We have two responses – ‘fight & flight’ and ‘rest & digest’. You can be in one mode or the other – there is no middle ground. If we are stressed or running around, we are in fight and flight mode. During this phase adrenalin & cortisol are released which leads to blood sugar fluctuations (weight gain around abdominal area and longer term Diabetes type 2), and lowered immunity. Also during fight and flight mode the blood moves from the digestive organs to the periphery of the body in preparation for fight or flight. This can cause digestive complications e.g. reflux/indigestion or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) if we eat whilst in fight and flight mode. If you suffer from digestive problems, try to remain seated when eating and not rushing eating.
To maximise on energy & concentration throughout the day it is important to balance blood sugar levels. We all recognise when stressed our energy and concentration is heightened, but it soon follows with a dip! Caffeine (coffee, tea, coke, redbull), sweet foods, alcohol, stress all impact blood sugar balance in a negative way – following any of the above, adrenalin is released from the adrenal glands with cortisol. Cortisol removes protein from muscles and turns it into sugar. If we don’t burn off the sugar within a short period of time, the sugar is converted into fat (usually deposited around the abdominal area). Over the long term these continual high and low sugar fluctuation will lead to Diabetes (type 2) where the body struggles to reduce/balance the amount of sugar in the blood.
Eating every 3-4hrs is a great way to balance your sugar levels – if it is difficult to eat a meal, try regular snacking on; nuts, seeds, muesli bar, hummous & oat cakes/raw veg, fruit. Most of these can also be taken on business trips in luggage or in the car during long journeys to maintain concentration levels. Let’s also not forget breakfast – providing the brain with fuel first thing in the morning. A sensible cereal (porridge, muesli, granola) or eggs is better than commercial cereals which have a high sugar content. Sugary cereals may fill you for 1 hour but you will feel like eating something as a pick-me-up within a short period of time, usually 11am with coffee! A sensible breakfast will see you through to lunchtime.
It’s sometimes difficult to put into practise some of these simple ideas when you’re working, or is it? companies now have corporate wellness programmes that include canteen and restaurant menu choices. If you’re not fortunate to have these facilities onsite then speak to your manager about a workshop to educate and inform employees. Find out more about nutrition and other services at https://www.onsiteplus.com/office-health-wellbeing/ or take this link to learn more about employee wellbeing