Top chef eats for health

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

A cou­ple of years ago Na­dia Lim was not in a good space. She was work­ing un­til mid­night, skip­ping break­fast and drink­ing four cups of cof­fee a day.

‘‘I got into a place where I wasn’t prac­tis­ing what I was meant to be about.’’

The MasterChef NZ win­ner, cook­book writer and di­eti­cian said she liked to be hon­est with peo­ple about what she went through.

‘‘I’m meant to be this pic­ture of health.’’

While she was work­ing long, hard hours to get her business My Food Bag go­ing, her pro­duc­tiv­ity, mo­ti­va­tion, con­cen­tra­tion lev­els and cre­ativ­ity were suf­fer­ing.

Lim said she knew she was sup­posed to be a ‘‘guru’’, but she was not prac­tis­ing what she preached.

It was dif­fi­cult to mea­sure the ef­fect a healthy diet, good sleep and a bit of ex­er­cise had on work­place pro­duc­tiv­ity, but thanks to her own ex­pe­ri­ence she knows it makes a dif­fer­ence, she said.

Lim now has her work-life bal­ance back on track and is get­ting a good break­fast ev­ery day – usu­ally an av­o­cado and ba­nana smoothie or a piece of pre-baked break­fast loaf – but she is ‘‘in no way per­fect’’.

‘‘I’m not some kind of airy­fairy, tree-hug­ging ve­gan.’’

But Lim en­cour­aged work­ers, no mat­ter how busy, to fo­cus on a few sim­ple things to im­prove their health and well­be­ing and boost their pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Prepa­ra­tion is the key for busy par­ents jug­gling work and home life.

There is no ex­cuse for skip­ping break­fast, she said.

‘‘A stitch in time saves nine choco­late bis­cuits.’’

When the body did not get the right bal­ance of fi­bre, pro­tein, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, en­ergy lev­els dropped, cut­ting en­ergy lev­els in the work­place.

Work­ers be­come fa­tigued, de­pressed and strug­gle to be ac­tive, she said.

This fa­tigue of­ten trig­gered the vi­cious 3pm sugar cy­cle.

While sugar and caf­feine were OK in small doses, most peo­ple needed to cut down their phys­i­cal and men­tal de­pen­dence, she said.

Sugar is not the ‘‘evil white co­caine sub­stance’’ it has been cast as by some peo­ple.

How­ever, it does cause an ex­treme high fol­lowed by a crash, which of­ten prompts work­ers to reach for more.

En­ergy drinks were also not the so­lu­tion to the af­ter­noon slump, with about nine tea­spoons of sugar per serve.

Any more than one cof­fee a day is likely to have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on sleep, as does al­co­hol, Lim said.

Work­ers should not cut out sugar, caf­feine and al­co­hol al­to­gether, but if em­ploy­ees halved their in­take of th­ese sub­stances they would see a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in en­ergy lev­els and pro­duc­tiv­ity within two weeks.

No mat­ter how busy peo­ple are, they should not eat at their desk, Lim said.

It’s im­por­tant to take the time to en­joy the food and eat it slowly.

Each bite should be chewed about 20 times in or­der to stim­u­late stom­ach acid pro­duc­tion and tell the brain the body had con­sumed a proper meal.

It also gives work­ers a much­needed men­tal break.

She also ad­vised that a healthy diet should be paired with ex­er­cise, which has a pos­i­tive im­pact on both phys­i­cal and men­tal well­be­ing.

Lim’s business has im­ple­mented weekly morn­ing yoga ses­sions to help en­cour­age team bond­ing.

And lastly, reg­u­lar bowel move­ments were im­por­tant.

‘‘You can feel crap when you don’t do your num­ber twos.’’

Peo­ple suf­fered from an un­set­tled, un­com­fort­able feel­ing when they did not reg­u­larly go toi­let, she said.

How­ever, con­sum­ing a mix of sol­u­ble and in­sol­u­ble fi­bre and foods and liq­uids with high wa­ter con­tent would fix that prob­lem.

Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­ni­ties Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive Bev Cas­sidyMacken­zie said work­places that im­ple­mented health and well­be­ing pro­grammes saw a mea­sur­able drop in work­place in­juries, sick days and staff turnover.

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