You know the score… Hectic workdays, long meetings, countless business trips, and your eyes glued to your computer screen, day in, day out. When are you supposed to get the time to think about a health-conscious diet, right?
This edition of e-PA: Wellbeing continues our theme of ‘Work-Life Balance’, by discussing the benefits of a healthy diet, and the success and increased workplace performance you will see as a result of looking after your wellbeing more.
Healthy Nutrition and the Workplace
Stress in everyday work life, coupled with unhealthy and lazy eating habits are often reasons for an imbalanced metabolism which, in turn, is a primary driving force for obesity and illness. Additionally, a health-conscious diet is key to success, as it increases our performance and gives us long-term energy and vitality. Put simply, what we put into our bodies directly affects what we put out.
Clean Eating equals More Energy
Healthy, clean foods are filled with slow-digesting carbohydrates. These take far longer to digest than unhealthy, rapidly-digesting carbohydrates, meaning the energy they provide is released into our bodies at a much slower and more stable rate. The result is more consistent energy levels, that last the whole day. Clean foods are packed with the nutrients our bodies need to operate properly. They support almost every function you can think of – For example, vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, chloride helps keep the fluid levels within our body balanced, and potassium helps keep blood pressure under control.
In contrast, processed foods deprive the body of essential nutrients, preventing it from functioning properly. They are also packed with higher levels of rapidly-digesting carbohydrates, which are released into the bloodstream at a much faster, and less stable rate, meaning our energy levels will peak, followed by a terrible crash.
More energy means jobs are completed quicker, more tasks are finished in a day… more time! It also gives us that much-needed willpower to get us to the gym, go out for dinner with a friend or loved one, or even work on side hustles or volunteer projects. More energy = more time to do what you love!
More energy also means we are more focused at work, keeping us present in meetings, with an increased focus on detailed projects or reports, getting us through our to-do lists or any last-minute tasks. Clean eating provides your body with the energy it needs to tackle the toughest parts of your day, while still allowing us to spend time with our passions and purpose, after work.
Boost Your Immune System
Another key benefit of clean eating is that the wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in these foods help keep our immune systems strong. Your immune system is what keeps you safe from disease, infection and foreign bodies. A strong immune system reduces your chances of getting sick. Eating clean can keep us safe from almost any chronic disease. While it’s still not known exactly why the nutrients in whole foods can protect against disease, study after study has consistently shown the power of a healthy diet when it comes to disease prevention.
Consuming unhealthy foods has the opposite effect and can actually increase your risk of developing chronic diseases. For example, according to an article from Medical News Today, 1/3 of all cancers are linked to poor dietary choices. Following a limited, unhealthy diet of processed foods means that our bodies don’t get all these immune-system-boosting nutrients, resulting in weaker immune systems, making us more susceptible to disease, infection and foreign bodies, leaving us much more open to illness.
Productivity > Stress & Burnout
Optimal body function and higher energy levels mean fewer sick days and higher productivity at work. When we fuel our bodies with the proper nutrition, we’re more likely to be on our game, and have the willpower to protect our time boundaries, by minimising distractions. We’ll also have the focus and clarity we need to tackle the tough projects, come up with the brilliant ideas in the strategy meeting, handle any fires that come our way and make decisions in the best interest of our business.
Did you know eating clean can also help you reduce stress? It’s true! Certain foods are known for their stress-busting nutrients. And the best part? Carbs are included! All carbs prompt the brain to make more serotonin. For a steady supply of this feel-good chemical, it’s best to eat complex carbs, which take longer to digest. Good choices include whole-grain breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals, including old-fashioned oatmeal.
Foods high in magnesium, like spinach, kale, edamame and salmon, help prevent headache and fatigue, caused by excess stress. Plus, magnesium is shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, often exacerbated by the stress response.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish such as salmon and tuna, can prevent surges in stress hormones, while drinking black tea may help you recover from stressful events more quickly. Almonds are chock-full of helpful vitamins: vitamin E to bolster the immune system, plus B vitamins, which may make us more resilient during bouts of stress or depression.
Keep a few of these key ingredients on hand, especially when things at work start to heat up. Regular stress management helps prevent burnout and the development of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.
Hydration Hydration Hydration!
Getting enough water every day is important for your health. Drinking water can prevent dehydration, a condition that can cause unclear thinking, resulting in mood changes, cause your body to overheat, and leading to issues like constipation and kidney stones.
Water helps your body:
- Keep a normal temperature
- Lubricate and cushion joints
- Protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
- Get rid of waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
Productivity also increases, as a person drinks water, according to a new study by the University of East London, which found that a person’s brain is better able to focus on tasks after he or she has enough water to drink.
According to the results of the study, a thirsty person’s brain consistently sends the message of thirst to the body. Satisfying that thirst frees the brain’s attentional resources and improves a person’s ability to function, think and perform better. It also relieves dehydration which saps energy and creates tiredness.
So, how much water do you need to drink? Experts advise adult males to drink 13 glasses of water and females to drink 9 glasses of water, for optimal productivity, every day.
With adequate water consumption, you can potentially increase your productivity by 14 percent, ensuring that you can complete projects faster at work and at home.
No, not that kind of takeaway, don’t get excited! I think, given this information, we can all agree that eating better, eating healthier, and taking the time to make good food choices, really is essential to both your personal and professional lives. The ‘whys’ above are really just scraping the surface. The bottom line is that eating healthy is one of the best things you can do for your body. So if you’re currently living off fast food, microwave meals and takeout then consider making a few, simple changes to your diet.
Eating clean doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Grabbing a piece of fruit instead of a processed granola bar, drinking a glass of water instead of a glass of soda, or cooking up some chicken and vegetables instead of having a microwave meal are all quick and easy ways to eat clean. Making smart choices like these a daily habit will help you maintain healthy work-life boundaries and achieve the balance you’re looking for.
Having said all of the above, the most important thing to remember is that, eating clean, much like any lifestyle change, is all about progress – not perfection. Some weeks will be easier than others to make good decisions about what to put into your body. Take small, achievable steps and be patient with yourself and appreciate the journey.
e-PA is your work-life balance partner. We don’t just actively promote work-life balance… WE LIVE IT! Get in touch to find out how our industry-leading multi-channel answering and business support services can help you achieve the harmony your business and life needs, today.
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