This article will outline the 3 ways in which nutrition affects your performance as a leader as well as your teams’ performance in challenging times. It will outline three ways nutrition will improve performance and resilience.
- Nourishing your brain to improve your mental health
- Brain food to improve your memory
- Nutrition to reduce stress and balance your mood.
Nutrition is essential to work productivity. The ability to bounce back after tough work periods is a cumulative effect of past experiences, current lifestyle. The ability to be critically self-aware and gain perspective on difficult work and personal experiences.
What you eat and how you nourish your body, and your brain will impact your brain’s cognitive function. Simply put is your ability to think straight under pressure and your ability to stay resilient under stress.
How to sustain resilience through nutrition
Top sports professionals take great care in reaching optimum performance through their nutrition. However the sales professional or other professional services expert would think very little about grabbing a quick ‘go to’ snack whilst working. Eating what is easy, quick and gets you through an imminent deadline.
We’ve all had those late nights at work when a quick sugary snack or pizza gets us through those tough deadlines. A short-term hunger fix so that you can hit the deadline and reach the other side. The question is what happens when those deadlines keep coming?
The pandemic has taught us that being able to respond quickly to a changing set of circumstances is a way of life we are going to live with.
“The ability to modulate your sugar highs and lows depends on what you eat when you eat and how much.”Adele Stickland nutritionist and Resilience Trainer
Quick sugar snacks will satisfy the ‘need’ for comfort when working hard but will quickly make you hungry again. The sugar cycle kicks in, and your brain and body want more of this easy to digest food source.
The sugar cycle quickly becomes addictive.
Simply recognising that this is happening gives you the awareness to prevent yourself from reaching for the biscuit. Recognising that you need to step away from your desk to think more clearly will give you the ‘gap’ in thinking.
This gap will mean more conscious decision making and benefit your brain health, your mood, memory, and longer-term resilience.
1. Nourishing your brain will improve your mental health
Your mental health is affected by the food you eat and the nourishment you take on board every day.
Neuroscientists tell us that brain function and mental health are linked. When you are busy, stressed or distracted ‘your brain health’ isn’t the first thing you consider instead you reach for the fizzy drinks and biscuits. Your body and brain are looking for a quick comfort fix which a sugary doughnut will fix.
But if you compare your brain to another complex, high-performance machine like an expensive car. Then the penny drops, your brain, like your dream car requires premium fuel to function at its best.
Great nutrition means that the brain will function at the optimum performance which includes managing your emotions and moods.
Nourish the brain appropriately will quite simply promote healthy brain function.
Brain food that hinders your memory
Inflammatory foods such as high sugar food, refined carbs, processed and unhealthy fats will contribute to memory loss.
Sugary drinks not only add excessive weight but also have a negative effect on your brain. The primary component of sugary drinks is high fructose corn sugar (HFCS).
Research shows mean weight gain, sugar control, risk of metabolic disorders and memory impairments.
Opting for alternatives to sugary drinks is a healthier option.
Drinks at work
Water with fruit, or adding berries to your water that will naturally enhance the flavour and contain flavonoids that help improve memory.
Foods with a high glycaemic index (GI) have been found to impair brain function.
Eating low GI carbs will reduce these risks and include vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods.
Trans fats that are found in highly processed foods like manufactured biscuits and cakes have a detrimental effect on brain function.
Research shows that when consuming higher amounts of trans fats, there is an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, poorer memory, lower brain volume and cognitive decline.
2. Foods that Improve your Brain
Green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, collards and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients. Nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate and beta-carotene.
These foods will slow cognitive decline and protect your brain function whilst keeping you sharp
Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout and sardines, are full of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 are the major building block of the brain.
Nuts are also high in omega 3 fatty acids. They will improve your memory and your mood, as well as protecting your brain against decline.
The two main components of tea and coffee are caffeine and antioxidants. These will help your brain and in small amounts improve levels of concentration.
Dark chocolate contains brain-boosting compounds, such as flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants.
3. Nutrition to reduce stress and balance your mood
You can manage and reduce your stress levels when you are feeling tense with food. It is important to pay attention to what you are eating when you are feeling overwhelmed. Watching what you eat when you feel overwrought or sensitive will affect your reaction to co-workers around you.
When stressed you need certain nutrients more such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B, selenium, and magnesium. These nutrients will over time impact your brain and body’s neural circuits that control your emotions, motivation, and mood.
Strawberries, peppers, broccoli, and dark leafy greens such as kale and chard are great for adding more Vitamin C. They also contain Vitamin B which will help your mood when you are feeling irritated and stressed.
Selenium can be found in brazil nuts, fish, ham. As well as other meat sources. Vegetable sources include spinach, green peas, beans and potatoes
Dark chocolate and avocadoes are high in magnesium.
Exhaustion at work
What are the symptoms of poor nutrition in the workplace?
The symptoms of lack of optimum nutrition include:
- Lack of focus at work and affects the ability of people to learn and pick up new tasks/routines
- Psychological stress combined with low nutrition creates low energy levels and inability to adapt to stress over the longer term.
- Feeling tired, irritable because of stress which is compounded with sub optimal nutrition
- Managers are feeling pressured and not looking after themselves, this is affecting their job roles.
- Unable to function well and producing work that is not their normal standard
- Working sub optimally affects the quality of work being produced; mistakes are made.
- Sugary highs and lows create productivity issues and reduces resilience
- The strain of stressed and highly strung team members will affect the entire staff performance.
To feel more emotionally balanced and have great positive energy eat foods that give you energy. Foods that will fuel your body. High-quality foods that contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will nourish the brain. They will also improve memory and reduce the symptoms of stress.
In contrast, a diet high in processed foods will impair your brain function and worsen mental health symptoms.
To support organisations with these performance issues and boost productivity I have put together a training:
‘Nutritional Resilience Training – supporting Nutritional Health & Wellbeing.’
This Nutritional Resilience Training – is 1.5 hours for 15 key performers and has had some great organisational comments, including:
“We had some stellar feedback from the training yesterday. The companies approach to having an external host running this training is brilliant. It really makes a difference to learning”
It’s £750 inc VAT and will begin an effective process of managing your team’s nutritional resilience and increasing team performance. As well as decreasing stress in a way that creates top-performing, engaged and productive staff.
In order to book your spot or to discuss how it can work for your organisation just drop me an email. I’d be happy to discuss.
“Adele’s coaching session was very valuable and well-timed during COVID lockdown, working from home.”
Lee Jennings Pension Planning at Openworks
If your organisation is looking to incorporate a coaching programme or would like to investigate the opportunities that coaching can offer please email me to discuss your organisational requirements or book an appointment straight in my diary
#corporatewellbeing #resilientleadership #resiliencecoach
“Adele recently did some training on mental resilience for Saunderson House and it was slick and inciteful, whilst also being extremely helpful. I was particularly impressed that she took the time to follow up immediately on some feedback that I had given. And an invite to a personal discussion, which was also very useful. Not only does Adele clearly ‘know her stuff’ but she also cares and is very authentic. I would be very happy to recommend her services”
“Adele came in for an online coaching session at work. Little did I realise how the resilience training would come into its own over the following week or so. The training and how to manage situations has really helped me the last few weeks. I would recommend you go in with an open mind and see how the training can really benefit you”