Fuel Your Body and Your Brain
That awkward space between lunch and dinner can be hell for those of us who work at home. Temptation rules and not everything in the kitchen is healthy.
You know the drill: your stomach grumbles, your mouth waters, and your mind wanders. All you want to do is get up, walk around and rummage through the fridge for your tastiest snack to take your mind off your writing.
Writing snacks are a favourite ritual for many writers – preparing your snack, taking it to your desk and feeling your body refuel and gear back up again – there’s a strange beauty in that.
And the process of standing and walking around, before we sit again, can be a healthy way to work. Resting the brain and moving the body. But beware: not all snack food is created equal.
Foods with high GI, high sugar content and no protein or other nutritional value are usual a great quick fix for your afternoon hunger pangs, or boredom snacking, but they’ll leave you more tired, hungry and dissatisfied than you were to begin with.
The better way to eat is to choose snacks that will nourish your body and your mind – and keep your hunger at bay. And look no further than this list of brain food for writers: tasty treats to boost your productivity, feed your body, and keep you swinging until way after the clock strikes 6.
1. Binge on Blackcurrants
Research shows that the level of vitamin C found in blackcurrants can help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as helping nerve cells in the eyes and brains function properly.
Although they can be tart by themselves, if cooked with a tiny bit of sugar they sweeten up nicely – spoon this mixture onto slices of apple and you have a snack that will keep your brain going until dinner and beyond.
2. Get Fishy
Essential fatty acids that are needed for healthy brain functioning cannot be produced by the body and must be absorbed through foods or as supplements. And they support your heart as we as your body’s general well being.
Oily fish, like trout, salmon, sardines, and kippers contain EFA’s in a ready-to-use form, which is the best way to consume these acids.
Snack on some smoked salmon with a dash of lemon juice. Or, for the budget option, sardines spread on water crackers – or straight from the can – are a great alternative.
3. Potato Potahto
Bananas used to be the go-to fruit for all your potassium needs, but it’s time the humble sweet potato shared some of that spotlight. With more potassium then a banana (which is needed for oxygen flow to the brain to support concentration and productivity), as well as a lower GI for a slower burning sugar boost, sweet potato is the way to go for your afternoon low.
Buy sweet potato crisps from health food shop, or bake your own, thinly sliced, in the oven with a sprinkle of salt and Cajun spice – it’s delicious.
4. Delightfully Dark
The antioxidants that your body gets through regularly consuming fruit and vegetables are an important part of your diet, as they improve your cognitive performance and ward off stress, to help you think and learn better – essential for all the writers out there.
But apart from eating a huge bowl of spinach and pomegranate salad for a light afternoon snack, how else can you get those antioxidants in when you need them?
The answer is chocolate – and the darker the better.
Cacao is packed full of the antioxidants that your body and brain needs. Buy the darkest block you can find, and enjoy in moderation. Or find cacao powder in a health food shop and mix it with boiling water for a warming winter treat.
5. Broccoli: Your Brain’s Best Friend
The humble broccoli gets a bad rap from children and fussy adults alike, but its levels of vitamin K are through the roof. Vitamin K has a whole host of health benefits, including enhancing cognitive functions, so you can refuel and sit down ready to write again.
Think broccoli’s a bit bland?
You’re probably used to having it steamed; and steaming is the worst way to cook this precious vegetable, not only because it makes it taste bland and watery, but because it sucks out most of the nutrients before they’ve been absorbed by your body.
Roast it instead. This removes fewer nutrients (although still some), and with the addition with garlic, olive oil, and chile flakes, packs quite the punch for the late afternoon boost.
Or just go for it raw — a great snack mixed with other raw vegetables.
6. Go Nuts
We finally got here – the snack to end all snacks. Nuts are a whole food, meaning they are a low GI, high-protein brain fuel that can keep you going all afternoon. The walnut in particular is fantastic as they are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, just like oily fish.
Omega-3 supports proper brain and nervous system function as well as preventing cognitive problems such as sleep disorders, learning disabilities and depression. And, of course, they are extremely filling and giving you a boost of energy that will have you typing till Christmas – or dinner, whichever comes first.
And is there an easier food to eat? Simply pour into your hand and much, one-by-one. But don’t overindulge, nuts are high in fat – good fat, but fat nonetheless and too much can add to your calorie count.
Best Brain Foods
Snacking while working is inevitable — and for writers it can give us much-needed breaks in the long periods of single-tasking. It breaks up your day, provides your body and brain with fuel, and keeps you working more productively.
But choosing the right snacks is essential to working successfully. Pick the wrong snack and the high sugar content and low nutritional value might send you to the roof for 15 minutes, only for you to crash soon after.
It’s easy to rely on snacks that you can just grab straight from the cupboard or the fridge, but getting creative can pay off too – investing time in choosing and preparing the best snacks will save you time in the end when you’re not back five minutes later searching for more brain fuel.
Choose the healthy option!
[Ed’s disclaimer — we are not health experts — just doing a research round-up for you!]