As easy as it sounds, being mindful of what you are eating can be a daunting task. Nutrition doesn’t just impact your physical health but also your mental wellbeing, which in turn affects your work performance and quality of life.
Proper nutrition and work performance often go hand in hand with a clear impact on your productivity, clarity of thought, and ultimately, your efficiency. Studies have found that improper nutrition can reduce your efficiency by 20%. Not just that, those with unhealthy eating habits are at a 66% more risk of reduced productivity. All of these can lead to poor health, taking more leaves, low morale, diminishing focus, and much more – all negatively impacting the perception of your work performance.
Let’s see how you can improve both your nutrition and work performance.
What is the impact of poor nutrition on work performance?
Your body needs fuel to work, which comes from the nutrients supplied by the foods we eat. Proper nutrition and work performance work in tandem to help you work for longer periods, enhancing your productivity. Proper nutrition also positively affects your cognitive functions, making you more alert and focused at work. For instance, people tend to feel sleepy in the afternoon at work after having a heavy, unhealthy lunch.
A general rule of thumb is to eat till you are about 80% full for your meals to really do their job in providing you the right amount of energy. It keeps your metabolism active, stops you from overeating, and of course, keeps you from straight up dozing off at work. Not to mention, processed and other unhealthy food items lack essential nutrients. Consequently, these affect your cognitive functions negatively, making you unable to think properly, feeling irritable and fatigued, getting stressed out and reducing your overall energy levels. And you can only imagine how these all affect your work performance.
Moreover, bad eating habits cause chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and more, which is the last thing you would want. Not only do they impact your health and quality of life, but your work life also bears the brunt of it too.
How is a healthy diet and productivity linked?
Now that we have seen the cause-effect relationship between nutrition and work performance, let’s see how good eating habits and a healthy nutrition routine can enhance your performance. A healthy diet means consuming the right amount of essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals in the appropriate quantities.
A healthy diet reduces stress levels, enabling you to work better, improve your decision-making, and increase your focus. If you are someone who suffers from anxiety, depression, PTSD or any other mental illness, eating right goes a long way in managing your condition better. Food and mood are inseparable (you know being angry is a thing, right?) and the sooner you understand this connection, the easier will it be for you to work on healthy eating habits.
While eating right is a thing, you also need to be wary of your eating schedule. Skipping meals is an absolute no-no. Not only does it make you feel low on energy and easily distracted, but it also poses long-term risks to your health. Start off with a big, healthy breakfast to set the place for your day and limit your intake of fats, sugars and sodium.
So which are the foods that improve your productivity?
Knowing about the link between nutrition and work performance is not enough, it is essential to understand how to implement this.
Carbohydrates, both simple and complex, are necessary macronutrients. Lack of enough carbohydrates in the body results in a lack of concentration and low energy levels, which translates into low work productivity. Incorporate a diet that includes whole grains, brown rice, pasta, and cereals.
Fruits and vegetables should be a part of your regular diet as well. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables improve mood and increase your memory capacity. There is also a noticeable boost in dopamine which improves productivity. Let’s take a look at how certain fruits and vegetables impact your work performance:
- Spinach – Rich in iron, it improves oxygen supply to the tissues, increases energy levels and results in the ability to work harder.
- Broccoli – Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it improves your focus and sharpens your thinking abilities.
- Berries – Rich in antioxidants, they protect the brain against oxidative damage and degeneration thereby improving memory and concentration.
- Bananas – A rich source of carbohydrates and potassium, it provides high energy to work harder and improve productivity.
Proteins maintain the tissues and muscles in a robust condition. However, excess intake of protein must be avoided to prevent fat build-up. Your diet must include an adequate dose of good proteins such as:
- Nuts and seeds are rich in protein but low on fat which makes them even more beneficial for the body,
- Lentils provide adequate protein and fiber but do not contain trans fat and sodium, and
- Salmon fish contain omega-3 fatty acids to improve brain functions and increase energy levels.
Which are foods that decrease your productivity?
A negative relationship exists between improper nutrition and work performance. There are many kinds of food items that not only harm your general health but also decrease your work performance.
Sugary drinks such as soda and soft drinks should be avoided. These beverages increase your daily recommended sugar intake exponentially, making you feel weak and anxious, and harming your work performance.
Munching on chips, pretzels and other salty snacks throughout the day hurts your work performance, too. This is because consuming such salty food results in excessive sodium intake, which causes dehydration in your body and leads to lower work performance.
Foods such as fatty meat, burgers, fried items, butter, baked goods, and others rich in trans fat reduce work productivity. This is because trans fat causes the release of hormones tryptophan and serotonin, which make you sleepy. Moreover, the brain is also deprived of enough oxygen, making you sluggish.
The link between nutrition and work performance means there must be an optimum balance between the various elements in your diet. The food items beneficial for work performance must be included more in the diet while limiting the intake of food items that deplete your ability to work hard.
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