Days in the office can be long with demands coming from every direction. It's no wonder that many of us find ourselves reaching for an energy source between meals to keep us going. Often our body’s urge for energy strikes in the form of a ‘sugar craving’.
Studies show that food can have a direct impact on our cognitive performance. Excessive sugar intake impairs memory and learning skills and there are emerging studies showing the link between high sugar intake with depression and anxiety. Excessive sugar intake also raises your cortisol and adrenalin levels – the stress hormones that send your body into high alert.
So when you feel that urge to fuel up, make the switch from processed sweets to healthy, natural snacks to sustain your mental agility and feel good. Here are some simple tips to help you transition to healthy snacks that nourish body and mind.
Accessibility is a huge factor in our consumption of sweet treats. How often have you thought to yourself, ‘well ok, I’ll have a piece of cake because it’s there in front of me on the table. It would be a shame to see it go to waste’. Why not talk to your Manager, HR Team or catering people to make processed food a little less visible and ensure healthy snacks, fruit and nuts are within arm’s reach at your office. Google did just this in their offices and were floored by the result. The world renowned top employer made small teaks in how snacks were available to employees which included moving donuts a few feet away from the coffee machine and placing candy in concealed containers. The proportion of total calories consumed from sugar decreased by 30 percent!
Prepare your healthy snacks for the week over the weekend. Make a batch of energy balls or buy a week’s supply of nuts and some dark chocolate. This way healthy snacks are always by your side when you need that 3 p.m. energy boost.
To borrow from management speak for a moment, ‘what gets measured, gets managed’. It’s true. If you want to cut down on sugar it helps to know how much you might by currently consuming. Processed food and drinks are high in sugar including many packaged foods that are marketed as healthy (i.e., low fat yoghurts, energy drinks and some brands of muesli bars). Read the labels! You will be surprised by just how much sugar is added to processed food. Avoid food with refined sugars in the ingredients and aim to keep your overall sugar intake within the 25g per day guideline recommend by the World Health Organisation (WHO)
We’ve all heard the old adage – ‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’. Breakfast is the meal the body uses to top up glucose levels after hours of fasting. If you skip or have a light breakfast watch how your body will crave sugar and carbs by mid-morning. Eat a full breakfast with protein, complex carbs and healthy fats (think avocado with protein or coconut oil/peanut butter in your green smoothie) and you might just make it to lunchtime.
If you’re on the hunt for an extreme sweet food, look for high quality options and chances are you will be more satisfied with less. If we look at chocolate for example, most of us know how easy it is to inhale a packet of Tim Tams but it’s a much different experience to mindfully indulge in a couple of pieces of dark organic chocolate.
Why you’ll love healthy snacking
Remember even if sugars in your healthy snacks come from natural sources this is not a get-out-of-jail-free card to overindulge. Aim to keep your intake within the WHO daily limit.
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