By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

I remember watching one of the early food documentaries, Super Size Me, and the huge impact it had on my views surrounding fast food and health. While it’s easy to make the connection between eating french fries and being unhealthy, with the influx of documentaries, exposure to social movements, and food advertising we see these days, it can be hard to decipher what the best diet is for a productive workday.

Are carbs still bad? Is gluten-free just a cultural phase or a real thing? Below, I’ll break down a few things we know about the distinct correlation between what you eat and how productive, focused, and happy you are while you’re working.

Working as a career coach, I always want to give my clients the best advice, and there’s no better way to start a productive day than by evaluating what you’re physically putting into your body. Here are some of the easiest dietary changes you can make to see a more fluid workflow throughout your day.

Keep cutting the carbs. Yes, it is undeniable that we need carbs as part of our healthy diet, but they’ve been on almost everyone’s list of foods to avoid for the past ten or so years for a reason. Breads and sugary foods can cause the body to release an abundance of insulin, which floods the brain with serotonin and tryptophan, telling us it’s time for a nap. Just think back to all those Thanksgiving post-meal naps.
Don’t let your blood sugar ride on empty. If you’ve ever worked from home, you understand that it takes a great deal of self-control and willpower to stay on track and not succumb to temptation. It turns out our ability to hone on our workflow may be related to the glucose levels in our body. If your glucose, or “blood sugar”, levels take too much of a dip, it can lower your brain’s ability to processing complex activities.
Stop stress eating. Most of us are guilty of eating a more than we should when we’re stressed, especially if it’s in the middle of a bad day. Unfortunately, bad eating habits like hitting up the company vending machine multiple times a day can actually worsen your stress. Start tackling your stress in the long-term by properly fueling your body with vegetables, healthy fats, and a balanced diet. If you stress eat, tune into Samantha Skelly’s podcast, Hungry for Happiness, for some helpful advice on how to curb your habit.
Each body is different and everyone has their own dietary restrictions. However, if you’re feeling overly stressed or just don’t know where to begin when it comes to cleaning up your diet and pursuing a healthy lifestyle, these tips can serve as an excellent starting block. If you’re reading this right before your lunch break, start now! Step up your chef game, make a delicious salad, and finish the day strong.

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.