June is National Fresh Fruit & Vegetables Month, which means it’s a perfect time to make improvements to your diet.
During this month, you’ll have an easy time finding fresh, delicious produce in supermarkets, farmer’s markets, and maybe even your own backyard garden. And while you probably already know that eating more fruits and veggies will make you healthier, that’s not the only benefit you’ll notice. Eating a healthy diet will also make you more productive and give you more energy to excel at work, play with your kids, and connect with your loved ones. These tips will help you clean up your diet and become more productive along the way.
Swap refined carbs for fresh, whole foods.
Processed carbs, such as white bread, soda, and candy, might give you a quick burst of energy right after you eat them. However, the energy boost soon fades away, leaving you feeling groggy and irritable. Why? Your body processes the simple sugars in these foods quickly, which causes your blood sugar to rise and then drop sharply again.
To avoid this happening to you, cut sugary foods out of your diet wherever you can. Replace them with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These natural foods aren’t just more filling than highly processed foods – they’ll keep your brain going for longer, too. Here are some examples of simple swaps you can make:
- Make your lunchtime sandwich on whole-grain bread or a whole-wheat pita instead of white bread.
- Trade your afternoon candy for a carton of fresh, ripe blueberries.
- Instead of soda, drink filtered water or seltzer infused with strawberries.
- Cook brown rice for dinner instead of white rice.
- Swap your morning glass of orange juice for a more filling piece of fresh fruit.
There’s a reason breakfast is referred to as the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast kick-starts your brain, while an unhealthy one can leave you feeling foggy at ten in the morning. According to the University of Illinois, an ideal breakfast should include carbs, fat, and protein. The carbs give you energy and help you focus, while the fat and protein help you stay satisfied until lunchtime. If you need ideas, give these breakfasts a try:
- Make an omelet with your favorite vegetables, like spinach and mushrooms, and a little cheese. Have a piece of whole-wheat toast on the side.
- In a hurry? Make a quick piece of peanut butter toast. Eat it with a banana or some berries.
- Cook up a bowl of satisfying oatmeal. Top it with honey, sliced almonds, and cut-up fruit.
Don’t wait until you get hungry to decide what to eat. According to the Harvard Business Review, people make better food choices when they’re not ravenous. Spend a couple of minutes every morning thinking about what you’ll have for lunch, dinner, and snacks. A little planning can save you a lot of time, brainpower, and calories in the long run.
Use a smaller plate.
Have you ever felt sluggish and slow after eating too much? Everyone overindulges sometimes, but if you do it regularly, you won’t be at your most productive. Instead of putting less food on a large plate, which can make you feel subconsciously deprived, try this simple trick: just put your food on a small plate instead. You’ll still feel satisfied, and you won’t get a case of afternoon brain fog from eating too much. MIT also recommends sticking to light, healthy foods, such as fruits, veggies, and lean protein, instead of heavy fried foods.
Don’t let yourself get too hungry.
In terms of brainpower and productivity, eating too little is just as bad as eating too much. When you under-eat, your brain doesn’t get the glucose it needs, which can make you feel light-headed, anxious, and irritable. Maintain your energy and focus by eating small, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Instead of eating a heavy pasta dish at lunch, go for a salad or a light sandwich with veggies on it. Skip the fries.
- Keep a healthy, nonperishable snack, such as a bag of almonds, in your car. That way, if your stomach starts growling when you’re stuck in traffic, you won’t be tempted to hit the drive-through.
- Bring carrot sticks and hummus to work for when the afternoon munchies hit.
June is the perfect time to clean up your diet by incorporating plenty of fresh, in-season produce. These easy tips will help you make the most of National Fresh Fruit & Vegetables Month!