If you, like me, have been…shall we say “married to the cookies” this holiday season, then I’ve got a few thoughts that might help :).
We often don’t think about the role diet plays in our careers, but if you’re exhausted, frustrated and unhappy (with a pint of Mr. Ben & Jerry permanently stuck to your hand) and one of your new year’s goals is to find a job that you really enjoy, then it’s time to start taking your health seriously.
As a life-time bad eater (I looooooove nachos), I never really made the connection between cognitive performance (and that’s what were really talking about here) and food. When I finally got myself a little more together with the help of a nutritional therapist, I had way more energy, slept better, and was able to tackle complex problems with more clarity. I’m also happier doing what I love: helping folks find a career they love.
Ultimately, what I’ve learned is that you should always feed your brain first, and that your body will follow. This is INCREDIBLY important anytime you are pursuing a career transition or that next big promotion. You need your mind and your body to be in good shape!
So, as a tribute to your new year’s goals, Here are tips from loveliest nutritional therapist Samantha Gilbert :).
Here are three mistakes to avoid as you tackle your New Year’s Health and Work Resolutions:
1. You spend time focusing on low-fat foods at work, not realizing you need fat to stay focused and healthy as the high-performer that you are.
Not only does fat help your body better absorb the nutrients in your food, but it’s also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients necessary for brain health such as biotin in egg yolks, and the brain loving medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil. Keep in mind that the brain requires the right kind of fatty acids to orchestrate the assembly of its complex structure. It’s these fatty acids that help you sleep well at night, keep cravings at bay, and burn more fat. And of course perform better at work (and be willing to take some bigger career risks as well – you know who you are!).
Your action step: Include healthy fats such as organic extra virgin coconut oil and avocado in your diet (hello awesome lunch salad!), and steer clear of toxic vegetable oils (such as soybean, canola, corn, sunflower and safflower).
2. You think plant proteins will help you figure it all out and make you feel better (and smarter?).
The only raw materials from which we manufacture neurotransmitters (those things that keep us happy, focused, and stable) are those found in real, unprocessed foods, most notably, the amino acids found in animal protein. Plants are wonderfuland provide a wide range of nutrients, but they don’t contain the same form of amino acids you can only get from animal protein for optimum brain function. Also, zinc and vitamin B-6 are critical for neurotransmitter production, and are highest in red meat and chicken (we’ve got some links to studies that support this in the comments).
I know – this is a bold statement! And you may disagree with me, but if you aren’t adverse to eating animals on ethical or moral grounds, please consider giving this one a try and see how you feel and if you notice a difference. Optimum brain function is incredibly important when you want to brainstorm your passion or convince your boss you need that 25% raise.
Your action step: Include protein at every meal (you don’t need much) such as grass-fed beef and lamb, organic and pastured chicken and eggs, and wild salmon. Always choose quality over quantity.
3. You don’t eat real food regularly.
You know that slump that always hits you at 3pm making you run for the nearest Starbucks/the company cookie stash? Well, you could breeze through your day with ease if you just ate on a regular basis. This means that you don’t skip breakfast and when you do eat something, it doesn’t come from a box. You’ll also sleep better, and have more energy and focus to go after your dream job when you operate from a place of good blood sugar. Seriously – your career decision making process can depend on this. When you are tired from lack of the right food (or in a sugar coma), how likely are you to brush off your resume or schedule a major networking meeting?
Your action step: Eat a proteinaceous breakfast, lunch and dinner and if needed, snacks in between to keep blood sugar in check. Enjoy a variety of starchy and non-starchy veggies as your carb sources and include high quality snacks such as a hardboiled egg, or an apple with almond butter.
I want you to think of food as fuel. Fuel to start believing in yourself so you can get out of the rut you’re in and find the job you love. Seriously, the best careers are often built on a platform of good food and good sleep – please don’t shortchange yourself!
Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment and let me know what good changes to your diet you are planning for 2015. Remember, your career will thank you! 🙂