Picture this: you’re in the zone, completely immersed in your writing endeavors. You feel you’re being your most creative and productive. And for a short time, you feel uplifted and energized. You know what it’s like, you simply want to push on and stay focused, so you skip meals or eat irregularly.
You may cut back on sleep, working late into the night. You spend hours sitting at your desk not moving or exercising much. You can’t be bothered right now. I get it. Not when everything feels effortless. When you love what you’re doing. When you don’t have to work so hard to come up with creative ideas. And after you’ve shut out those annoying everyday distractions.
It’s all flowing perfectly. Or — or is it?
Sitting for long periods, skipping eating meals, and skimping on sleep are habits won’t help you. In fact, the cumulative effect of these practices will soon leave you feeling tired, drained, poorly nourished and reaching for bags of Oreos. Your routine may become impossible to sustain.
Perhaps it’s time to consider eating outside the box — and going on a diet! To get maximum fire power from your brain and body to create, you may want to follow what I call the “S” or “Support” diet.
Food for Sleep
Most people focus on the amount of sleep they get. But it may be equally important to care about when you fall asleep.
Between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., we get into deep sleep mode. This is when the human body works to rid itself of the harmful effects of stress, prevent tumor growth and strengthen our immune systems. The later we fall asleep, the less time our body has to repair and restore itself. Repair work of the body takes energy. If you’re not sleeping, you’re using that energy for something else other than repair work. Restoration is halted. So, if you want to produce your best work, give your brain and body a rest and time to restore.
Eat a diet including food rich in both prebiotic and probiotic foods as the bacteria in your gut can interfere with melatonin. Also, eating foods that are high in “sleep nutrients” is essential.
For example, potassium helps us stay asleep and can be found in bananas, coconut water and avocados. Magnesium is a relaxant, and helps us to fall asleep, but 80% of us are believed to be deficient in this multitasking mineral! Think about eating foods such as greens, nuts, seeds, dry beans, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
Also, pay attention to your last meal of the day. A balanced dinner should include an ample amount of protein, vegetables, healthy fats and a small amount of “slow, “low-complex” carbs such as sweet potatoes, wild rice or quinoa.
Sugar Balance Food
While eating a large amount of sugar is certainly something to avoid, simple carbohydrates are at the forefront of what you should be keeping an eye on when pairing your meals. These turn into sugar in the blood, and when eaten in abundance without pairing your meals properly, they can cause your blood sugar to spike quickly.
Pairing your complex carbohydrate food with proteins and other healthy items will help your body break those carbs down more slowlyslower, maintaining a balanced blood sugar for longer. Incorporate colorful veggies, greens, berries and melons, healthy fats and fiber into your diet. Doing so will help you to balance your blood sugar throughout the day.
When you’re too busy focusing on your creative work and don’t drink enough fluids, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration can impair mood and concentration and contribute to headaches, fatigue and dizziness. It can also reduce your physical endurance.
Water is needed for every cell and function in your body. So, keep your water bottle handy and filled. And be sure to sip throughout the day.
Also, many foods contain significant amounts of water (especially fruits and vegetables such as cabbage, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, celery, spinach, lettuce, apples, pears, oranges, grapes, carrots and pineapple). These foods are over 80% water, so they’re good sources of hydration and can a many make for good snacks.
Skip drinking sugary juices or sodas, which do nothing to improve your blood sugar. Get a water bottle with an infuser and add fresh fruits or vegetables to it. Lemon and cucumber are delightfully delicious ways to boost flavor and nutrition profile.
Stretch, Steps and Stand
Do you experience inertia when it comes to sitting for so long? Can you stand up and move about every 15-to-30-minutes when you’ve been sitting for too long at your computer? When you find yourself sitting for periods, can you challenge yourself to take only 5 minutes a day to do some form of movement? You can stretch with a couple of yoga poses, walk to your kitchen (where you grab a healthy snack) and back or simply stand up. Start with a small commitment and grow from there.
