We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and while I am all about starting your day off on the right foot, I believe fuelling your body beyond the crack of dawn is just as important. If you’ve fallen victim to that mid-day crash that leaves you reaching for a third cup of java, you may want to evaluate what’s going onto your plate at lunchtime. Here are 5 lunchtime favourites that are killing your productivity.
You would think that Omega 3 rich Tuna would be a great choice for boosting brain health, but thanks to industrial activities, like burning fossil fuels and waste incineration, this is no longer the case. Large fish such as tuna spend their lives soaking up neurotoxic mercury from our polluted oceans, which we then consume in our tasty tuna sandwiches. Remember the Mad Hatter character from “Alice In Wonderland”? Well, his nonsensical demeanor was based on an occupational hazard called “Mad Hatter’s Disease” and it is no fairy tale. The neurological damage caused by the prolonged exposure to mercury during the felting process of hat making, causes irritability, personality changes, brain-fog and excessive exhaustion, making people appear as though they’ve gone mad. To avoid mercury exposure, swap tuna out for better brain alternatives like wild salmon, anchovies or sardines like the ones I used in this Brain Boosting Nicoise Salad.
PRE-PACKAGED SALAD DRESSINGS
Nothing makes my nutritionist heart break quicker than the act of drenching a beautifully crafted salad with some sugary chemical sh*%storm sauce. Most pre-packaged salad dressings are filled with highly processed oils from GMO crops like canola or soybean and equally terrible high-fructose corn syrup, all linked to a decline in neurological function. A recent study found that rats fed a diet including high fructose corn syrup for a 6 week period, performed poorly in navigating through a maze compared to those fed a diet rich in brain-boosting DHA. Why? The insulin spike caused by HFC syrup not only disrupts blood sugar but also the brain’s ability to signal properly. And don’t even get me started on the funky stuff they add to preserve them. Better brain swap: make your own in a snap like my creamy Caesar dressing or simply a combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon.
Choosing a fruit juice may seem like a healthy choice, but most of them are simply health-washed bottles of syrup water. A whopping 52.2 grams of sugar gets dumped into your bloodstream after drinking a single bottle of the popular brand of “100%” cranberry juice. This causes your pancreas to overreact and create an excess of insulin. This excess insulin acts quickly, removing too much sugar from the blood leaving you crashing and hungry for more sugar. This process is called “reactive hypoglycemia” and it’s the ultimate way to kill your productivity. I’m not sure about you, but I’m typically not very productive when I’m napping. Ditch the juices and go with some good old H2O, herbal tea or jazz up your water with a fresh fruit infusion of lemon or berries.
These processed tubes of ‘meat’ are packed full of brain disrupting chemicals such as MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrites and once again; high-fructose corn syrup. MSG is an excitotoxin which tricks the brain into thinking you’ve consumed something super yummy so it get’s all excited and releases an excess of your feel good neurotransmitter, dopamine. This creates a quick drug-like rush that keeps you wanting more (hello, third helpings at the Chinese food buffet). But while you’re getting your fix of these addictive MSG filled foods, your brain cells become exhausted from all the excitement, and eventually die off. So to keep your brain cells alive and well, choose high-quality proteins such as cold-water fish, organic chicken & eggs, grass-fed beef, quinoa or lentils.
The majority of granola bars on the market are made with refined grains, high doses of sugar and minimal amounts of protein and fibre. This combination will take you on a blood sugar roller coaster full of spikes and dips, only to leave you crashing at the end. Now, they aren’t all evil and can be great in a pinch, just make sure to choose wisely. Look for a bar high in protein (10+grams), high in fibre (8+grams) and low in sugar (less than 8 grams-but not artificially sweetened). You could also swap them out for a homemade version, trail mix or sliced fruit with almond butter.
Time can get tight at lunchtime and we often end up reaching for convenience foods that will later derail our awesomeness. Fuelling your body wisely at lunchtime will help keep your productivity levels high to allow you to conquer those busy days ahead. It may take a little bit more planning, but now that you know, you can get out there and empower your plate!
In health & happy lunching,