Meal Planning for Improved Focus & Increased Productivity

Do you ever feel like you’re dragging yourself through the workday? Does your team lack focus and attention span? There are a number of factors in an employee’s experience of a workday—team relationships, love (or lack there of for the work), being under-challenged or overwhelmed… But one big factor that we don’t pay enough attention to is nutrition.

The energy we bring to our day can depend a lot on whether we’ve really fueled our bodies for the work ahead. If your body’s weighed down or undernourished, it struggles to actually operate. If you haven’t eaten enough (or your body thinks you haven’t eaten enough because what you’ve eaten didn’t supply much nourishment), all your body can focus on is where your next nutrient is coming from.

Energize Your Workday

If you’re looking to level up your focus and attention span, start with these simple steps:

Rethink your Mealtime Rhythms

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (It’s clichéd for a reason). This meal is literally is breaking your fast—you’ve slept all night and are now under-hydrated and under-fueled. Without breakfast, your body can’t produce the momentum it needs for the day.

In my family, we grew up with the phrase, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” I make sure I cook my family a fantastic breakfast each morning, because I know how much it sets the tone for the day. How much might your day change if you walked into work alert and ready to hit the ground running?

Afraid you’ll consume too many calories if you eat like a king at breakfast? Make up for it by eating a light dinner. It’s very difficult to sleep on a very full stomach anyway. Overindulging will make you sleepy, but you’ll be less comfortable overall. It’s tempting to have a giant meal at dinner time since this is often the only family meal due to work and school schedules. However, we can relish a family meal without going overboard.  Consider enjoying conversation over a light meal and then relaxing into some downtime instead. (Obviously this rhythm works best if you operating on a day shift. If you’re headed into your workday after dinner, make sure it’s the meal that will really fuel your work.)

a hearty breakfast starts a great day
Wholesome traditional German breakfast with assorted spicy sausages, salami and cold meat accompanied by slices of cheese served on a wooden chopping board

Eat a Better Breakfast.

Not all breakfasts are created equal. Given the numerous convenience breakfast foods on the market, it’s easy to grab a quick bar or frozen waffle, and still feel a little out of focus when we get into our day.

Beside the empty calories of many “quick & easy” breakfast items, we struggle with the nutritional value of food overall. If you traveled back to the 1950s and had one cup of spinach, you’d get 12 times as many nutrients that you’ll find in one cup of spinach today. This is a problem in the western world for many reasons, including soil depletion, poor stock rotation and the amount of time food is transported and stored before we eat it. People often tell me that they are eating fresh, whole food but still don’t feel the energy they expect, and that is often because their food has fewer nutrients than it once did.

If you are going to have a protein bar, check the labels and make sure it has no artificial colours, sweeteners and flavours. Do not start the day with chemicals. Try and add some fresh fruit and vegetables. I love mushrooms on toast, grilled tomatoes and baked beans. Breakfast does not need to take a lot of preparing, but planning sure does help the time factor.

I have 5 children to get out the house to school at the moment, and I make sure they all, and Allan and I eat breakfast. I cook every morning. Once you start adding a breakfast routine, it becomes easier and part of your day. Like everything in life, change is hard but can become a staple part of your life.

There are some excellent supplements out there, but they are supplements, not the main course. So enhance what you eat carefully, using high standard products with a ‘ no compromise’ philosophy.

You are worth it.

Author: Tamzin

Food activist and childhood nutrition advocate Tamzin Cochrane helps the busiest of people to cook up something healthy and delicious, even after a long day. She also helps companies and schools educate around—and create a culture and environment that truly supports healthy eating. Decades in the foodservice and hospitality industry have given Tamzin a well-rounded perspective on mealtime. She is passionate about bringing back the lost art of families and friends cooking together, and she loves seeing people enjoy the amazing tastes and textures of their communal effort. Inspiring children to cook and expand there horizons on food is very important. She shares this message through virtual coaching and video courses, by speaking at corporations, schools, and events, and through her recently-released video courses. Tamzin is found most often at The Pinny and Trowel Cooking School, which she opened in early 2020, it is located in Austin TX. Tamzin was born in England, grew up in Scotland, and now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband (who incidentally, is Scottish but grew up in England) and their children.

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