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The link between nutrition and employee performance

As the healthy food fanatic at MAXX, when I heard that the next Business Forum Event had the theme ‘Nutrition & employee performance’, I jumped at the chance to go.

After a delicious breakfast and an opportunity to network with other local businesses, we were treated to a fascinating talk about nutrition, delivered by Nutritionist Sarah Zorab.

So, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I learned:

Throughout the talk, Sarah highlighted the importance of a healthy diet when it comes to achieving optimum performance and productivity at work. She informed us that the food we eat affects us more than we realise. In fact, our food choices have a profound and immediate impact on employee productivity and even the general mood in the office.

However, she also revealed that employee-eating habits are often overlooked.

Perhaps, due to the nature of our fast-paced working lives, many of us find it difficult to fit in good, nutritious food throughout the day. Highly processed, convenience foods (like biscuits and crisps) are often our ‘go to’ snacks when we do find a rare small window of time to ‘shovel something down’ before moving on to the next task.

Sarah revealed that the sugar from cakes, biscuits and the like, enters our blood stream immediately, making us feel energised. However, as with most things, what goes up must come down. So once our blood sugar levels have inevitably dropped, we’re left feeling sluggish, seriously reducing our mental performance and even causing headaches. So whilst these sugar or salt laden foods might give us an immediate energy boost, unfortunately this is only temporary and they will only be slowing us down in the long run.

Our food choices directly impact so many things, including our cognitive performance - meaning that opting for the ‘wrong’ type of food at lunch on a working day could seriously hinder our productivity levels for an entire afternoon.

Foods like fresh fruit and veg, whole grain foods, nuts and seeds and oat cakes are just a few examples of energising brain-boosting foods that we should be opting for instead. These types of foods will enhance our energy levels and control our blood sugar levels, thus helping us to perform to our best ability - all day long! As these types of foods are so easily and widely available these days we really have no excuse not to tuck in!

Sarah also emphasised the importance of making a space where employees can eat properly and to avoid eating at their desks. Not only does this help to promote proper digestion, it enables us to fully enjoy our food, savoring each mouthful. We are lucky here at MAXX as we have a lovely outdoor seating area by the canal, where employees are able to enjoy their lunches watching the barges and ducks float by, as well as a “chill out” room for when the weather isn’t so fine.

Increasing numbers of organisations are beginning to recognise the fact that offering healthy food to employees will help to enhance the business overall. It can help to boost retention, improve productivity, enable problem-solving skills, enhance overall alertness and happiness in the office and support a positive company culture.

Encouraging employees to make healthy food choices can even result in the reduction of sick days. (It’s a no brainer really!).

It’s safe to say we’ll think twice before reaching for the biscuit tin in future! Although we aren’t planning to cancel “Cake Thursday” here at MAXX anytime soon – we may have a revolution on our hands!

Photo credits: @hollyshealthykitchen