You know the feeling of not being able to concentrate on the task at hand? Even when there’s nothing else really important to be thinking about, you just can’t seem to focus on any one thing for long. Usually mid-morning or sometimes in the afternoon, our productivity plummets. This is not only due to our natural inclination to sleep in the middle of the day, a privilege few people get to act on, but also because most our meals are less nourishing than we want to believe. Without proper nutrition, our brains start to decline drastically in their ability to function on daily tasks that require more thought than watching another season of our favorite show on Netflix. Fortunately, a quick fix for “brain fog” is to stock up on healthy, nutrient dense snacks for your work day. Here are a few snack ideas to get your started on thinking more clearly and boosting your productivity after lunch.
Nuts and Nut Butters
The benefits of raw nut and butters like peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter aren’t just limited to improving cognitive function. Raw nuts and seeds have a high fiber content and are protein rich, meaning they’ll keep you fuller for longer, give you protein without saturated fat, and they’ll keep things moving regularly in your digestive track. Peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and others are also high in omega fats. This is the “good” kind of fat that, unlike saturated animal fats, actively benefits your mind and body. Omega fats improve your brain function and promote your heart health. A handful of nuts, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds (watch the salt) will help clear your brain and keep your energy up until your next meal.
Homemade Energy Balls
Typically made with a base of dates and almonds, or another combination of dried fruits and nuts, homemade energy balls are a great and effective way to stay alert and stave off hunger without turning to energy drinks or snacks with artificial sweeteners and chemical additives. A search on Google or Pinterest will unearth hundreds of recipes with varying ingredient combinations to choose from. Here are my favorite. Flavorful and nutritious recipe additions include peanut butter, oats, walnuts, different dried fruits, raw cacao powder, and more. Date-based recipes will help with digestion, increase bone strength, and the high level of Vitamin B6 found in dates is known to increase brain function.
Renowned for their high levels of antioxidants, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about blueberries as a cancer preventative. Did you know that they also help clear away brain fog? Blueberries help you retain your memory and absorb new information better. The flavonoids found in these tart little berries has also been shown to slow the decline of cognitive function and keep diseases like Alzheimer’s at bay for longer. On top of that, they’re a sweet snack to help you battle those sugar cravings, and they’re low in calories and nearly free of fats. Add some to your breakfast or pack them in your lunch to munch on between meals. They’re delicious on their own, but you can also leave them raw and add them to a smoothie for similar health benefits.
Dark Chocolate for Dessert
Think that eating healthy means kicking all your favorite treats to the curb? Dark chocolate begs to differ. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that aid in cancer prevention, and stimulates your arteries to improve blood flow and heart health. Similarly, it also aids in blood flow to the brain which improves cognitive ability and focus. The trick to getting the benefits you want out of dark chocolate is to pick out high quality chocolate, and consume it in moderation. Organic chocolates and those with a high percentage of cocoa (70% – 90%) will prove the most beneficial to your health. Consuming the equivalent of one to two Hershey’s kisses of chocolate a day is plenty enough to get the benefits and avoid serious repercussions from the fat and sugar content in the chocolate.