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How To Make Food Work for You: Planning & Eating for Optimal Work Performance

Whether dealing with the daily demands of your job or looking to make a big move up the ladder, you’ll be better equipped to meet any challenge that comes your way when you’re at your optimal health. That’s why we’ve partnered with SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU.—Putting Women’s Health Firstto provide tips and advice that will help you achieve health and balance in mind, body, and spirit. Because you’ll be at your bestin your personal life and your careerwhen you LOVE.YOU.

By Hailey Eisen

Did you know that improved work performance and well-being can begin in the kitchen? As a busy professional, it’s easy to make food an afterthought. A quick lunch from the food court, a coffee instead of a snack, or a skipped breakfast as you race out the door. But, according to In-Store Registered Dietitian at Loblaw Companies Ltd., Julia Pilliar, a little extra thought when it comes to shopping and food prep can go a long way toward improving productivity, energy, and overall success at work. The best part? It will contribute to your overall health, allowing you to be your best in mind, body, and spirit.

So where to begin? Pilliar provides six tips for success.

1. Make a plan. Planning isn’t just for work-related projects. An optimal nutrition plan will include three balanced meals plus snacks as needed. Eating well throughout the day means your energy will be stable and you’ll be in the best form to make impactful decisions. Healthy living begins with good food habits. For the best results, write (or type) out your weekly plan and use it to guide your grocery shopping. Need some help? Start by consulting a Loblaw in-store dietitian like Pilliar for informed meal planning, nutrition, label reading, and food shopping advice, free of charge.

2. Make breakfast a habit. The morning rush can leave very little time for a sit-down meal, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it altogether. There are many well-balanced breakfast options that can be prepared the night before and eaten on the run. Making breakfast a habit won’t only improve your morning—but will actually help you to feel better throughout the day. When prepping breakfast try to include the following: protein (Greek yogurt, eggs, etc.), slow-digesting carbohydrates and fibre (oats, whole grain toast, etc.), and multivitamins and minerals (fruits and veggies).

3. Don’t forget about lunch! While your mother may have said breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Pilliar says lunch is just as important. There’s nothing wrong with a working lunch as long as you take the time to actually eat. Want to avoid mid-afternoon cravings or that 3pm crash that halts productivity? Consider a lunch filled with complex-carbs and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, millet), protein (fish, chicken, eggs, beans), and vegetables (a salad, pre-cut veggies, etc.).

4. Rely on snacks. Snacks are needed if you have more than 4 or 5 hours between meals. Having prepared snacks like trail mix, fresh or dried fruit, whole grain crackers and hummus, etc. at your desk or in your bag between meetings, can help curb hunger pangs and keep your concentration and energy stable. Having a healthy relationship with snacks, knowing which foods will give you energy and which ones will zap your energy, is extremely valuable. For best results, Pillar suggests, before your reach for a snack ask yourself: why am I eating this? If you’re actually hungry, snack away! But if it’s thirst disguising itself as hunger, often a big glass of water or a cup of tea will do the trick. Hydration is essential to your overall wellbeing–so make sure your water bottle or cup is always full.

5. Use caffeine wisely. A little caffeine can boost concentration, but too much can be counterproductive leading to jitters and an inability to focus. To maintain a sense of wellbeing and balance throughout the day, swap multiple cups of coffee with lemon water or give yourself a physical boost of energy by taking a brisk walk around the block.

6. Make nutritious delicious. Finally, healthy eating doesn’t mean giving up food fun. Choosing the right quality ingredients and prepared foods doesn’t have to be difficult. Guiding Stars nutrition rating system, exclusive to Loblaw stores, on-shelf labels help identify foods that contain more of the good stuff (nutrient density, vitamins, minerals, whole grains, fibre, Omega 3 fats, etc.) and less of the unwanted stuff (added sodium, sugar, saturated and trans fats). To keep your meals and snacks delicious, experiment with seasonal ingredients and let new recipes inspire you.

What is SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. all about?

We truly believe that when you put your health first, you’re giving the people close to you the best gift of all—a better you.

SHOPPERS LOVE. YOU. – Putting Women’s Health First – is our commitment to helping you stay focused on being your best in body, mind and spirit. It shares the expertise of our partners and connects you with others in support of local, community-based Women’s Health initiatives across Canada. Find one that moves you and join our journey to strengthen Women’s Health across Canada!

If your charitable group has a program to help women in your community lead stronger and healthier lives, we may be able to help.


*This information is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about nutritional concerns.