The World Health Organisation have concluded from research that:
“Adequate nourishment can raise productivity levels by 20%.”
Imagine the productivity improvements your business would see just by making sure employees (including you) are fuelling themselves in the right way.
Rarely do businesses give enough consideration to food, and why would they?
Well let’s start to think about food as ‘energy’ and now let’s think about ‘energy’ in a workforce. By energising your people the workforce should be happier & healthier, making better decisions and performing their best for the full working day.
Food has a direct impact on our energy and cognitive performance, which explains why a poor decision about lunch can impact the rest of the afternoon. So how can we prevent that afternoon slump and sharpen up our post prandial brain?
As we all know, a common lunch may include an overwhelming proportion of processed carbohydrates, starch, and sugars in the form of white bread sandwiches with processed meat fillings, cakes, biscuits, white pasta salads, sauces and fizzy drinks, followed by that after lunch caffeine pick-me-up.
Processed carbohydrates, starches, caffeine and sugars all contribute to poor blood sugar regulation, leading to the feelings of tiredness, irritability and resulting in possible poor decision making. Is that the situation you want you or your teams to be in when making business critical decisions?
When we eat or drink something that causes our blood sugar to rise sharply, our body can over compensate by excreting large amounts of insulin to reduce the amount of glucose in the blood stream.
Unfortunately, this mechanism can have an exaggerated effect resulting in blood sugar dropping. As the body then craves more sugar, this is often the time when people turn to energy-rich snacks in office vending machines.
Hence the cycle continues, and it can have a detrimental effect on cognitive performance and energy and puts a huge strain on the whole body.
So how can we prevent that afternoon slump and sharpen-up our post-prandial brain?
The answer may start by creating the right environment to support employees in making the right food choices and creating clean and relaxing surroundings in which to eat. And clean and relaxed surroundings do not mean eating lunch at your desk!
Tomorrow, look around your office and see how many people are eating the energy they need, sitting down, looking at the same screens they have all morning. If I told you that eating lunch at the desk can negatively affect the digestive process, would you look to change your behaviour?
A person may feel like they are relaxing but they could actually be inflicting stress on the body. Looking at social media, checking personal emails whilst munching on that supermarket sandwich might seem like a relaxing distraction, but in fact physiologically, the body can’t tell the difference between work and social media.
Many organisations are now cottoning on to the fact that what employees eat can have a direct impact on how they perform. Cultural change requires people to lead by example, and this is where you, as a leader steps in.
Promoting healthier eating and looking at ways to encourage your teams to break out of the old behaviours is key to a more productive and happier workforce.
So what can you do? Well, simple small changes can have a big impact. From encouraging people to take a break from their desk and go for a walk to actually paying attention to what foods are available for internal meetings and in the coffee corner vending machines.
From a nutritional point of view, I would suggest ensuring you have a source of lean protein with your lunch choice. For example, this could be chicken, turkey, hardboiled eggs or chickpeas. By basing your plate on a protein-rich salad with a rainbow of colourful, fresh ingredients, and ditching the white wrap or pasta, you will feel fuller for longer and most importantly keep blood sugars stable, therefore improving concentration.
Just a few ideas to help keep a workforce feeling energised, positive, productive and healthy, which in turn should help contribute to a robust and thriving business.
If this was implemented in your organisation, how much sharper would the team feel and how much better would the team perform? Small changes under the right leadership make a big difference.
If you need support with rethinking your own eating habits, please check out Gut Reaction’s personalised services here >