Healthy vs. Hangry
A healthy diet is perhaps the most important aspect of remaining focused and mentally alert.
A well-balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels up, avoid cravings for unhealthy snacks or foods that are not good for you, and provide a number of other benefits that all work together to improve your mood and productivity. I think we can all say that we have all been hangry at one time or another.
We’ve put together some snack ideas and recipes, so read on!
The Importance of a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is one of the best ways to stay focused and mentally alert. A well-balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels up, avoid cravings for unhealthy snacks or foods that are not good for you, and provide several other benefits that all work together to improve your mood and productivity.
Have you ever noticed that you could eat a whole bag of chips but still feel like you've wanted more? On the flip side, you can eat just one apple or have some juice (from a juicer and not that sugar laden stuff you buy from the store) and no longer feel hungry. That's because real nutrient rich foods actually take away our hunger. They give us things our bodies need which keeps us going without feeling hangry or sluggish.
There are a number of different breakfast ideas that you can try in order to stay focused and mentally alert throughout the day. One option is Overnight Oats – simply combine oats, milk, and your choice of toppings (berries, nuts, etc.) in a jar or container, and let sit overnight in the fridge. Another great option is Banana Pancakes – all you need to do is mash a banana, add an egg and cinnamon if desired, pour into a hot pan coated in cooking spray or butter, and cook until golden brown on both sides. You can also try One-Minute Muffins - simply combine all ingredients together in a mug (we recommend 1/4 cup of self-rising flour, 1/4 cup of applesauce, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of oil or melted butter, and 1/4 cup of milk), microwave for 60 seconds, and enjoy! (Recipes Below)
Now, not everyone is a breakfast person and that's okay. More and more research is coming out around the benefits of intermittent fasting. But that's an article for another day. If you're into breakfast, make sure it's a good one. There are so many different and easy options from smoothies, to oatmeal, or even easy eggs. Breakfast doesn't have to be complicated and can make a huge difference for some and the first half of their day.
There are also several great lunch ideas that you can try in order to stay focused and mentally alert throughout the day. One option is to pack a salad – simply combine your favorite greens with some grilled chicken or salmon, tomatoes, cucumbers, and any other desired toppings (try Avocado Dressing for a delicious and healthy dressing). Another great option is to make a sandwich – choose whole grain bread, add lean protein such as turkey or ham, and top with vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato slices, red onion slices, or avocado.
As we continue to become a healthier society, it is easy to see all the healthier options that exist. Whether we're in the grocery store or a restaurant there are normally great options available. Don't get me wrong, I love a good burger and fries but that is maybe once a week.
There are also a number of different snack ideas that you can try in order to stay focused and mentally alert throughout the day. One option is to make homemade popcorn (we recommend popping in coconut oil or olive oil for a healthier option). Another great option is to eat some fruit – our favorites are apples, grapes, and strawberries. You can also try some nuts or seeds – walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are all great options. And finally, another great snack option is yogurt – we recommend Greek yogurt as it is higher in protein than traditional yogurt.
Remember, you must do what works for you. You know when you're getting hangry. You know when you need a break and some fuel. For me it's normally around 4pm and it normally involves something sweet. So, for me it might be some trail mix, or almonds covered in dark chocolate (normally three bites), or almond butter protein balls (two of those and I'm set). Again, do what works for you. And remember, it's a snack not a meal.
In conclusion, a healthy diet is one of the best ways to stay focused and mentally alert throughout the day. A well-balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels up, avoid cravings for unhealthy snacks or foods that are not good for you, and provide a number of other benefits that all work together to improve you physically and mentally.
And let's be honest... Aren't you worth it?
Overnight Oats Recipe:
1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid (dairy milk, almond, cashew or coconut milk)
1/3 to 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 to 1/2 cup yogurt, optional
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1/2 banana, mashed, optional
Serving suggestions: fruit (fresh or dried), nuts, nut butter, seeds, protein powder, granola, coconut, spices, citrus zest and vanilla extract
Add the desired amounts of milk, oats, yogurt, chia seeds and banana to a jar or container and give them a good stir. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours.
In the morning, add additional liquid if you'd like. Once you achieve the desired consistency, top with fruit, nuts, nut butter, seeds, protein powder, granola, coconut, spices, zest or vanilla extract.
If you have dairy sensitivities, definitely lean towards the other milk options. My first choice is organic almond milk. Costco seems to have the best deal on this. The yogurt is a good source of protein but be cautious of the dairy. The chia seeds are an option but highly recommended. I think most people make one serving at a time but if you're making more, realize it can last for a few days. Play with ingredient amounts to find out what works best for you. Most people like it cold but as it gets cold outside you can warm it up before adding on your other toppings.
Avocado Ranch Dressing Recipe:
1 Ripe, Fresh California Avocado, peeled and seeded
1/2cup reduced-fat buttermilk
1 Tbsp. dry ranch dip mix
1/4cup cold water, or as needed
Yields 1 Cup
Puree avocado, buttermilk and ranch dip mix in a blender or food processor until smooth. For a thick, dip-like consistency use as is.
Blend in water as needed for a spoonable or pourable dressing.
You can substitute the butter milk for a nut milk but make sure its not sweetened. One large avocados is recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly. If you want to spice it up a bit you can also add your favorite hot sauce to your desired level of zippiness.
We could spend all day listing recipes but let's same some for next time. Just make one simple change daily and you'll be right where you want to be in no time.
About the author: Paul Feyereisen is the Chief Impact Officer of IM, a 40-something father and husband with a dad bod to boot. He is an amazing cook with a passion for cuisine from around the world. He loves to travel and living life to the fullest.