Lunch hour. A mid-day pause that can make or break your entire day. Have you wondered why on certain days a lunch break invigorates you, while on certain other days it leaves you feeling sluggish and low on energy? If you have suspected that the contents of your lunch box are the culprit, you couldn’t be more right. But it goes beyond one meal. Our eating habits have a direct relation to our productivity levels. Ingredients from the food that we consume can help us focus and concentrate better. Wondering how? Read on.
Food is converted into glucose, which gives us energy. Our brain requires energy to stay alert and function at an optimum level. If we are low on energy/glucose, our brain cannot focus and we become distracted. Ever heard the term ‘hangry’? Well, it is a real thing. An empty stomach can make us irritable and keep us from the task at hand.
So the logical thing will be to just eat, right? But just grabbing the first that appears isn’t the solution either. As we get hungrier, we tend to get lower on energy. At such moments our self-control isn’t at its peak either. At this time, we immediately get attracted to the tastiest and the most appetizing foods. This isn’t such a great idea because all foods are not the same.
Food items that are high on trans and saturated fat, make our digestive system work harder which subsequently leads to lesser oxygen in our brain. This makes us feel sluggish and low on energy. This is also the reason why that all-you-can-eat-buffet for the team lunch leaves everyone in a food coma and no work gets done in the second half of the day.
The fact is, we are all aware of the reasons to eat healthy by intuition, if not because of information. The challenge is to make the food choices that can help us become more productive at work. How do we do this without making monumental changes to our diet or sacrificing a huge part of our salary every month? Here are a few pointers.
Plan your break and meals – Don’t wait till you are hungry to think about your next meal. Instead of letting your glucose levels drop, make your meal choices beforehand. If you plan your meals, you can make a conscious choice about what to consume during the day. It doesn’t have to be a calorie counted meal, but you can always choose a multigrain sandwich over that double cheese hamburger.
Don’t Skip Meals– Carrying lunch to work is of absolutely no use if you don’t eat it on time. Skipping meals will eventually lead you to binge or make unhealthy food choices. Take those fifteen minutes off and have your lunch along with a conversation with a colleague or read a book in the breakroom. Ensure you nourish your brain with periodic breaks, just as you nourish your body.
Snacks – Snacks are your power tools during the day. Not only are they fun, they also help you maintain your glucose levels and hence your awareness levels throughout the day. But once again, choose the right snacks.
All this talk about eating right must have left you wondering what is it that one can eat to avoid to feeling low on energy. Foods rich in folate, omega—3 fatty acids, vitamin C and vitamin E, are great for mental alertness and productivity levels. Make sure you avoid frying food or coating it with film of sugar or salt before eating it. Processed food, irrespective of its ingredients, is low on nutrients. Try to consume foods in their natural form.
It may seem like a lot of effort but taking these steps is an investment in your physical and mental wellbeing. A few steps towards making this change can mean an energetic you throughout the day irrespective of the lunch hour.
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