This often means we end up with an afternoon slump after gorging on unhealthy food for lunch, just because it’s easy.
Instead, we should look for foods packed with nutrients and that release energy slowly. Foods which release it too fast (like a cheap sandwich or worse still, an energy drink) will leave us seriously considering a nap at 3pm; and foods that are high in fat and difficult to digest, like fast food, will leave us groggy for the whole afternoon. Wholesome food may take more time and effort to shop for and prepare, but we often make up for the extra few minutes with improved productivity later.
Try out the following and see if you notice a difference in your memory and performance:
Salmon – Rich in omega-3 – try adding a little to your sandwiches. You can also take a fish oil supplement.
Berries – Rich in antioxidants, and the darker the berry the better – try keeping a punnet on your desk to graze on, or making a smoothie out of frozen berries.
Green tea – Rich in antioxidants and a natural energy enhancer – try replacing one of your daily coffees with green tea for a week and see how the slower-release caffeine affects you.
Dark chocolate – A low-sugar treat – indulging your sweet tooth with a few squares of dark chocolate can help keep sugar cravings at bay and be a great motivational tool.
Nuts – Full of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, antioxidants and amino acids – try keeping a pot of almonds or walnuts within reach for easy grazing.
Avocados – Contain natural fats that are great for circulation – more than just a delicious millennial trend, the improved circulation will increase your alertness.
Bananas – Contain sugar and potassium – they’re a filling snack with the sugar packaged in a healthy, digestible form.
Eggs – Full of protein and B-vitamin choline, which are useful building blocks to stimulate your brain and muscles.
Brown rice – full of vitamins and high in magnesium – this is also a slow-burn fuel hitting that middle zone between easy digestion but slow release.
The other key ‘side dish’ to all of this is drinking lots of water. I know we’ve heard it over and over again, but it really is important when our body is 70% water! It keeps all our cells working well and helps flush through any waste and toxins. Keep a glass of water or a water bottle within your line of sight and it’ll be easier to remember.
The most difficult part of reforming our lunch habits is making changes practical. Psychology Today says that our self-control is at its lowest when we are hungry, so it’s key to decide what we’re having for lunch beforehand. This can mean planning where you are ordering from or bringing a packed lunch with you.
Grazing on fruit and nuts can also be a beneficial alternative to something from a vending machine. Keep a pot next to your water bottle and you’ll nibble on these instead – the key is making it easier to eat healthily. Getting a productivity boost from eating well is all about making realistic changes that work for you.