12th-18th March is Nutrition & Hydration Week, a global movement that aims to reinforce, focus, energise and create activity and engagement for nutrition and hydration as a fundamental element to maintaining the health and well-being for our global community.
We asked our resident Personal Trainer and workplace wellness guru Chris Pinner to talk to us on the HBC Magazine about the important of nutrition and hydration in the workplace.
Chris explains why nutrition and hydration matter for your career and shares 8 super easy ideas on how to make them your secret weapon in the workplace.
What does your average working day look like?
How does your day break down? What do you eat and drink? When?
Think about it.
When do you have breakfast? Lunch? Do you fight ‘3pm dip’? Do you work late and need to order in? Do you prep your own meals or venture out the office?
Why does it matter?
What you eat and drink impacts your mood and performance.
Ever found yourself reading the same paragraph for the fourth time? Felt stressed after too much coffee? Been bloated and sleepy in a post-carbohydrate ‘3pm dip’?
On the flip side, get it right and the upside can be huge.
Evidence indicates a positive link between subjective wellbeing and job performance (Bryon et al, 2014), via improvements in:
- Cognitive abilities and processes (e.g., better thinking and creativity)
- Attitudes to work (e.g., more co-operative and collaborative)
- Physiology and general health (e.g., cardiovascular health and immunity, enabling speedier recovery from illness, and higher energy levels)
As an example, your diet impacts your cholesterol and blood pressure (British Heart Foundation). If you have healthy levels of both you are better placed to:
- Avoid sick days
- Cope with stress
- Sleep well
- Generally be in a better mood
And, happiness itself is proven to make you more productive (Sgroi, 2015).
What could your average working day look like?
You are unique. Everyone’s dietary needs are different.
Some workplaces may make it easier than others to eat and drink well – companies like healthy fast-food restaurant chain LEON, for example. Vida Scannell, Wellbeing & Engagement at LEON, says “our mission is to make it easier for everyone to eat well and live well, and that starts with our own people. We give everyone a meal on their shift and 60% discount at all other times”.
Wherever you work, here are some ideas on how to fuel your work tomorrow and beyond:
Skipping breakfast can leave energy levels low from the word ‘go’.
- DO – eat something (ideally low glycaemic load which releases energy slowly e.g. porridge or wholemeal toast)
- DON’T – grab bars on the go and assume they’re fine (many are loaded with sugar – always read the label)
Make the change:
- Idea 1 – Write down what you will have for breakfast Monday to Friday
- Idea 2 – Buy some bars as a back-up (e.g. KIND or Quest)
Convenience is king. So many of us would rather eat at the desk rather than ‘eat into’ the working day.
This often comes at the expense of a well balanved lunch. As Nutritonal Therapist Kristy Coleman explains: “if you don’t fuel yourself properly at lunch, with good quality protein, whole grains and healthy fats, you risk disrupting your blood sugar levels resulting that 3pm energy slump, cravings for sugar/caffeine/alcohol, poor concentration and ultimately, performance”.
- DO – include a protein in your lunch and eat it away from the desk
- DON’T – overload on carbohydrates if you want to avoid the 3pm dip
Make the change:
- Idea 1 – Commit to a colleague that you will eat lunch together away from the desk
- Idea 2 – Use your cupped hand to set carbohydrate portion size
- DO – plan what you will eat in the afternoon when your willpower is stronger
- DON’T – over-order because you can expense it(!)
Make the change:
- Idea 1 – set a cut-off time by which you must have ordered dinner if you find you’re stuck in the office
- Idea 2 – decide on your three favourite healthy evening meals and never deviate
Your brain and heart are composed of 73% water (H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, 1945). According to the EFSA, it contributes to physical and cognitive performance. Dehydration of just <2% body mass loss can lead to fatigue, altered mood, and impairment of several cognitive functions such as memory and attention (H4 Initiative citing Edmonds et al. 2013b; Neave et al. 2001; Pross et al. 2013).
Coffee can also have an impact on stress levels. Too much caffeine and your cortisol levels shoot you into ‘fight or flight’ mode (Walsh, 2017).
In adults, the EFSA considers 2.0L of water per day to be an adequate intake if you are moderately active.
- DO – drink 2L of water per day throughout the day
- DON’T – drink sugary fizzy drinks or too much coffee
Make the change:
- Idea 1 – put a water bottle on your desk
- Idea 2 – set a time after which you will not drink coffee or fizzy drinks
So how will you fuel your body for future success?
Why not try and implement a ‘do’ from our list? See what a difference it makes.
If you would like some support get in touch with the author – Chris Pinner using the contacts below.
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Before becoming a Personal Trainer, Chris worked at a top US investment bank, Strategy Consultancy and Sports Marketing agency. His experience taught him that physical and mental wellbeing sits at the heart of good performance. He founded Innerfit to improve workplace wellbeing and set out on a mission to transform how organisations approach wellbeing.