It’s important to change your physicality, and here’s why: it helps to get your creative juices flowing. Moving to new surroundings, being with nature or meditating can help you to come up with inventive ideas. Even moving from a sitting position to a standing one can help with creative thinking.
You know what happens when you’re engrossed in a project and can’t be bothered with eating, but you know you need some fuel to keep going. That’s when you reach for those Oreos.
Here are some snacks that are both nutritious and delicious (and weight-loss friendly):
Nuts contain both protein and fiber. Taking only a small amount may make you feel satisfied. And let’s not forget another good thing about nuts is the vitamins and minerals you can get from eating them.
Fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (not juice – with high fructose levels or sweetened dried fruit) contain a fair bit of water and fiber. They’re a source of many essential nutrients that are not always consumed enough through our dietary intake. And fresh fruit is low in calories, fat, and sodium. Fiber has a “satiety factor” and it helps to slow release of fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”
Chia is not only high in fiber (we’re talking HIGH in fiber), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium. The seeds absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, you can make a thick pudding that is delicious and fills you up. All you need to do is place 2 tablespoons of chia in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, or cinnamon and enjoy!
Eggs (boiled or poached) are packed with nutrition. They’re a natural source of vitamin E, and most of it is in the yolk. They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good number of other vitamins and minerals. Boil some and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack! For most healthy people, eggs have a neutral to favorable effect on the balance between good and bad cholesterol. However, be sure to consider the recommended daily limits on cholesterol in your food, (especially if you have diabetes).
Veggies contain fiber and water to help fill you up, with fewer calories. Most important, vegetables contain nutrients that are vital to the health and maintenance of your body. Common nutrients found in veggies include fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A and C. You can easily open a bag of baby carrots or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized). Use a bit of dip or place some almond butter on celery.
Savor Space & Substantial Downtime
We need time during the day to replenish our brain’s stores of attention and motivation. When you nap, take a siesta, go for a walk or meditate to unwind, you are encouraging productivity and creativity. Daytime breaks may help you generate your most innovative ideas. This is when epiphanies occur, or when you may come up with the answer to a perplexing problem you’re working on.
Sure, you may be in the middle of a creative storm and the thought of taking a food break leaves you itching to return to your computer. But if you take some waking rest in your kitchen, you may be surprised not only with some great food but when you return to your desk, you may have some new ideas ready to come out and play. You’ll be ready for them: percolating and the time you spent eating alone or with family may leave you feeling replenished.
By following the “S” diet, you’ll receive the nutritional support you need to stay the course of your writing or other creative endeavor in a healthy way and to tackle your project with a new vitality.
Check out my recipe below. You’ll find these 2-ingredient Almond Butter Stuffed Dates are the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth without adding processed sugar. Plus, they’re high in fiber and healthy fats. And, oh my goodness, do they taste delicious!
Recipe: Almond Butter Stuffed Dates
12 Medjool Dates (no sulfites)
12 tsp. Almond Butter (no added sugar or oil)
Optional Toppings: unsweetened shredded coconut, pomegranate seeds, chia seeds, hemp hearts, cinnamon and/or a pinch of sea salt
Create a vertical slit in the center of the date, remove pits if necessary. Spoon one teaspoon of the almond butter into the center of each date.
Add optional toppings like coconut or a dash of sea salt to suit your taste buds.
Enjoy these sweet high-fiber treats as they are, or you can freeze them to enjoy later. Just remember that 1 or 2 is a serving.
Any and all content of this blog post is for general educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please be advised that you are accountable and responsible for your own health and for making your own judgments, decisions, and for forming your own opinions concerning your health. Do not use the information in this blog post to diagnose or treat any illness, medical or health condition. Please consult with a qualified physician before engaging in any significant diet, fitness, or lifestyle change or making any changes with regard to supplements, herbs, vitamins or prescription drugs.
Barb Wickland, a Board-certified Holistic Health Coach and Creator of Belly Beautiful™ provides health and lifestyle coaching for postmenopausal women to Keep Weight Off and Live the Healthier, Simplified Life! You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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