Last week I had the pleasure of speaking about Food and Mood to a group at Pluralsight. It was such an amazing conversation, and one of my favorite topics as it was something that affected me (and most people I know). When I learned the correlation of what I ate, the quality of what I ate and my mood and performance, you could have knocked me over with a feather. I wish that I learned it much sooner in my life as it would have saved me a ton of pain and agony, and perhaps would have helped me find relief sooner. So I offer you this information to enlighten and in hopes it helps you.
Raise your hand if you know that food and mood are connected. And more importantly, the QUALITY of the food you choose drastically affects your mood, and helps you optimize your performance and your life.
How many times have you said “I’m hangry” or “I’m gonna eat my feelings”? The latter usually means you’re gonna eat the contents of your fridge as a result of a bad mood, which may only get worse after. What you eat contributes greatly to how we feel and go through life. Which includes your performance at work.
Processed food, white flour and sugar are like writing a bad check to your body. They’re more or less, devoid of nutrient density, meaning, zero value. You’ll be full after eating, but you’re doing your body a disservice, like a bad check, that has no value thus you’re charged high penalties. Your body needs to use energy to digest that food, but it can’t use much, if any, if there is zero nutritional value. You may not get why this matters and how it relates to your performance in life and at work. Stay with me.
Your body’s job is to keep you alive, bare minimum. A big job, IMO. Looking are feeling great are next. But that requires a diet high in vitamins, minerals, protein, good carbs and fat. Meaning, regardless of the type of diet you follow, the QUALITY of food you consume plays a crucial role in well being.
If you eat a steady diet of foods with zero nutrients, the body has no choice but to pull from bones and teeth, the Body’s Bank of Vitamins & Minerals. They save a lot of the vitamins and minerals needed to keep us alive, but what happens when those accounts run dry? The proverbial you know what hits the fan in the way of inflammation, hormone imbalance and thyroid issues for starters.
Your gut-brain connection is strong. In fact the gut, which is comprised of every organ involved in digesting and processing food, is often times referred to as the second brain. The communication between your gut and your brain takes place physically via the vagus nerve (or the parasympathetic nervous system which controls your rest and digest function and helps slow the heart rate) and chemically via neurotransmitters and hormones. When the gut is compromised by insufficient food and poor nutrient quality there is a massive amount of miscommunication that happens in the body, which results in feeling less than stellar, which will affect your performance in life and at work.
You may think, I’ll just take supplements and pills. Bandaids. Food quality impacts how you feel. When consuming a lot of low quality food, you may experience brain fog, bloating, apathy, general malaise, fatigue, depression and anxiety. The quality of life is compromised. You’re angry, moody, pissed off and unpleasant. Sounds like a great time! (Have I mentioned I speak fluent sarcasm?)
So, moral of the story:
- High quality food will directly relate to more optimized performance at work and in life
- Food and mood go hand in hand
- Eat high quality foods as close to original form (whole, organic-less from a box)
- High quality proteins, carbs, fats enhance mood. Look at avocados, or dark chocolate! Both are helpful for the adrenals, which assist the body’s stress response
- When consuming animal proteins:
- Beef – grass fed/grass finished
- Poultry & eggs -pasture raised
- Fish (wild caught).
- Every once in a while, have processed food and eat your feelings