The transition from college to full-time employment often incentivizes several changes: a new mindset, new colleagues and new dietary habits. Nutritional intake, in particular, is tied to our productivity. Without the proper fuel, even a souped up Ferrari 812 Superfast can’t make it to the first checkpoint. So what does food as fuel look like? Nutrition experts offer the following advice for you and your gastrointestinal tract. After all, we take our tummies to work too.
- Know thy gut (and honor it)
Are you a 2 p.m. snacker? Do you need something sweet or salty around 4:30 p.m.? Be realistic about your cravings and honor them. Don’t pack the snack you want to want — or ignore your hunger altogether — pack the snack that satisfies you within reason. Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, the researchers behind intuitive eating, say that we have to focus on nurturing the body rather than dieting, which is the biology of starvation. Part of this is having a healthy attitude toward all types of foods and your body.
Tip: If some of the one trillion bacteria swimming in your stomach want a cupcake everyday around 3 p.m., anticipate the craving or find a middle ground. The gut microbiota exists in our digestive system, a Milky Way-like galaxy of organisms that not only break down food for us (and them) but crave it to begin with. Pack something sweet like yogurt-covered raisins or a chunk of dark chocolate. Both foods have helpful antioxidants and provide a natural blood sugar spike.
2. What nutrients make your motor run?
Good day or bad day, when you listen to your body’s cues, you can use the data to make helpful rather than harmful food choices. Did you know that some folks can monitor their mood by paying attention to the stomach? Foods that are protein-heavy like beef jerky or tuna can help you feel emotionally grounded. But everyone’s stomach is different. My body loves tomatoes even though I personally could live without them. Rice, even in small amounts, makes me feel sleepy and sluggish. What about you?
3. Hydrate. Need I say more?
A bit of a refresher on the importance of water: it improves our brain function and mood. Mandy Ferreira for Healthline writes, “It acts as a shock absorber and a lubricant in the body. It also helps flush out toxins, carry nutrients to cells, hydrate the body, and prevent constipation.” Don’t sleep on this one. Take a swig from your water bottle right now, Reader! I dare you.
Tip: New methods for reminding ourselves to drink water crop up everyday. From these best water tracker apps according to writers at Healthline to Etsy’s endless collection of track-as-you-go handmade water bottle goodies.
4. Don’t be that “perpetually hangry” person
If you’re working in an environment where you communicate and interact with others, definitely keep yourself nourished throughout the day. Even if it means having a little snack instead of a full meal, please plan for it. You are not as good at hiding your hangry as you think you are. What’s worse, you might not realize it until it’s too late. Follow Betty White’s lead and grab a Snickers (or a less sugary snack if your gut microbiota demand it.)
Written by: Gabrielle Wilkosz