Our food choices play a powerful role in our cognitive health: our ability to think, learn, focus, and be our most productive, creative selves. That’s why Thrive and Accenture have partnered to create Nourish to Thrive. It’s a cognitive nutrition program that makes the connection between what we eat and every aspect of our well-being. Wherever we are in the world, working from home or in the office, we have the opportunity to improve our mental health, our relationships, our focus and our productivity by making small – even tiny – changes to what and when we eat and drink.
When we’re “always on” and powering through meetings or tasks, it can be tempting to skip taking time for a healthy meal or even a glass of water. We may think we’re being productive, but the science tells us otherwise. What we eat is deeply connected to our sleep, our emotions, how much we move, how we respond to stress and anxiety and our ability to focus, be productive and connect with others. And when we don’t nourish ourselves properly, all these aspects of our well-being suffer.
We all live busy lives and may not even notice how much our eating habits are impacting our ability to be our best selves. For example, if we’re sleep-deprived, we’re more likely to crave sugary foods and other refined carbs, which in turn deplete our energy and make it harder to get the sleep we need.
But when we can see the connection between our eating habits and our cognitive health, we can make better choices. For example, if you experience slumps throughout your workday, when your energy is low and it’s hard to focus, small changes to what you eat can make a big difference. And you probably know chronic inflammation is bad for the body. But you might not know it’s linked to mental health issues as well, including anxiety and depression — or that it’s not just what you eat, but how you cook your food that matters when it comes to lowering inflammation.
Nourish to Thrive delves into the fascinating science of cognitive nutrition, a growing body of science that explores the food-brain connection as one of the most powerful drivers of overall well-being. This program is led by a team of experts: Maya Adam, M.D., Director of Health Media Innovation at Stanford School of Medicine and author of Food, Love, Family; Tess Bredesen, Thrive’s Cognitive Nutrition Director; Uma Naidoo, M.D., Director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, faculty at Harvard Medical School, and author of Your Brain on Food; and Aaliya Yaqub, M.D., Thrive’s Chief Medical Officer. And we’re thrilled to roll out Nourish to Thrive to Accenture’s 699,000 employees around the world as we observe Mental Health Awareness Month.
This isn’t the first time Thrive and Accenture have partnered to make an impact on employee mental health. We’re expanding a partnership that includes our Thriving Mind program, built with Stanford Medicine — which 200,000 Accenture colleagues have taken to improve their mental health — and Thriving Together, a program we created together to help people boost their resilience and create cultures of belonging.
Nourish to Thrive builds on this foundation by spotlighting an often-overlooked ingredient of mental health: what we eat. At the core is an eight-video experience, exploring key cognitive nutrition topics, including:
- the link between food and burnout
- the gut-brain connection
- metabolic flexibility and foods that boost our energy
- hydration’s impact on our ability to focus and be productive
- the “sugar roller coaster ride” we experience throughout the day
- how small changes throughout the day can help us “stabilize the ride” and avoid cravings and slumps
Of course, eating isn’t just about health, convenience, or necessity. If we only thought about it in those terms, we’d miss a fundamental part of what food offers us: joy. That’s why Nourish to Thrive also emphasizes the importance of connecting with the joy of food. Food has always been a source of human connection and rekindling these connections is more important than ever. When we eat with others, it activates our parasympathetic nervous system, signaling the body to relax and even promote digestion. When you’re eating alone, you can try our one-minute eating meditation, which will help you practice mindful eating and savor your food in a way we rarely do when we’re busy, stressed, and tethered to our phones and screens.
Nourish to Thrive is ultimately about helping you take action. To help you build better eating habits, the course is filled with dozens of Microsteps — small, science-backed steps you can incorporate into your daily life right away. For example, did you know that adding an herb or spice to your meal can reduce inflammation and improve your mental health? That eating larger meals earlier in the day can help you get a better night’s sleep? Or that probiotics not only aid digestion, but help improve our memory? Our Microsteps connect this science to small actions you can take each day, with creative tips like food swaps and habit-stacking, so you can build habits that add up to something big. We’ve also compiled a recipe collection, filled with delicious dishes and drinks you can add to your repertoire.
And now, I’m delighted to share that Nourish to Thrive is available for all Thrive customers. You can watch a video about it here — and of course, if you want to bring Thrive to your company just get in touch with us here. Try it for yourself and reconnect with the joy of food, one Microstep at a time.
Update: This article has been updated to reflect the release of the Nourish to Thrive digital course now available to all customers on the Thrive platform.