Sometimes, no matter what you do, the day drags on.
You stare at the screen, willing yourself to be productive, but the spark just isn’t there.
Perhaps it is because you aren’t fueling your mind, and body, in the most effective way.
Eating brain foods can change the way you work.
Heightening attention, improving stamina and allowing you to think clearer.
“When you eat healthy foods you not only improve your physical health, but you will also help your mind,” says Cyndi O’Meara, nutritionist and author of the book Changing Habits.
She says when nourished, the mind has “energy, stays alert and gives you the very best that you need in order to climb your way to the top in your business”.
The key is to be organised and prepared.
Here are O’Meara’s go to foods which she trusts to help her stay focused and be more productive.
Morning prepared green smoothie: I make up a double batch of green smoothie in the morning and what I don't drink I can take to work with me in a thermos and have it for morning tea. The reason I don’t do the powdered instant protein smoothies is because many of them are laced with dubious ingredients that are not necessarily good for health. So I put a little extra effort in. Made from veges such as cucumber, spinach, parsley and celery, as well as fruits such as apple, mango and dates, add some coconut water and chia seeds - this is the ultimate breakfast drink.
Boiled eggs and sea salt: These are great snacks filled with protein and excellent for brain function and 98% of the protein is absorbed by the body. Make sure you have boiled eggs in the fridge so you can grab and go.
When berries are in season I always have them prepared in my fridge. Preparation means washed and placed in non leak containers so that they can be placed into my esky for a quick grab and go snack. I usually mix blueberries, raspberries, mulberries and strawberries. I don’t cut them, just take the stem off the strawberry and keep them whole.
Nuts, seed and dried fruit mixes: Once I get home from the market I always make up a nut, seed and dried fruit mix and put it in a glass jar in the pantry. Then in the morning, I’ll fill a snack size zip lock and place it in my pantry.
Fluids are very important to keep up at work. Water can be boring at times and too much coffee is not great. Each night I make up a large pot of herbal tea, take one cup from it, and then I allow it to cool and fill my glass bottle with the tea and place it in the fridge. In the morning it’s ready to go in the esky or brief case so that I can enjoy a refreshing, cold herbal tea as opposed to being swayed into drinking any sugary soft drinks. My favourite at the moment is T2 Liquorice Legs. A note of caution if you go to a tea shop; make sure you only buy the teas made from herbs and real foods avoid any with flavours.
Papaya with fresh lime juice is a great all time favourite snack at work during the summer. I’ll peel, seed and cut my papaya (and I only love the red ones) into pieces, squeeze lime juice over the fruit and then place in a leak proof container.
If you have a sweet tooth then fresh dates can take the edge off your sweet taste buds. Take approximately 4 dates in your esky to work so that when you have the hankering for something sweet, you can enjoy the nutrition and natural sweetness of a date. Sometimes I will fill my dates with something extra, think freshly shelled walnut or peanut butter or some beautiful goats cheese.
Dips are a wonderful snack to have at work. My favourite dips are hummus and babaganoush. Both are Middle Eastern dips with the main ingredients including, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt and chick peas for hummus and eggplant for babaganoush. You can buy these in grocery stores, but most are made with additives and flavours, so it’s important you read the ingredients or make them yourself. Along with these dips I’ll take zucchini, celery and cucumber sticks to eat with the dips. I place the vegetable sticks in a snack size zip lock bag.
Yes I said chocolate, but not any old chocolate. The sophisticated palate will only demand the best and good-quality chocolate has an ingredient in it that helps the activity of the brain. 100% chocolate is the best. They are called Cacao wafers; this chocolate is organic and pure and has a bitter taste to it. By having 4 wafers (they are not big) throughout the day they can help with brain function and contribute your antioxidant needs. If you are not quite ready for 100% dark chocolate then try the 90% ones on the market but make sure there is no soya lecithin in the ingredients. Your ingredients should consist of cacao, cacao liquor, cacao butter, sugar and any natural food addition such as chili, lime oil, orange, goji berries, coconut, cinnamon.
Fruit is a great snack for work, especially seasonal fruit. In the winter I usually carry apples, pears and oranges, while in the summer it becomes more exotic with peaches, nectarines, apricots and grapes. These are quick and easy to put into the brief case or esky that you take to work and snack on throughout the day.
Leftover meat and cold vegetables are one of my favourite things to take to work. I don’t even bother heating them up but rather make up a green leafy salad of cold meat and cold roast sweet potatoes with cherry tomatoes and cut up cucumbers and if I have some feta in the fridge I cut that into the salad as well. It’s quick and easy and doesn't take a lot of preparation in the morning!
Homemade or well made beef jerky without flavours, MSG, additives or preservatives is a wonderful snack to have at the office in your desk, so that when you need a spark of inspiration and are feeling a little peckish it’s there for you to nibble on. I first learnt the art of dried meat when I lived in the US and then did safari in South Africa. This is a valuable source of protein and nutrition, and is a far better snack to have in your desk as opposed to lollies or chips.
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