The old adage “you are what you eat” applies to more than just your body’s health. What foods are inhibiting your work performance, and what changes can you make to bolster your personal and professional wellbeing?

The FDA has approved approximately 3,000 food additives, preservatives, and colorings; the average person ingests 150 pounds of these additives every year. Such artificial ingredients have been known to cause a series of health and mental complications ranging from diabetes to ADHD. This is not to say people can’t live fruitful lives with such conditions, but if you have yet to procure any of them, what can you do to keep them at bay while seeing your business’ health flourish?

If you are worried about how the food you eat is impacting your work life, ask yourself some key questions:

  • Does your brain feel foggy while at work?
  • Do you have trouble remembering, focusing, and concentrating? Perhaps you’re reading the same sentence over and over again to understand it?
  • Are you experiencing general body aches even if you haven’t exercised?
  • Do you feel unrested no matter how much sleep you get?
  • Is there a feeling of anxiety, overwhelm, and short-temperedness?

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s likely that your ability to concentrate, perform, and engage with others at work are in jeopardy. Below are some tips to analyze health and how to improve it, along with your work ethic.

Recognize the signs

You’ve noticed that you’ve been in a slump. It’s unfortunate for your health, but it’s good that you’re taking note! Keep a journal of the sluggish days where you don’t feel clear-headed. What did you eat that day that caused it? What did you consume the day before? Is there a time of day you feel most poorly affected? These entries will help you see the patterns of your performance and the steps needed to improve it.

Refuel your body

Food for thought! Now that you’ve identified the meals and snacks affecting your work life (those high in sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients), you can reverse these habits to emerge your best self. Below are some of the suggested foods that will nourish your life at work and holistically:

  • Organic produce (fruits and veggies are high in energy and natural sugars)
  • Grass-fed meat (cut the fat off of red meats and bake your chicken instead of sautéing)
  • Wild-caught fish (think salmon, or lean sushi with low-sodium soy sauce)
  • Whole-grain carbs (the occasional non-gluten pasta, and brown rice; avoid corn non-gluten products)
  • Drinks low in sugar (try sugarless iced tea, orange juice, or seltzer)
  • Water, water, water!

Refocus your habits

Altering or even slightly improving your diet is not a change that can happen overnight. Old habits do indeed die hard, so take the time to plan out your eating schedule. Some people have apps on their phones, others use diet diaries or team up with a coworker or spouse to get healthy together (and hold one another accountable).

Get plenty of sleep, drinks lots of water, and work out a few times per week. Track yourself: are you getting your recommended 10,000 steps in per day? Take a break from your desk and move around every hour. If you find yourself getting peckish, stock your office cabinet with healthy snack options that will last like almonds, dried fruit, or rice cakes — not cookies, muffins, or anything from the vending machine.

We mustn’t forget how the food we eat affects the business we do. Behind every firm handshake is a healthy diet and behind each typo caught in an email, newsletter, or business report is a well-rested and well-nourished mind. Dieting, changing our habits, and cooking new foods aren’t always easy — but remember the positive outcomes are incredibly enriching to your professional business and personal self. Challenge others to try new habits with you, and keep a diary of your findings to see how far you’ve come. You’ll see a difference — the proof is in the (organic) pudding.

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