoid such items, but the reality is that for so many busy professionals the day is so fast paced that it seems more convenient to just grab a bag of chips or another accessible unhealthy snack when you get hungry. You must realize though that such options have little to no nutritional value and may be filled with trans fats, preservatives, additives, salt, and sugars that are quite unhealthy. Eating a lot of these kinds of food, not only contributes to lethargy and fatigue, but it also increases one’s risk for cardiovascular disease and even obesity.
Don’t over do it on caffeine
Far too many professionals are dependent on coffee to give them the immediate boost of energy they desire to get through the work day. Coffee in moderation does have some health benefits, however, consuming excess caffeine may lead to serious problems with anxiety, insomnia, loss of focus, irritability, and even heart palpitations. You may consider switching to green tea which contains less caffeine than coffee, but still has a sufficient amount to provide some energy. Green tea is also highly antioxidant rich and contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has a calming effect and may aid in reducing anxiety throughout a stressful day.
Seek out your “brain food”
This means to indulge more in those power foods that can help nourish the brain and can keep you sharp while on the job. Some foods that have been shown to promote brain health and improve memory include berries, fish with omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, tomatoes, and leafy green veggies like kale or spinach.
Eat a nutritious breakfast to jumpstart your day
You may think that mornings are too busy to make time for breakfast, however starting the morning with a nutritious breakfast is key. In fact, some research has linked routinely skipping breakfast with an increased risk of cardiovascular related death. So carve out time for breakfast and ensure that the meal includes “good carbohydrates” that will sustain your energy levels throughout the day. Some food items to consider include whole grain oats, bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, and even greek yogurt.
Always Maintain Good Portion Control
As a hardworking professional you are likely always in a crunch for time, so perhaps you use that brief moment you have available to devour as much food as possible. Don’t fall victim to finishing an entire pack of your favorite snack in one sitting or going for multiple servings of a meal being served at the company event. Remember, the goal is to nourish your body with just the right amount of nutrients to keep you healthy, focused, and productive at work. Avoid over saturating the body with unwanted excess calories, as this can leave you feeling sluggish and tired at work.
Here is the takeaway: You must eat smart and healthy to adequately fuel your body and allow yourself to be as productive as possible on the job.