Experiencing a slump in your productivity? Your diet may be the culprit. According to Kimberly Gomer (MS, RD, LDN), Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center, you are what you eat. And if you’re eating poorly, this can translate to poor output at work.
“When my clients ditch processed, salty, fatty and oily food, and start eating whole foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant and lean animal protein, dairy, etc.), they feel better in days!” said Gomer to Clean Eating. “When we combine good sleep, exercise and a healthy diet, and throw in some yoga or meditation, productivity soars.”
We sat down with Gomer to learn more about the foods and dietary habits that boost productivity:
How did you enter nutrition?
Kimberly Gomer: I decided to pursue Nutrition and Dietetics because I was so frustrated at my inability to lose weight and keep it off. I earned a Bachelors and Masters in Nutrition, hoping to get “the secret”. Instead, I learned that diets don’t work. I made it my life’s work and passion to help people get healthy through nutrition by changing their lifestyle. I want to help people avoid being abused by an industry that makes promises but has a 99% chance of failure.
What are some major dietary pillars for productivity?
KG: Plenty of quality sleep, daily movement through exercise and a delicious whole foods and plant-based eating plan. Evidence-based literature points to more consumption of whole foods increasing productivity. These include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and unrefined complex carbohydrates, preferably those that come from the garden. These foods achieve this by affecting people’s moods in becoming more content and more engaged with their work. In turn, this helps them become more innovative and creative. Plant foods provide the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and other vital nutrients that keep our energy levels consistent throughout the day.
What are some of your favorite foods to boost productivity?
- Greens, e.g. spinach, kale & collards: Greens are the bomb. They are anti-inflammatory and full of folic acid, potassium and fiber. These are energy-boosting nutrients that help keep us going consistently. This sustained drive and motivation equal increased productivity.
- Blueberries: Love these antioxidant powerhouses. Blueberries are considered brain food. They help us focus longer and more effectively, as well as improve both long and short-term memory.
- Oatmeal: Make sure to eat soluble fibers to lower cholesterol and keep you satisfied. Fiber-containing foods keep in our stomachs longer, giving us the ability to stay fuller and stave off hunger. When we are ravenous, it leads to reduced focus on our tasks and also affects our energy levels.
- Sweet potatoes: Bring in the beta carotenes! The nutrients in sweet potatoes help balance and optimize metabolic processes involved with vision and muscle movement. Both of these are generally necessary for optimal productivity. Plus, the potassium in these sweet, satisfying spuds keep our blood pressure at normal levels. This can help improve stress levels, keeping us more focused on what needs to get done.
- Salmon: This fish is rich in omega 3s, which we require for heart and brain health.
What are some foods to avoid when it comes to productivity?
- Salt: Sodium raises blood pressure. High blood pressure is systemically inflammatory. This can affect our bodies’ ability to function optimally and concentration can be altered as a result.
- Sugar: Sugar causes insulin spikes, causing people who are insulin resistant (100 million people in the US) to feel very sleepy.
- Processed white flour: Same as above, this food can spike insulin.
What does a full day of maximizing productivity look like for you?
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