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F – Why the food we eat matters for psychological wellbeing

The importance of diet for stress management and performance
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Let’s talk now about the food and drink aspect of our self-care acronym. Nutritionist will say that making healthy choices will boost our capacity to deal with stress and to enhance our resilience. But one of the forgotten factors is how we eat and drink during the working day. Recent research suggests that a significant number of workers who start work at nine o’clock in the morning will have had their first unhealthy snack of the day by about four minutes past ten, and over 50% will work through lunch. These fluctuations in blood sugar and hunger affect our mood, our concentration, and ultimately our performance. So what can we do about it?
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Well, we should think about foods to avoid and foods to increase in intake of. Foods to avoid are clearly processed foods. Foods with white flour in them particularly. Caffeine and alcohol. Foods to increase will be things like natural foods, particularly vegetables, that are of a variety colours. If we think about vegetables that are green, red, yellow, orange, and purple, we want to try and access as many of these different colours in a given day. Ideally, you may be getting two in, in any given meal. We also want to think about hydration.
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When we consider how much of our brain and body is water, we can realise that as soon as we start the process of dehydration, our body and brain has to work harder. This increases some of the stress hormones that affect our ability to cope with the challenges that we may face during the day. There is some evidence and interest in intermittent fasting. That’s not within the remit of this course, but there is some initial evidence that it can enhance our ability to deal with stress and well-being. So what should we do? Well we should try and eat consistently, we should only skip meals if we’re on a specific, validated fasting programme. We should try and keep hydrated.
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We should try and start the day with some food that will stabilise our blood sugar for the following hours. We should try and combine food colourings, particularly with vegetables, natural food colours, within the meals that we have during the day. We should be able to monitor and restrict our indulgences over time. And we should aim for consistency over perfection.

In this video Andy McCann outlines the importance of diet. Do you find it easy to east a balanced healthy diet while at, and away from, work?

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Workplace Wellbeing: Stress and Productivity at Work

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