5 Tips for Designing a meal plan for Productivity
- Feb 19, 2021
Meal planning is typically thought of as a strategy to eat healthier, save time, and save money. These are all good reasons to meal plan, but another benefit that is often overlooked is how a meal plan can impact our productivity. We all know to consider how our diet affects our physical health, but we should also pay attention to how our diet affects our mental functioning. We’ve all experienced those times when we’ve been too busy to eat or become engrossed in our work and missed a meal (or two!), and then next thing we know, we are distracted, irritable, and lose our ability to focus and think critically.
Taking the time to adequately nourish our bodies throughout the workday can help improve our focus and productivity. Furthermore, there is a growing body of research that shows certain nutrients and diet patterns support long-term cognitive functioning. Here are five tips to help you design a meal plan that will increase your productivity and mental functioning both in the short term and the long term.
- Plan consistent meals throughout the day. Eating a meal or snack every 3-4 hours throughout the day helps to regulate blood sugars. This will prevent energy crashes which are prime opportunities for losing focus.
- Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats. Plant-based protein sources such as beans, lentils, and tofu are very low in saturated fat compared to meat and dairy which is important for neurological health. Studies have shown that diets lower in saturated and trans fats help prevent cognitive decline1.
- Add in some colour! Bright blueberries, red strawberries, and green kale are examples of foods rich in polyphenols and flavonoids – compounds that can improve mental functioning and keep you sharp as you age2.
- Include omega-3-rich foods such as ground flax seeds on your oats, chia seeds in your smoothie, and walnuts on your salad. These foods have been shown to stimulate improved brain functioning1.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day with water or tea. Research on hydration has shown that staying hydrated helps with critical thinking and overall mental functioning3. Remember, fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre and fluid too which can really help you reach your hydration needs.
Taking the time to plan out your meals is an investment that can help you work well each day and will also protect your brain health for the long term. The right meal plan, made from the right foods, will allow you to achieve your peak performance. If you ever need help understanding how to choose foods for your meal plan, you can consult a dietitian at Aroga for advice. And if saving time and effort is important to you, you can get shopping lists, cooking instructions, and year’s worth of meals all done for you with Aroga’s MealGenie 365 app. Either way, we hope you can design a meal plan for yourself that allows you to bring your best self to work every day and produce your best work.
- Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Gomez-Pinilla F. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9(7): 568-578.
- Food for thought: how nutrition impacts cognition and emotion. Spencer SJ, Korosi A, Laye S, Barbara SH, Barrientos RM. npj Science of Food. 2017;1(7).
- Impaired cognitive function and mental performance in mild dehydration. Wilson MG, Morley JE. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003;57:S24-S29.