Nutrition plays a big part in how productive we are in our working day. In this blog, Nutrition and Life* dietitian Sara Widdowson talks about the futility of the dieting cycle in maintaining a healthy body and outlook on life.
The dieting cycle goes a little like this.
You finish the weekend feeling like you have “over-indulged” and you decide that you will “be good” from Monday morning. You say no to snack foods in the office, even excluding yourself from your colleague’s birthday morning tea. Friday rolls around and you think, “It’s Friday, I have been so good this week that I deserve a treat”. You purchase your absolute favourite – chocolate. You start eating it in the car on the way home from work, and boy does it taste good! But you’ve been so deprived all week that you are shocked to learn you’ve eaten more than you thought. You feel ashamed, guilty, and think “bugger it” for the weekend. More feelings of shame, follow episodes of eating over the weekend, but the diet starts on Monday.
The diet cycle
Sometimes we also have to acknowledge that our psychological needs around food are worthy of being satisfied.
By categorising foods into good versus bad, we are not acknowledging that food has a bigger role to play than fuel for our bodies. After all, some so-called junk foods are also built into our culture and traditions (birthday cake, anyone?).
We teach people to notice how their body responds to foods. If someone is eating out of a place of self-respect, noticing how certain foods lift their energy levels, promote healthy digestion, and leave them feeling satisfied then they are sure to be eating a nutrient dense diet. For example, if chocolate, a slice of Mum’s cheesecake or a biscuit with your afternoon cuppa means that you are healthy in the whole sense of the word, then we say yes to that.
We encourage you to listen to your body when making habit changes, and to consider your health as more than just the number on the bathroom scales.
If you have been feeling sluggish or slow during your work day, focus on including protein and fibre containing foods in your lunch time meal to make sure you are providing your body with sustained energy throughout the afternoon. Meal regularity is also important when it comes to avoiding fatigue, so avoid missing breakfast or working through lunch. Excessive caffeine intake can leave you with an energy slump at 3pm, so instead focus on drinking plenty of water to stay well hydrated. Try to incorporate some movement and activity into your work day. You will be surprised how energised you feel after a 10-minute lunch time walk in the sun!
*Fit For Work works in partnership with Nutrition and Life to advise clients on healthy eating.