Eat to Keep Your Energy Up at Work

eating to keep your energy, nutritionWorking in healthcare means you can’t afford to let your blood sugar level drop

If you work in a medical setting, either providing direct care or in an office, you know it’s important to be on top of your game throughout the work day. You’re probably busy hour after hour, and on your feet for stretches. Patients and other staff members depend on you to listen carefully, get the details right, and follow through effectively. It’s hard to do that if you’re spacy, distracted, or irritable as a result of being hungry. (You may have heard the expression “hangry” : the particular kind of anger that can arise when you’re hungry!)

So if you want some shortcuts for staying energized during those long work hours, look no further! Follow these tips, and you’ll be taking care of yourself at the same time you’re taking care of patients and other responsibilities.

It all starts with breakfast

Hopefully you had a restful night of sleep, and now it’s time to fuel that body for the day of tasks you have ahead. You don’t want to distract your patients and coworkers with the sounds of your rumbling tummy.

What to have?

  • Try an egg-white omelet with veggies for a healthy boost of protein.
  • Get some protein with low-fat meat, such as turkey sausage.
  • Have a bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk (cow, soy, or almond).
  • Make yourself a piece of wheat toast with peanut (or almond) butter.
  • Enjoy a piece of fruit, especially one with vitamin C, like citrus. (Eating the whole fruit is better than just drinking juice, because it adds fiber.)

These suggestions, based on recommendations from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, will set the stage for a productive day.

Pay attention to when to eat

Lots of people who maintain a healthy weight already know about the snacking trick. You maintain portion control by eating a small portion of something healthy mid-morning. That way, by the time lunchtime comes around, you aren’t tempted to overeat (or make bad choices) to relieve the hunger that’s accumulated since breakfast. The same goes for a mid-afternoon snack to get you through those last couple of hours in your workday. A regular dose of healthy calories keeps that energy level where you need it.

It does take a little preparation before work—either in the morning or the night before. But since these are small amounts of food and not an entire meal, they tend to be easy to portion and store. And lots of them don’t even require refrigeration, so you can keep them in the drawer of your desk or in your bag at your work station.

What snacks to pack

Making smart choices is key here. If you choose a snack with too much sugar, you can have a sugar crash afterwards, and feel your energy dip even lower. So choose options that have nutrients and vitamins. Here are some ideas for healthy, energizing snacks:

  • Some baby carrots or cut up raw broccoli (with a little low-fat dressing for dipping).
  • A couple of whole-grain crackers with a piece of low-fat cheese.
  • A container of low-fat yogurt with fruit cut up into it or granola sprinkled on top.

These kinds of healthy foods will supply nutrients to power your brain and your muscles. So don’t skimp on the choices!

We hope these tips will help to support you in your busy and productive day, and keep you going with all you have to tackle. Try a week of eating for energy at work, and see if you notice a difference in how you feel.

The Harris School of Business is devoted to supporting our students to live healthy, well-rounded lives—at work, in school, and at home. Reach out to us for more information about our career training programs in a number of fields.