Doesn’t work seem like it’s getting more stressful by the day?
Workloads are getting bigger, teams are shrinking, and sometimes it feels like we can’t get ahead. Anyone else?
Some of these circumstances are out of our control, so I started thinking of things that we can do to soften the blow. As I approach a milestone birthday, I’ve been thinking about my meal choices a lot more. I worry so much about the products I put on my face but hardly think about what I put in my body, so I reached out to one of our readers for some advice.
Gaby is a registered dietitian and the founder of Glow and Greens. I asked her to give us some tips about what we can do to reduce the stress and anxiety many of us are feeling at work lately. She said that one of the best ways to boost productivity is by supporting healthy cognitive and brain function through the foods we eat.
Here are seven foods Gaby recommends to help us manage those super stressful days and maximize our productivity.
1. Berries: Berries are great for many reasons, mostly because they are good for your skin. More importantly, they contain flavonoids. Studies have demonstrated that regular intake of flavonoids can improve your memory and attention span. Eating berries throughout the day can help you keep your productivity on track. Berries are superfoods you don’t want to neglect, especially on those days when you have a jampacked schedule.
2. Leafy Greens: This is one that many of us struggle with because veggies aren’t always the most fun or tasty foods to eat. Eating leafy greens is the equivalent of taking your multi-vitamins. Kale and spinach provide vitamin K, which is essential for maintaining a healthy brain. Studies show that as little as one serving of leafy greens per day can help slow cognitive decline. Think of it as anti-aging for your brain. So next time you start experiencing brain fog, add veggies to a smoothie or stir them into one of your favorite dishes. Your brain will thank you for it!
3. Avocado: Avocados are super popular and every millennial’s dream! They are creamy, flavorful, versatile, and great for productivity. Avocados contain a good-for-you kind of fat known as monounsaturated fatty acids known to protect astrocytes, a key player in supporting brain health. In other words, aguacates keep your brain safe and functioning properly, and they can make you feel fuller longer by controlling cravings so you can focus on your never-ending to-do list. Why people are blaming avocados for world problems is beyond me.
4. Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is an excellent choice when you have a full schedule. Not only does it have a high protein content, perfect for keeping you full until your next meal, but it also packs amino acids tyrosine. Tyrosine is considered anti-aging for the brain and is vital for the production of neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline, which help regulate moods. So next time you are in a high-pressure situation, greek yogurt to the rescue!
5. Nuts & Seeds: When you need to be on your A game, make sure to include nuts and seeds in your meal plan. Nuts and seeds contain plenty of brain-friendly B vitamins, which can help you retain information and keep your mind sharp. Additionally, sunflower seeds provide tryptophan, an amino acid that can easily convert into serotonin, the happy hormone. Nuts and Seeds are wonderful because they are versatile, and you can add them to just about anything. If you notice your focus waning or if you’re feeling down in the dumps at work, grab some almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds!
6. Beef: Beef gets a bad rap, but there’s room for balance in every single diet. Iron is an essential mineral for improving focus and supporting cognitive function. Beef is one of the easiest sources of heme iron to incorporate into your daily diet. When you experience low iron levels, it can take a toll on your energy, leaving you feeling fatigued and stressed—not good for productivity! I highly recommend adding beef to your meal plan, whether it’s for lunch or dinner 2-3 times per week and be ready to be focused and energized.
7. Coffee: But first, there is a reason that coffee memes hit close to home. Caffeine helps protect your cognitive health and mood regulation, so there is a lot of truth in those memes! Caffeine affects your mood and keeps your mind sharp. It also helps the body produce dopamine, an essential hormone in mood regulation and cognitive health. Specifically, caffeine helps your mind resist distractions and promotes the ability to plan. So, grab your latte, and don’t let anybody coffee shame you for it!
Gaby Vaca-Flores is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Latina, and Angeleno. She founded Glow+Greens to merge her passion for nutrition education with her mission to empower women to feel healthy of every size. Although her main expertise is in weight management, Gaby is also a skin-care enthusiast and enjoys teaching women about the relationship between their diet and skin. You can learn more about Gaby and her work on Instagram @Glowandgreens.