*I’m not a doctor. Nothing here is medical advice.*
Imagine you’re an airplane. (I’d go with a car analogy but that seemed too obvious.) Each time you land at an airport you need to fill up. The choice is yours: do you want clean gas that will keep you consistently in the air for the next flight? Or do you want to jam your intake full of green paint? Both fill the tank. But only one will keep you flying. What do you choose?
Let’s say you choose gas. Wise choice. Yet, all the while during the flight, you think about how good that green paint looked. How all your buddies chose green paint and seemed to enjoy it so much. At the next fuel-up, you decide to give it a try as well. And so you land and are given the option once more: gas or paint? This time, you choose paint. It goes down nice and easy, coating your tank with the color of grass.
But… oh no… As you make your way to the tarmac, something feels off. You’re sluggish, clunky, slower than normal. I don’t think that green paint is sitting very well. Bailing out at the last moment, you return to your terminal and decide to take this next flight off. You’re feeling overly tired and want a rest. After some time, you regain your strength and head back out.
The choice is yours once again
You eventually land at another airport. Here you expect the two options that you’ve been given in the past: gas or paint. But this time there’s a third option: water. Gas, paint, or water. Hmm… water… sounds interesting. I should probably stick with gas… but that water seems so… exotic. You choose water.
Feeling under the weather once again, you sit out on yet another flight. What is wrong with me? It’s simple. The fuel you are consuming isn’t agreeing with your system. If you had an engine that ran on green paint, paint would be the right option. If water was ideal, water would be the right choice. Yours runs on gas.
You would never know that though. Because like in real life, your engine didn’t come with an instruction manual. And so you’re stuck with the challenge of figuring out, from scratch, what fuel types make you feel good, bad, terrible, or amazing. Sure, you can ask your pals what works for them, but their engines are different. You must figure it out for yourself.
Corey the guinea pig
Over the last handful of months, my diet has changed considerably. And, if I didn’t take the following statement seriously before, I do now: the food you eat directly impacts your productivity. For instance, I’m writing this to you having just woken up from a nap. I had a massive lunch and couldn’t keep my eyes open, no matter how hard I tried. A siesta was needed.
Yesterday I fasted and felt great. I had high energy, was productive, and focused. Over the past weekend, I consumed more donuts than I feel comfortable publicly sharing (ten). I was irritable and cranky and just wanted the day to end already.
I’ve done the low-calorie model of food. I’ve followed a low-carb lifestyle. And I’ve stuck to a plan of unrefined, unprocessed, whole foods. I’ve done fasts of varying lengths and have consumed various quantities of water. I’ve optimized my diet for all the -biotics (prebiotics, probiotics, etc.). I’m no scientist, but I have run a fair share of nutritional experiments on myself.
I can’t speak to you and your body, but I can speak to mine. And over the decades of being a human, I’ve learned that some foods make me feel good while others don’t. Some foods are fine for me in moderate amounts while some should be avoided altogether. I don’t know why. I’m not a doctor. All I know is that if I have any hope of writing something on a given day, I need to be intentional about what I’m regularly consuming. And so do you.
But you know this already, right? I’m not saying anything new here. You’ve always known that the foods you consume have an impact on your productivity. Whether you’ve read it on the internet or have experienced it yourself, you knew what this article was going to say before you even clicked on it. So what were you hoping for? Answers.
You want answers. You want to know what foods will make you feel good and what will make you feel bad. Well, I’m not going to tell you. Because I can’t. What makes me feel groggy won’t necessarily leave you in the same state. What I can say, what is of actual value to you, is that it’s possible to figure out.
It’s on you to find out
The harsh truth is that you need to test things out yourself. I can tell you what makes me feel sluggish, but it’s not relevant. We’re all playing a slightly different game. However, though our mazes look different, there are strategies that you can be sure to utilize. Namely, experimentation and awareness. Let’s start with the latter.
Use this article to raise your awareness levels as to the foods you eat. When you next finish breakfast and start working, think of this article and ask yourself: how productive am I now? Do that after lunch, dinner, and any snacks. Answer it honestly and see if there are any correlations between the foods you choose to eat and the work you’re able to get done. There will be.
In the case of the former, try (responsibly) swapping out one food for another. Then ask yourself the questions above once more. Continue to experiment and test new things in your diet. Consume, observe, change as needed. It’s a time-consuming process, but so is life. Might as well make the most of it. So if you’re feeling tired after lunch, consider why that could be. Then, do something about it.