I’m sure you’ve heard many times that breakfast is the most important meal and it should be celebrated to make it a pleasant start to your day. Unfortunately, studies have shown that many people skip breakfast or don’t care about healthy eating and just eat whatever is at hand. I encourage you to stop and think about this issue.
Let’s see how a balanced diet—both at home and at work—can impact your efficiency throughout the day.
Breakfast should have around 30% of the recommended daily calorie intake, so with a diet of 2000 kcal daily, your breakfast should be 500–600 kcal [Gawęcki].
Your breakfast should consist of nutritious food. Grains are the main ingredient—preferably whole-grain products like cereal, bread, or groats. You should complement them with dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt) and protein sources (legumes, meat). It’s also very important to eat a large portion of vegetables, sprouts, seeds, and fruits (preferably seasonal since they are the healthiest choice and their growth is not artificially accelerated).
Unfortunately, eating the same ”top 5 healthiest foods in the world” every day will not make you healthy. It’s not that simple. You need to use various food products to prepare your meals, consider how well they go together, how your body absorbs their nutrients, and what your current nutritional needs are. Here’s a simple example: the nutritional needs of a blue-collar worker differ from those of an office employee.
Breakfast has a large impact on other meals you eat during a day. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat healthy breakfasts more often eat fruit and vegetables later in a day, and those who grab a sweet bun or chocolate bar instead opt to eat something unhealthy again that day. It’s hard to break this bad habit, and it impacts not only your efficiency at work, but also poses a health risk. You can read more on this subject here:
Regular nutritious breakfasts help maintain a healthy body weight. When you skip this meal, you will automatically make your next meals larger to compensate. The higher your calorie intake, the more difficult it is to stay fit. There is also another issue: by skipping physical effort, you become obese. It seems natural to me that if we have to put in the effort, it’s best to work on the foundation of our health: nutrition.
Brain activity and wellbeing
A robust and—most importantly—healthy and varied breakfast is the key to feeling well all day and being able to work efficiently. What you eat has a profound impact on your cognitive abilities and brain activity. We often forget about this fact or don’t even have the time to consider it. How well your brain works during the day depends on the type of “fuel” you give it. Processed food has little nutritional value and gets digested and expelled from the body quickly, so it’s not a good fuel. A well-composed, high-quality breakfast will help you work efficiently, remember things, make connections in your mind, and think creatively.
It seems obvious that a hungry person cannot concentrate on their work. Instead, they keep thinking of food, counting the time until their next break, or planning a short trip to the store to grab a snack. It’s hard to ask a person to come up with creative ideas and solutions when their brain is preoccupied with something else. And it should come as no surprise—staving off hunger is everyone’s basic need, much more important in the hierarchy of needs.
Click here to read more about Maslow’s hierarchy (pyramid) of needs and how satisfying those needs affects our work:
Let me add that a hungry person is also more edgy and anxious. It’s hard to work with someone in that state. So please, eat your breakfast! You will not only be doing yourself a favour, but also helping out your co-workers. It could make you get along better.
Healthy diet of RST employees at RST Meethub
Meethub is a meeting area in our office. Every day, healthy breakfasts are served there for all RST employees. This is both a benefit and an opportunity for our employees to start the day with a full and well-equipped stomach.
Years ago, when we began thinking about healthy breakfasts at Meethub, our employees were quite anxious at first. What’s that? What is it going to look like? Sprouts and seeds only? They are going to take all the tasty stuff away! And what does “HEALTHY” mean? I will starve! Obviously, these are extreme reactions, as there were also many people happy for the upcoming change.
Our ground rule, which was quite intuitive, was: do not force it. Healthy food or ingredients were simply available in addition to the well-known meals. And their number kept gradually increasing. Employees got used to them and they weren’t so scary anymore. Ultimately, the need to buy unhealthy products completely disappeared, and the tables were full of vegetables, fruits, legumes, sandwich spreads, groats, cereals, and healthy desserts.
The form of breakfasts was helpful as well, as the meals were receiving free promotion all the time. People meet at large tables, where they can talk, but also see what others are eating. And when the other person says “Yummy, this tastes so good!”, you think “Hmmm, maybe I should have some of that, too?”.
Themed days were also very helpful in introducing new tastes, such as the carrot day, beetroot day, vegan breakfast, foreign cuisine, e.g. from Ukraine or Lithuania, breakfasts good for your sight or heart, etc. They showed that each ingredient can be used in a variety of different ways, they taught people to be creative and to get inspired by the cuisine from different parts of the world. The general conclusion from those themed days is that it’s nice to try some new foods. What’s more, during each event, employees are provided with information about the nutritional value of the products, as well as on their positive influence on our health.
Every day, our employees have a fruit table at their disposal, where they can find fruits selected in accordance with the seasonal calendar, which is also followed in case of other meals. I took this practice from my personal diet, and now I can’t imagine a day without a healthy portion of fruit and vegetables.
Employees don’t have to think about such important issues as shopping or planning their meals, as we’re doing it together as the Meethub team.
Also, shopping lists and a weekly meal planner can be of great help here. Usually, it’s difficult to decide in advance on what you will want to eat during a given week, but you can come up with a draft version of your meal plan. In your free time, you can browse Pinterest and write down interesting ideas. This will make it easier to compile a weekly menu.
I think that paying attention to breakfasts will bring benefits not only at work, but also at home. Research clearly shows that eating fully nutritious and balanced breakfasts has a noticeable influence on the optimal nourishment of the body, reduces the risk of obesity and other diseases, and improves the efficiency and cognitive functions of the brains of both children and adults.
If you’re looking for recipes for healthy and tasty meals, check out my blog: http://wyjadalnia.pl/