If you feel like you don’t have the energy to keep up with an increasingly fast-paced world, coupled with the confusion surrounding diet, food and eating, Nick Owen from What-Food London has set out some guidelines to help you make wiser decisions around your food choices for both work dynamism, focused living, and your overall mental and physical wellbeing.
“You can think of the body as a vehicle: protein, carbohydrate and fat (macronutrients) are the gasoline, and vitamins and minerals are the little spark plugs that make the engine function effectively. You find the vitamins and minerals: antioxidant vitamins such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E will be found in colourful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. Calcium for bones you will find in dairy, dark leafy greens and almonds to name a few sources. Iron to support haemoglobin production and red blood cells can come from red meat sources, spinach, and lentils and beans.” says Nick.
Unless you are advised to avoid any foods or food groups by a medical practitioner, you should try to have a balanced diet across all food groups to obtain these three macronutrients, as well as the variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre that our bodies require, suggests Nick. For example, if you were to split up your plate, it would be healthy if it consisted of the below components, he advises.
Most people will need between 15 - 35% of their diet to consist of this.
“Protein helps to repair absolutely everything. Our body is in a constant state of breakdown and repair and protein is fundamental in that. Our body uses protein to build and repair tissues, as well as make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is required for our bones, muscles, cartilage and skin – our hair and nails are mostly made of protein too! Insufficient protein will compromise these processes; a weaker physical structure and a compromised endocrine system will impact the production of hormones that regulate metabolism, reproduction, sleep, and mood for starters – as well as lacklustre hair and weak nails. You may also find your strength diminishes because you're not being able to maintain muscle mass,” says Nick.
Get your protein from:
Nuts and seeds
Most people will need between 45 - 65% of their diet to consist of this.
“Carbohydrates are your energy. They are the backbone of your body’s functioning and power you mentally and physically. Your brain and organs run on carbohydrate and need this energy to work properly. For all these things we expect our body to do naturally, such as beat our heart, carbohydrates are the fuel. Don't go down the fad of cutting out carbohydrate entirely because you will feel lacking in energy and may also compromise the internal workings of your body which you won't necessarily be aware of immediately. An active person will need more carbohydrate; it is carbohydrate that powers that sports match, gym routine or run. It then acts as the catalyst to the repair and recovery process afterwards,” says Nick.
Get your carbohydrate from:
Most people will need between 20 - 35% of their diet to consist of this.
"Regardless of what the diet industry might tell you, everyone needs fat in their diet. We need it for brain power, to look after out organs, for our hormones, to support the function of fat-soluble vitamins (ADEK) in our body, to produce testosterone and to support the menstrual cycle. If you don't have enough fat in your diet, you may feel sluggish, your hormonal system may not be working properly, and you can't store or metabolise fat-soluble vitamins,” Nick Owen.
Get your fat from:
Nick’s DO’s and DON’T’s to take away:
DO eat natural foods and real foods wherever possible from across all the macronutrients - they will offer you a better quality of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Depending on our preference, you can obtain good quality nutrients from both animal-based and plant-based foods. "My preference is for a predominantly plant-based diet with a smaller percentage of good quality animal-based food, and always grass-fed when it comes to meat and dairy," says Nick.
DO Make time for food and make time for chewing. If you're chewing food, that's what stimulates your digestion enzymes that then enables you to get the best out of your food. Read more in Eat Mindfully in which Workspace explores the “intuitive eating” movement.
DON’T reach for the high in sugar, a processed snack that is 'sold' to you with its promise of a quick energy boost because it can lead to an energy crash. The sugar will go into your bloodstream very quickly and then it will crash down an hour later. Instead, reach for some 'real' food: oatcakes, wholemeal bread with some filling and salad, or a vegetable wrap - all of which contain nutrients from across all the nutrient groups, as well as fibre to support your digestion and balance your blood sugar levels. "You will also be surprised just how much making time for a good quality nourishing breakfast and lunch will lessen your need to reach for the snack. For me, it pretty much removes the need with my energy feeling balanced throughout the day " says Nick.
For further reading, check out Positive Nutrition by Natasha Wallace, published by Workspace customer Lid Publishing at The Record Hall, for strategic eating ideas to upgrade your health and energy.
For more nutritional advice from Nick Owen head to page 57 of homeWORK magazine online, or if you would like to get in touch with What-Food London for a 1 to 1 nutritional consultation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07901 555 251.
Have you tried eating more intuitively and mindfully? Let us know by tweeting @WorkspaceGroup and share your experience.
Read our first piece, Wellbeing: Where do you stand?, in our three-part wellbeing series to find out how to kick-start a healthy lifestyle, and keep an eye out for our next instalment in our wellbeing series where we will look at the relationship between mindfulness and exercise, and its effect on productivity at work.