A Healthy Way to Work Improve health and performance at the office
Between the hours staring at a computer screen and the nearly constant temptation of treats in the breakroom, most offices are not known for fitness and health. However, work is where most Americans spend at least one-third of their days, and it’s a place where simple changes can make a big difference.
Hunger is an important factor in managing workday wellness, from maintaining focus to making smart snacking choices. A survey on workplace snacking, conducted by Focus Vision and supported by the American Pistachio Growers, found that 92 percent of workers report becoming distracted from their tasks at work due to hunger before lunch. Eighty percent said they get hungry in the mornings before lunch and think about food often or every day.
Watching your eating habits and being more aware of your body’s physical needs can help promote a better office lifestyle. Take steps to improve your workday wellbeing with these tips from Dr. Mike Roussell, nutrition expert and adviser to “Men’s Health” and “SELF” magazines:
Keep healthy snacks on-hand. Sugary snacks can send you on a roller coaster ride of energy and focus. The right kind of healthy snacks can satiate your appetite as well as improve your health and performance at work. For example, the survey on workplace snacking showed a midmorning snack of pistachios can help improve concentration, and the right kind of snack at the right time can help give you a competitive edge at work.
Find time for activity. Being physically active can help control stress, recharge your brain and promote overall wellness. Being at work doesn’t mean that you must be sedentary. Break up lunchtime with a short walk or jump on board with a growing trend and conduct walking meetings. Next time you have a brainstorming or check-in meeting, take it to the streets and hold your meeting while walking around.
Feed your brain. A healthy body doesn’t just mean strong muscles and maintaining a healthy heart, but also nurturing a healthy brain. It is important to fuel your brain with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. Research from Loma Linda University shows that eating pistachios stimulates brain waves associated with cognition, memory and learning. Lutein, an antioxidant found in pistachios, is also associated with improvements in executive brain function.
Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is not only important for athletic performance, but is also important for peak mental performance at work. Several research studies show that small levels of dehydration can decrease mental performance and negatively impact mood. To avoid becoming dehydrated, have a large glass of water with each meal or snack and at least one more glass between meals.
Take breaks to recharge. Engineers of one productivity app analyzed time logs from more than 5 million days of tracking to determine the behaviors of the most productive people. They found that when people worked for 52 minutes then took a 17-minute break they had the highest productivity levels. Setting periods of intense focus and then time off during your workday can help you be more productive and reduce stress.
Skip mindless eating. The office can be a nutritional landmine. Bowls full of candy and breakrooms with boxes of donuts make it all too easy to nibble without fully realizing all the calories you are accumulating. Taking a more proactive and conscious approach to snacking can help cut out unwanted extra calories while also curbing your appetite.
Explore more ideas for smart snacking at the office and at home at americanpistachios.org.
A Handful of Health Benefits
Increasingly, people with desk jobs are looking for healthier snack alternatives to typical choices like donuts and vending machine fare. A solution may be a simple handful away.
In a survey commissioned by the American Pistachio Growers, 1,000 American office workers who skipped breakfast consumed a snack of pistachios (about 1 1/2 servings) between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. The midmorning snack proved to be just what they needed to power through the morning. Ninety-two percent of the participants reported the pistachio snack helped eliminate hunger and improved their concentration.
Reinforcing their role in mental acuity, in a separate study, pistachios produced strong gamma waves, which are critical for enhancing cognitive processing, information retention, learning, perception and rapid eye movement during sleep.
“Pistachios are an ideal midmorning or midafternoon snack because of their unique nutrient package that not only promotes feelings of fullness and satiation, but newer studies show that it can promote an optimal mental state and more focus at work,” Roussell said. “Pistachios are a healthy snack that you can look forward to eating day in and day out.”
Indeed, an option like pistachios is a healthier choice than many go-to snacks. They do not contribute to weight gain or body fat changes and can significantly improve dietary nutrient intake. Survey participants increased their consumption of nutrients such as thiamin, vitamin B6, copper and potassium after snacking on pistachios for four weeks.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Business people walking and talking)