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How Your Workplace Nutrition Could Be Sabotaging Your Productivity

Posted February 27, 2018

Cate Palmer

Working in dentistry can be difficult, and especially when it comes to lunchtime. Common wisdom dictates that we shouldn’t be doing anything on an empty stomach. People take this to mean that as you eat something during the day, you are basically good to go. Unfortunately, that’s not how our bodies actually operate, and especially with workplace nutrition.

Obviously, ingesting food is necessary for our survival, but there is a big difference between simply tarrying along day-after-day, and using our time productively. In order for our bodies to perform efficiently, we need to consume the right kind food, in the right amount, and at the right time of day. And nowhere is this more important than during working hours.

Without proper workplace nutrition, our workday becomes a roller-coaster of mood swings, productivity dips, and attention slips. In order to keep thing on track, a conscious effort has to be made to change our dietary habits. But before starting to reinvent the way we eat at work, it would be useful to examine this ever-day practice in a bit more detail.

The Pitfalls Of Eating Improperly At Work


Let’s have the bad news first. Soft drinks and fast-food are both staples of a workplace diet, and they are probably the worst things you can eat if you want to stay focused and productive. Burgers, fries, topping-heavy pizzas, etc. have very few essential nutrients for daily functioning, while being loaded with saturated fats, sugar and salt. This makes them harder to digest, which in turn forces the body to devote more time and energy to food absorption, leaving us feeling groggy and unmotivated for work.

Skipping meals is another workplace concern. Our bodies run on energy supplied by blood in the form of glucose. When our blood-sugar level drops, our brain is not getting enough nutrients to work properly, so we tend to become unfocused. Needless to say, it is very hard to stay productive throughout the workday if we can’t keep our attention on the tasks at hand.

An improper diet can also disturb our circadian rhythms. These are the daily bodily cycles which determine the optimal time for eating, sleeping, being alert, etc. So if we have a habit of eating at inopportune moments during the day, our internal clocks will start to desync. This will eventually leave us feeling tired throughout the day, unable to do any serious work.

In addition to the aforementioned problems, a poor diet will inevitably lead to the development of numerous other health-related issues, reducing the overall quality of life. This should be reason enough to consider changing your dietary habits.

Staples Of A Great Workplace Nutrition

Now that we know what to avoid when it comes to workplace dietary habits, we can move on to suggestions on how to improve them. The best place to start is with adjusting essential nutrient intake. The body needs a balanced mix of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre, all adjusted for appropriate calorie intake.

Preparing a full meal with all the required nutrients is often impractical in a workplace environment, but it is still possible to get most of what your body needs with a little bit of creativity.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Let us begin with fruit. All fruit contains fructose, an easy-to-digest sugar which is a good source of carbohydrates. Eating fruit throughout the day is great means for maintaining a consistent energy level needed for work. Additionally, every type of fruit has its own unique nutritional benefits. Bananas are rich in magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6, apples contain anti-oxidants and so do many kinds of berries. Various nuts and seeds are rich in minerals and healthy fats; dried fruit provide a much needed source of fiber. You honestly can’t go wrong with fruit.
  • Next come veggies. From leafy greens to bulbous roots, and everything in between, vegetables are a staple of any healthy diet. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, all of which are essential for normal bodily functioning. Some of our favorite veggie snacks for work are carrots and avocado. They work best combined, as carrots are easier to digest with a bit of fat, which the avocados provide.
  • Finally, we have the trio of Greek yogurt, regular water, and dark chocolate. Greek yogurt soared in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. Yogurt is rich in probiotics, “friendly” gut bacteria which are essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. A protein shake with added yogurt is great way to start a workday fresh and full of energy. The health benefits of drinking water are well known, which is why it’s surprising that people tend to forgo drinking it throughout the day. As for dark chocolate, the taste alone is enough to lift your mood, and the extra dose of antioxidants doesn’t hurt either.

On The Road To A Healthier Workplace


Now that you know what to eat and what to avoid, its time to implement these ideas into practice. This is often easier said than done. But there are a number of ways to nudge people along towards adopting a healthier workplace diet.

  1. Practice planning your meals in advance, and encourage your coworkers to do the same. Deciding what to eat once you are already hungry often leads to making less than optimal food choices.
  2. Eat multiple times throughout the workday. Packing everything in single large meal might give you a momentary boost of energy, but after a while you are likely to “crash” as your body devotes more and more resources to digestion.
  3. Finally, ask your employer to provide healthier food options. It is in the best interest of every company to invest in the productivity of its employees. Offering a healthier alternative to what they usually eat at work is great means of doing this.

It’s not always easy to maintain a healthy diet when you’re busy at the dental office. However, taking small steps toward bettering your eating habits will certainly pay off in the end.

Check out 3 more ways, besides nutrition, that you can increase your productivity!

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