How the Food We Eat Can Boost or Bust Our Productivity!
It’s not often that the average person thinks about what they eat— more so, how their dietary choices affect their happiness and productivity. Personally, I eat whatever lies around me to stay full, whether that be from a day old box of stale pizza or a packaged caesar salad. I don’t think twice about what I put in my body when it comes to food. However, I’ve noticed that eating a sumptuous meal of salmon, rice, and vegetables can sustain me for hours on end and causes me to thrive and be an efficient worker, while scarfing down cereal and a chocolate bar for lunch causes my health to physically shudder and crumble. I feel weaker when solely depending on foods that lack nutritional benefits for my sustenance, yet like most people, I continue to eat them anyways to fill me up because they are the easy way out. A handful of gummy worms or french fries is simpler to consume than going through the process of putting thought into a meal, and perhaps this habit should change.
There is a scientific link between healthy eating and productivity levels. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon.” Running low on the glucose that energy releasing food provides us can lower our strength and derail our concentration— the foods that result in these lower glucose levels are pasta, bread, cereal, and soda, which release glucose extremely quickly. Therefore, we have less energy to complete crucial tasks. Additionally, “high fat meals (think cheeseburgers and BLTs) provide more sustained energy, but require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us groggy.” It’s evident that when engaging in unhealthy eating, whether that be from low energy food to foods that slow us down, our productivity levels decrease and our body reacts to the physical consequences of our meal choices.
Additionally, in a study by the British Journal of Health Psychology, adults who ate more healthily over a 13-day period had greater wellbeing and also demonstrated more feelings of meaning and purpose at work. Simply put, the healthier food we eat, like less processed fruits and vegetables containing the nutrients we need, the better we feel. When consuming these foods, we gain essential nutrients like magnesium found in leafy greens, phenylalanine found in almonds, and choline found in eggs. As a result, our muscles can be relaxed, our anxiety levels can decrease, mood-boosting neurotransmitters are activated, and reaction time and concentration levels are improved.
However, healthy eating isn’t just limited to eating fruits and vegetables. It’s eating food that is satisfying to you, that fills you up and brings you joy despite how it might be societally considered unhealthy. It’s occasional indulgence, moderation, and having an overall solid relationship with food, not just making wise and constructive food choices. It’s taking care of your mental health and what will satisfy your brain beyond your stomach and body.
Ultimately, the next time you choose a meal when having to complete a large task or simply just to gain fuel to carry on through your day, consider choosing a meal you know will be mentally and physically fulfilling.