Poor nutrition not only impacts our health but also affects our performances at work by negatively impacting concentration and energy levels, and cause irritability, frustration, and impatience. One study found that employees who participated in a wellness program that included nutritional programs resulted in a higher productivity – “approximately equal to an additional productive workday per month for the average worker.”
We are all well aware that we should have a balanced diet and take regular exercises, but it is only in theory. Most of us have at least eight-hour days, a short lunch break, a two-hour commute, and a home life to fit into 16 waking hours.
As the Harvard Business Review states in its article What You Eat Affect Your Productivity: “It’s not awareness we need, it’s an action plan that makes healthy eating easier to accomplish.”
How to practice a healthy eating at work?
- Educate yourself
The first and most important thing to do is learn about the nutritional value and impact of foods and drinks. We basically know what’s healthy and what’s not, but nutrition is more complex than that. There are also lots of myths about various foods, for example, sushi and granola bars both contain more sugar than many assume.
By educating yourself, you will be able to make simple and easy changes to your diet for healthier outcomes and better work performance. For example, eggs on toast makes a better breakfast than jam on toast by switching sugar for protein, zinc, iron, vitamin D and the brain-boosting chemical choline.
- Stay hydrated
Dehydration at work can lead to poor productivity, reduced cognitive abilities, slower reaction ties and even morale. As such, it is important to stay hydrated, but you should try to do so by drinking water and not sugary or caffeinated drinks as they can have adverse side-affects such as dehydration, hyper-glycaemia and sleep disruption.
After-work drinking (회식) can aid team building and boost moral but excessive alcohol can impact the following day by disrupting sleep and dehydrating you – and no one ever did their best work hungover!
- Smart lunching
Healthy lunching during a busy day is not only the most important thing to get right but can also be the most challenging.
An ideal lunch will contain the right balance of protein, sugars, fat, fiber, carbohydrates, and other nutrients.
One study found that the more fruits and vegetables people consumed (up to 7 portions), the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tended to be. This is because fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients that encourage the production of dopamine which plays a role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement. They also contain antioxidants that improve memory and enhance mood.
- Sensible snacking
While many people try to cut out snacking, grazing on the right things can help maintain energy levels throughout the day. Hunger can be a distraction at work and many of us fall prey to the vending machine with all its salty, sugary, fatty badness. But there are healthy ways to snack that will also boost your mood and productivity.
Healthy snacks include nuts and seeds, fruits, and vegetables. There are many multi-grains snack packages available at the marts. If hunger is a particular distraction, try some high-protein snacks: hard-boiled eggs, beef jerky (buy sugar-free varieties), Greek yogurt, cheese (non-processed), edamame.
As with many parts of this list, the key is preparation. Prepare a bag or box of snacks at home to avoid using vending machine.
- Mindful eating
Mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindful eating means being fully attentive to your food – as you buy, prepare, serve, and consume it. For example:
- Consider the health value of every item you add to your shopping list
- Don’t eat based on your hunger as you may be tempted to eat more than you need
- Start with small portions, wait, and eat more if you need to
- Appreciate your food
- Eat slowly by taking small bites and chewing chew thoroughly. Pause between mouthfuls
By practicing healthy eating habits and obtaining a good dieting routine, you will be on the path to thrive at your workplace and achieve not only high superior work performances but also overall health and well-being.