At some point during the working week, the majority of us will — unless we’re superhuman — have a moment (or five, or six) where we quite simply run out of steam, struggle to concentrate, or can’t for the life of us remember what we had to get done before that all-important meeting. But did you know that a lot of those moments could be down to your diet?
Food is, without a doubt, one of the greatest pleasures in life; but for many of us, the relationship is a complicated one. When we’re tired and need a pick-me-up, we naturally turn to coffee; when we’re hungry but in a rush, we grab for the convenience food; and when we’re stressed and in need of a quick release, we reach for a large glass of wine or a pint of something cold and refreshing. But what effect is it having in the long-run?
From fluctuations in blood sugar levels to vitamin deficiencies, food and nutrients can play havoc with your emotional and mental well-being; affecting your ability to stay alert, motivated, and even awake. But by making a few simple changes to what and how you eat, both at home and in the workplace, you can make yourself feel happier, healthier and raring to go.
• Problem foods: Foods that typically cause us the most problems — and are, annoyingly, what we tend to enjoy, crave, and spend our afternoons dreaming of — often contain sugar, wheat, dairy or additives. Limiting your intake of these can help you to manage a range of mental health issues; from insomnia and fatigue, to memory difficulties.
• Problem drinks: Whilst caffeine can give you a much needed boost in the mornings, drinking too much tea and coffee can lead to anxiety, nervousness and depression. We all love a nice hot drink in the mornings, but why not try a cup of hot water with a slice of fresh lemon to detox your system; or a few mint leaves to aid digestion? And whilst alcohol is great in moderation, note the word ‘moderation’.
• What to eat: Protein — which can be found in meat, fish, eggs, cheese and nuts — helps to balance blood sugar levels; an imbalance in these can trigger irritability, poor concentration, fatigue, depression, and food cravings. You should also up your intake of essential fatty acids (such as Omega 3 which can be found in oily fish), as this is the ultimate brain food. And we don’t need to lecture you here about the importance of your five-a-day.
• What to drink: Drinking 6-8 glasses of water every day is vital for keeping you hydrated and flushing toxins out of your system. Drinking plenty of water can also stop you from snacking on that big block of Daily Milk, as people often confuse thirst with feelings of hunger.
Busy lifestyles can make it all too easy to skip breakfast, grab lunch on the go, or tuck into an unhealthy mixture of convenience food after a long hard day at work; but with a little planning, you can make your mid-week meals work for you — giving you the energy you need to tackle the week ahead.