Probably the most commonly overlooked problem in the workplace is nutrition. In fact, if our public schools were to serve children what many of us eat every day, we’d be screaming, “cruel and unusual punishment!”
If your child showed symptoms of poor concentration, making mistakes out-of-the-ordinary for his/her intellect, and/or moodiness, s/he would surely be examined for some type of disorder. (And probably put on some kind of medication.)
But how often do you make mistakes and then ask yourself, “What was I thinking,” or, “How did that happen; I know better than that?” If you have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand, make frequent mistakes, or feel, (or have been accused of), being moody, it’s time to take a look at your diet.
I used to be one of those people who couldn’t stand the thought of breakfast. Nowadays, I can’t live without it. Why? Because the earlier I eat, the sooner I feel good. Not only does eating wake me up physically, but it gets me going emotionally and spiritually as well. You know how hard it is to maintain the proper attitude when you’re physically hurting? It’s really the same thing.
The biggest grievance I see in employee break rooms both in small businesses and corporations alike is the overabundance of products containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In addition to being blamed for the growing obesity problem in America, HFCS has been linked to diabetes, heart and liver problems, among other physical abnormalities, not so much because of the product itself, (that’s still up in the air), but because sugar, in all forms, robs the body of necessary nutrients that can be difficult to replace, especially if you’re unaware that there’s a problem. (Until it’s too late.) But I’m not going to debate the “side effects” of HFCS today – that’s another post! Let’s just look at the effects of sugar on the body and brain.
When you eat something containing a high amount of sugar, your body’s digestive system goes to work, producing glucose that gets deposited into your bloodstream. When your blood glucose level is increased rapidly, it stimulates your pancreas to secrete insulin in order to counteract and drop your blood sugar levels. When that happens, you start to feel lethargic, lose ability to concentrate, feel like you’re in a fog, and start craving something sweet again to “keep you going.” If you’re too busy to eat at that time, you’ll end up feeling depressed or be in a bad mood of some kind. It’s a vicious cycle, because not concentrating well causes poor performance which leads to mistakes which causes your boss to yell at you making your mood worse, craving more sugar, causing another spike – you get the drift.
Various studies over the past 30 years have shown that sugar overloading can even lead to job dissatisfaction, even in offices that are relatively stress-free. Think about that for a moment!
So what do you need to avoid? Just about everything processed and sweet – your moon pies, jams and jellies, soft drinks, and most of those “health bars” you believe are so good for you. Especially, don’t make a complete meal on them!!! My point is this: Anything can be okay in moderation; it’s overindulgence and addiction that interferes with your concentration, performance, and mood. A processed oat bar is fine for a snack (although not my first choice) if you know you’re going to be eating in an hour, but it’s not lunch. You need protein, carbs, and good fat at every meal. Personally, I still follow the Zone diet as much as possible – not exactly – just closely. I don’t believe in going overboard on anything. I just stay balanced, paying attention to how I feel after I eat, and adjust if necessary. I eat as many whole and raw foods as possible, (very possible during the summer months here in Kentucky), and keep my sugar intake to the old fashioned granulated kind – for my tea – thank you very much! (If I gain a couple of pounds – it’s the first to go. I just drink more water until I’m back down to my ideal weight – this trick works so quickly.)
I’ve also noticed that a light lunch works best also – perhaps because I’ve had a rather substantial breakfast – but I’m lighter and have more energy when I eat a salad with some leftover grilled chicken on it. Half a sandwich with some fruit works well also.
One of my favorite snacks for the afternoon “pick me up,” is fruit. It satisfies my craving for sugar if I have one, but it also quenches my thirst. If I have a strong sugar craving, I realize that that means I had too many carbs for lunch, so I’ll add a handful of nuts to my snack and within a half hour, I’m ready to go again.
Be Good to Yourself
Since your diet has such an impact on your level of physical energy, and through it your levels of mental and emotional energy, the more fastidious you are about what you put into your mouth, the better you will feel, the more productive you will be, and the more joyously you can live – and that is so worth the effort!
Until next time,
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This post was written by Debra Moorhead, Motivation, Education, Inspiration on August 6, 2008