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Eat smarter = work better

by Maria Onyango August 30, 2011

​We're all about learning what's new and hearing fresh insights for business, innovation or productivity and are lucky enough to be joined by a range of business professionals, coaches and thought leaders for our regular Friday lunchtime seminars.

With many people hitting the avocados, spiralised vegetables and quinoa hype for a healthy lifestyle, we were also intrigued to find out more about how exactly they can help boost work productivity. We were joined by Dr John Briffa, a practicing doctor, author and speaker who is a leading authority on nutrition to hear about how eating smarter eating smarter could help you, in a nutshell (pun intended and took rather a long time to come up with, thank you), work better.

The seminar room was filled with carrot sticks and hummus in place of the usual sandwich accompaniment as we heard all the healthy benefits of good eating to avoid those workday slumps; here is one in particular to share.

Eat smarter, work Better: control your blood sugar!

Being able to control your blood sugar is important generally, but specifically for work, because it is like keeping enough petrol in your car. Not enough petrol in the car? It stops. Too much? Well actually, I don’t know, but I assume it can’t be good and if you’ve ever seen someone on a sugar rush (particularly visible in small children running around yelling), one would assume that it is much the same story with sugar.

There are some classic symptoms of low blood sugar: headaches, sweet cravings, nervousness, the inability to think clearly and ‘brain fog’ (technical term, there). In severe situations, depression has even been reported. None of these are conducive to a good day’s work.

So, how do we keep the blood sugar steady? In two ways:

1)  Eating regularly
2)  Eating ‘right’

Periods of starving the body of food (i.e. that eight hours between your breakfast at 7am and finally remembering to eat after two long meetings at 3pm) mean dips in blood sugar. Making sure that you eat regularly is the key to keeping your body supplied with a steady stream of ‘fuel’. Simples!

Eating ‘right’ is a bit more difficult, because to be quite frank, we love chocolate, but chocolate is bad for blood sugar. Like pretty much all foods made primarily from refined sugar (that’s anything that reminds you of the word ‘cake’), it creates a burst of energy very fast. However that burst disappears as quickly as it came, along with your energy boost, and leaves you feeling, well, quite saggy.

The solution - don’t rely on sugary foods to keep your energy up. They are false friends, as my French teacher used to say about certain transitive verbs. Dr Briffa suggests that the perfect snack is … (drumroll) … nuts!

I have never met a man whose belief is so entire, as Dr Briffa’s is about the power of nuts. While they’re high in calories, tests have shown that after eating nuts, the body’s metabolism is boosted by 10%. They are also an excellent source of protein (fuller for longer) and contain lots of essential fatty acids, which are mostly unsaturated or monounsaturated (that’s good). And they take a heck of a long time to digest. So, for energised, full workers, provide nuts!

I suggest giving it a try: eat regularly and replace sugary snacks with low gi alternatives (lists of these are available in copious amounts, online). See how you work!

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