Career 21 November 2016
Chances are, by the time the clock strikes 8 a.m., you’re wide awake, already mentally scrolling your to-do list for the day. Most entrepreneurs hit the ground (or ahem, old apartment floors) ready to rock whatever challenges or opportunities come our way. Even so, those daily motivational quotes, 10 minutes of meditation and workout classes only do so much to keep us focused, grounded and feeling our most functional. Though you might turn to your fifth cup of ‘Joe to push through your afternoon slump, nutritionists recommend something a bit more productivity-boosting. More than we likely give it credit, our diet can be the key to a post-3 p.m. meeting that goes well and one that well, crashes, much like our blood sugar.
“Most foods we eat are converted into glucose in our body, which provides the energy our brains. That mid afternoon slump occurs when we start to run low on glucose, making it difficult to stay focused,”
registered dietitian, Alysha Coughler says. “Usually when we experience these symptoms we reach for a quick fix like a sugar-laden baked good, granola bar, fancy frap or soda. These foods do result in a rapid burst of energy, however, it causes a crash just as quickly. Foods high in fat also make matters tough as they slow down our digestive processes and absorption of nutrients, making us tired.”
Instead of turning to those convenient afternoon snacks, it’s worth the extra effort to turn to bites that will actually aid our body’s natural rhythms, functions and responses. Coughler says the easiest way to prevent your eyes from fluttering to stay awake is to make sure you’re nomming on something that has complex carbs and protein every 3 to 4 hours. “Packing healthy snacks that keep our blood sugars stable will help you stay alert and not lose your concentration with your stomach grumbling away,” she says.
The next time you’re trying to boost your energy (or the stamina of your employees), here’s what to have handy (and why!):
While they usually hold the starring role on your brunch menu, these high-protein babies are a good-for-you food for any meal or snack. In fact, as part of a healthy diet, eggs are almost always considered a must-have. “Eggs are an amazing source of choline that enhances memory and reaction time, as well as a balanced protein source to keep you satisfied any time of day,” Coughlen says. “Pair it with some multigrain cracker and carrot sticks and you’ll be satisfied for hours.”
This all-around superstar fruit isn’t just essential for keeping away the sniffles and coughing fits when the seasons change, oranges - and other citrus fruits like grapefruit, tangerines and more - are great for keeping your energy at it’s peak level. “These are nature’s antidepressants, helping calm those anxiety and stressors of the day. They also have the added bonus of boosting your mood and energy levels through their natural sugars,” Coughler says. “Pairing them with some Greek yogurt for protein to slow the release of carbs into your body for sustained energy.”
Turkey Tomato Avocado Rolls
If you’re feeling the hunger pains that aren’t quite as sharp for a meal or as light for a simple snack, try a protein and veggie mix that’ll satisfy your cravings in a healthy way. Executive chef and founder of Food Matters NYC, Tricia Williams, says a turkey, tomato and avocado roll is a great option: “Rolling a couple slices of avocado and tomato inside a slice of organic turkey is a great, low-glycemic way to get healthy fat and proteins,” she says. “This will help with your focus and concentration.”
You’ve likely heard of the surprising nutritional benefits of chocolate, but before you reach for a Snickers bar (or steal one from your kiddo’s post-Halloween bounty), remember the sticker of health approval is only stamped on a few brands. “Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and one piece a day does wonders for fighting off cravings and fatigue through small amounts of naturally occurring caffeine,” Coughler says. “Choose one that is a minimum of 70 percent cocoa. Pair it with a one tbsp of peanut butter or nut butter of choice for a bit more staying power so you don’t get hungry shortly after.”
If you struggle with finding a snack that actually lasts longer than a hot second and doesn’t have you reaching for a second (or third or fourth…) handful, consider focusing on a food choice that literally expands in your stomach. It’s not magic, it’s naturally-occurring chia seeds. “Chia pudding is a great way to feel full and satisfied as chia can hold up to 12 times their weight in water, not to mention their high Omega profile,” Williams explains. “Be sure to look for a chia that is sweetened with maple or Stevia though, not white sugar.”
Regardless if you struggle with digestion issues, a sensitive stomach or you just like the way it smells, mint is a practical choice after each meal. “Mint has a unique power to give you a perk while fighting off your stresses,” Coughlen explains. “It also has the bonus power of aiding digestion when your lunch doesn't sit well so you aren’t distracted by gurgling of digestive processes.”
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist