Since we’ve been talking about productivity a lot lately, I decided I would make you aware of the most basic, important and primitive trigger for productivity: Food!
We are used to hearing about productivity hacks, organizational structures and a bunch of recommendations of how we can stop procrastinating and become a well-oiled machine that manages to do everything on the to-do list on time and still have time and energy to be a perfect boyfriend, wife, parent, or whatever responsibility we have outside of work.
I shouldn’t have to say this, but the food is important. Its basic purpose is to fill our bodies with the necessary nutrients to fulfill each natural process as well as give us energy and regenerate muscle mass as well as bone mass. Although we all know what food does to us, we just tend to have not so great eating habits, and let’s be honest here, we kind of give priority to convenience rather than nutritional content. Well, I’m sorry to say that, but we are making more harm than good by eating conveniently!
Let’s analyze what happens and how it affects our productivity when we eat simple carbohydrates such as muffins or pastries, and what happens when we eat fast food for lunch thinking that it is more productive to eat something fast and simple that can be acquired right next to the office.
Simple carbohydrates are the ones that don’t come from a natural source such as rice or potatoes; carbs are processed by the brain as sugar, meaning that we get the generally-known “sugar high”, making us feel great and full of energy…for 30 minutes. The body breaks down those food molecules so fast that once the sugar wears off, the brain has no more energy to perform simple tasks, leaving us tired, confused and slow. Needless to say, there is nothing more unproductive than a brain with no energy to perform simple tasks, let alone working efficiently.
On the other side, we have greasy and filling fast food (fast food salads are also fast food). Even when we choose the least awful option, fast food is characterized by having a lot of carbs, saturated fats, sugar, and salt. It is so heavy that our bodies require a lot of energy to be able to break down the food and absorb the few nutrients that can be found among such terrible ingredients. Spending so much energy in digestions means that the energy cannot be used for other things such as working. The feeling of grogginess can even last for the whole day, leaving us tired and unproductive.
Going to the exact opposite, not eating or eating too little because we “don’t have time to eat” is also a terrible idea: if we don’t have time to eat, it means that we have a ton of things to do which also means that we require energy to be able to do them. Energy doesn’t appear on its own! We need food to supply the energy required to work all day and perform every single task on our list.
Now, after pretty much telling you what not to do, I’m not going to leave you there hanging. I’ll present some foods that contain all the nutrients necessary to perform every task efficiently while taking little to none time to prepare and eat! You can just throw them in your bag and eat them while you work, being absolutely sure that what you are putting in your mouth is beneficial for your health and your work.
You’ve probably heard this before, but nuts are great! They are packed with protein and natural fat that will not only keep you full for longer periods of time but also the antioxidants, vitamin E and amino acids in them help increase brain performance and memory. The best part is that you can just throw a bag of nuts in your bag and eat them whenever: they won’t go bad or get squished.
Berries are very rich in antioxidants, they not only help with memory but also prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in the long run, which is a great plus! The darker the berry, the more antioxidants it has. They are easy to eat and taste great, at least in my opinion. You can just snack on some blueberries while you work and you would be powering your brain without even noticing.
Glucose equals energy, and bananas are just the best food for ingesting glucose, besides keeping you full for a long time, allowing for no distractions while you work such as your stomach grumbling. They are also a great snack to take to work given that you don’t even have to pack them (they have their own case).
Not only is it easy to take, but it is also packed with protein, minerals, and probiotics which help the digestive system. Yogurt will help regenerate muscle while giving you energy and brain power to crush your to-do list!
This last one is the greatest one of all: you probably already have tons of coffee every day anyways. Caffeine is known for its antioxidants and amino acids while also improving memory. As a plus, coffee can wake you up and help you be more alert, and you can probably find it at the office already. Just don’t replace a meal with coffee, take it as an addition.
I understand that sometimes, fast food and muffins are the only things available so I encourage you to try to get the best option available: whole wheat bread, low in sugar if possible, are a better option than a simple pastry packed with refined sugar and white flour. In fast food chains, look for lean proteins such as chicken breast or turkey and keep in mind that sauces and dressings hide more sugar and fat than you can imagine. Lastly, when a burger is just calling your name, don’t order fries, keeping the fat as low as possible and allowing your brain to use its energy for productive working.
Once you start eating mindfully and you realize how energized and productive you feel, you won’t ever want to go back to the old habits.