What you eat can severely hinder your levels of productivity – or significantly increase it. There are numerous foods, drinks, and combinations thereof that can easily give you an edge at work, providing a cognitive boost and a shot of energy to get you through the day.
It’s pretty simple really; just think about how certain foods make you feel. When you eat something at McDonald’s or Wendy’s you’re likely to feel sluggish and bloated afterward. Compare that to how you feel after eating, say, a salmon caesar salad.
For a good portion of people, it’s night and day. The only difference is, some people choose to forgo the short-term payoff and satisfaction that fast foods or sugars give us for the long-term benefits of healthy selections. That is, a salad may not be nearly as delicious or satisfying as a cheeseburger, but it will still get rid of those feelings of hunger. And you’ll feel better in an hour or so than you would after going for the quarter-pounder with cheese.
Take a quick glance around your workplace, and you’re likely to see people sipping on sodas, sugar-laden coffees, bowls of candy, etc. All of these things help us get through the day, but don’t do anyone any favors in terms of providing our bodies what they need to function. Simple decisions about what you put into your mouth can make a huge difference in this way, and give you an edge in terms of output.
But in terms of foods that you should absolutely avoid if you have a lot to do, or simply don’t want to feel sluggish and tired, we’ve compiled a short list for you.
You really don’t need anyone to tell you that you shouldn’t drink soda. It’s pretty awful for you in every way – seeing as it’s really nothing more than bubbles, water, food coloring, and sugar/corn syrup. There’s essentially no nutrients, no value, and nothing to gain. But it’s damn delicious. You can’t deny that.
Instead of sucking down sodas, or even coffee or tea plastered with cream and sugar, stick to water. You’re going to give yourself a sugar crash, which is going to seriously inhibit your ability to get things done. It’s also leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths per year.
Candy is, in a way, like soda in solid form. There’s a lot of calories, a lot of sugar, and almost no nutritional value, unless you count some salt and minerals. But like soda, eating a candy bar gives you a sugar rush, which your body responds to by releasing certain chemicals to your muscles and brain. At the end of the process, you’ll end up feeling a little gross. Like a mini-hangover. It’s a crash.
Do yourself a favor, and just eat some baby carrots, or go for a protein shake if you’re experiencing a sugar craving.
3. Fried foods
If you’ve ever declared a blitzkrieg on a basket of fries, mozzarella sticks, or any other fried delicacy, you’ve probably felt pretty disgusting afterward. And that’s why it’s key to avoid these types of snacks throughout the work day, as delicious and satisfying as they are. They’re calorie-rich, and yet don’t provide much in the way of nutritional value. Plus, if you eat too much of it, you’re almost guaranteed to clog up your arteries and slip further and further into a sedentary lifestyle.
On its own, cheese isn’t too bad. It has some proteins and calcium, which are a staple of a healthy diet. So, don’t be discouraged from having a string cheese, or a couple small pieces with lunch.
The issue is that cheese can cause digestion issues with some people. That can lead to gas, diarrhea, or a rumbling stomach, meaning that instead of working, you’re scouring the kitchen for Pepto Bismol. Plus, some cheeses are pretty smelly – obnoxiously so. Make wise decisions around cheese, and make sure you’re not going overboard.
5. Frozen foods
Not all frozen food is inherently bad. You can cook up some frozen fish, for example, (as long as it’s not at work!) and come out pretty well in terms of health. But it’s the overly processed stuff you want to avoid. Frozen corn dogs? Frozen fries? Skip them. They’re not good for you, offer little nutrition, and aren’t very good to begin with.
Yes, pizza rolls are hard to overlook, but you’ll be better off sticking to fresh foods, rather than something that’s been stuck in the back of a freezer for months.
6. Fast food
You’ve seen your coworkers hit up Wendy’s, scarf, and then slip into food comas for the remainder of the day. You don’t want to fall victim yourself, so avoid fast food. Yes, it’s cheap, delicious, and easily accessible, but you’ll do yourself a big favor by steering clear.
Fast food meals typically consist of a number of other elements we’ve already covered: fried foods, frozen foods (fries and hamburger patties are often frozen for delivery, for example), and sodas. It can be hard to say no, so pack yourself a lunch before you leave to avoid the siren call of the Golden Arches.
7. Nothing at all – skipping meals
Want to really kill your productivity and creativity? Skip meals. Don’t eat breakfast, or skip lunch – you’ll be feeling pretty lousy, guaranteed. Your body needs nutrition and sustenance. It needs vitamins, minerals, and calories for energy throughout the day. If you don’t eat breakfast, for example, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
In fact, skipping breakfast costs economies a lot of money every year in lost productivity. So make sure you’re getting something to eat in the morning. And no, not a Pop Tart.