How much control do you have over your mood?
Is it something you can change by simply changing your thoughts? Or by getting some exercise? Maybe if you lost a little of that extra weight you’ve been carrying around, you’d be in a better mood? Maybe so, but could you sustain it? The mood, I mean.
A few weeks ago, I was having a networking coffee (yes, more stimulant) with my professional colleague and friend, Linda Coveney. Linda and I belong to a consortium of talent development/organizational development specialists called the ReferHER Network. It’s one of the networking experiments that I’ve been conducting since writing my book and studying the art of business networking.
Linda recently retired from Legrand in North America, after more than a decade of service, most recently serving as the Director of Employee Development. Linda is a vital and energized professional who became curious about the connection between employee well being and productivity and health and nutrition.
In preparation for her transition from the corporate world, Linda earned her certification as a health coach and prepared the launch of her own company called Healthy-Behaviors. Linda’s role as a health coach focuses on supporting women and men who want to integrate healthy eating and lifestyle habits into their already busy, stressful lives. She also delivers workshops to support corporate wellness programs.
- Do yourself a favor, sign up for her newsletter at http://healthy-behaviors.com/
The Food-Mood Connection
I had noticed changes in Linda each time we saw each other for networking. It was obvious to me that she has lost some weight and she seemed happy about that fact. But I also noticed her new energy level and zest for life. Was this positive change merely a result of her recent weight-loss? Was she in the early euphoric stages of entrepreneurship? What was going on in her life that made her so positive, alive and productive?
Here’s what Linda shared with me. Her “secret” gives hope to the rest of us!
“Once I started learning about and adopting healthier eating habits, I expected to lose some weight…and I did. First step was to add more dark green leafy vegetables to my diet and then to move to a focus on eating whole foods vs. processed nutrient deficient foods.
The biggest surprise for me was how my mood changed once I started eating foods packed with vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and good carbs. And this mood shift didn’t happen after I lost 20 pounds, it happened quite early on in the process. Adding in good food helped to reduce my sugar consumption significantly and shifted my cravings to the foods that made me feel better.
No longer was my addiction to sugar and chips in charge. My body must have been relieved that it didn’t have to work so hard to attack the toxics I had been adding in throughout the day and evening. It was happy to get off the blood sugar roller coaster and slowed down enough to help me feel…more happy, more alive, more ready to tackle whatever came my way
It’s not like I was depressed or unable to function prior to this. It’s like a car operating on fewer cylinders. It still runs, but not at peak performance.
They say you are what you eat and I believe that to be true. When you are eating food that has a stronger relationship to a chemical lab than it does to nutrient rich soil, you start to feel a little fuzzy, a little tired and sluggish, less confident. While I made the transition to a healthier diet, I realized that not only had I been shutting off my internal system from achieving optimum performance, but also I had been shutting myself off from people and events. These are lost opportunities that you can’t get back.
Think of the opportunities that corporations have to inform and support healthier eating habits of their employees. The results could be significant in terms of increased productivity, higher engagement, greater collaboration and lower health care costs.
While I do want to help people who wish to lose weight, I’m really excited about the possibility of helping them achieve their full potential for a happy, healthy life that they love!”- Linda Coveney, Health Coach with Healthy-Behaviors
Putting you and your employees in a better mood
Before you invest in another team-building, morale boosting activity, consider changing the food that you serve yourself and your team. The chemical changes in their bodies as a result of better food intake may be just the productivity boost you need.
The war on talent may be easier won than you thought. Your enemy is not the competition, but could be the vending machines and in-office candy fundraising boxes that you have placed in your buildings for the convenience of your workforce. They are unhealthy behaviors waiting to happen. They are toxic to employee engagement, productivity and well being.
What can you do instead to support yourself and your workforce? Here are some great suggestions from the Wellness Diva, Dr. Nance MacLeod-Lutchin, DNM:
“Why not have a bowl of fresh fruit and green tea beside the coffee pot. Also a nice trail mix of raw nuts, seeds, goji berries, raw cacao, and more. A properly mixed bowl of raw nutritious nuts, seeds, cacao beans, and dried raw fruit can give a person all the nutrition they need for the entire day with lots of extra benefits.
Raw Cacao will help to get rid of depressed feelings because it is a psychoactive food containing more than 300 compounds that can affect moods. Raw nuts and seeds are very healthy and nutritious. Nuts provide a feeling of satisfaction because they are high in good fat. Studies have shown that those who eat nuts were actually more lean than those who didn’t eat nuts.” (source: http://www.thewellnessdiva.net/article6.htm)
Our dietary choices are control points
If you care about the health and well being of yourself, your family and your colleagues, then you will question and challenge the outrageous claims made by major food manufacturers.
Snickers® bars are not good energy. A meal-replacement bar is not a suitable replacement for real food. Smartwater® is just a marketing ploy. Gatorade® is not what your kids or you should be drinking on a regular basis. Doritos® chips make great Super Bowl Ads, but it’s still junk food. McDonalds® Happy Meals® don’t make your body happy. What do you think is in 5-hour energy® drink? I think it’s got to be poison that managed to slip by the FDA.
“Our dietary choices are control points,” Michaelf Stanclift, a Naturopathic Doctor based in Edinburgh, Scotland, reminds us. ” After all, we ultimately choose what foods we put into our and our families’ bodies. And food is arguably our best opportunity to introduce beneficial substances to our body.”
Feed your mind
If you are interested in learning more, please check out these articles and related links that were recommended by certified health coach Linda Coveney.
- Food and Mood: Is What You’re Eating, Eating You? by Michael Stanclift, N.D., a Naturopathic Doctor based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His article is featured in the HuffPost Healthy Living section, Jan 17, 2013
- Does Food Affect How Your Employees Work? By Dr. Nance MacLeod-Lutchin, DNM, known as the Wellness Diva.
- French research study (2012) reveals the mounting body of evidence suggesting our eating habits and food choices have influence on our moods over the long term. In this study, they followed 12,000 people over 10 years, looking at their eating habits and depression symptoms. Conclusion: the healthier the diet, the less likely a person is to have symptoms of depression.
- The World Health Organization report forecasts depression to be the second leading cause of disability by 2020, just behind heart disease.
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Networking is an exchange of energy, ideas, resources and connections. The quality of energy and well being you bring to the table will have a direct impact on your networking results and success. If you are stressed out and depleted, people will sense that. If you are healthy and vital, you will give off an entirely different “vibe.” You will attract more opportunities if you have good energy. Good food is one of the easiest ways to change your networking vibration to a more positive frequency.
This week is Valentine’s Day week, so there will be extra challenges. Lots of junky candy and sweets lying around to tempt you.
I challenge you to make BETTER food and beverage intake choices this week (and ongoing). If you meet someone face-to-face for networking this week, select a water with lemon instead of coffee or soda. For snacks, select whole fruit instead of sugary desserts or prepackaged items. Pack your lunch and bring it with you to work. Make conscious food choices.
For the more ambitious person, you can track your food intake by jotting down what you put in your mouth for one entire week. Think of it as budgeting – you must find out where your money goes before you can make any changes to your spending habits. Now, replace money with food and you’ll experience a moment of sheer enlightenment.
Finally, reach out and network with someone who is in the health/wellness field this week. Pick their brain about healthy behaviors and habits that they practice and recommend to their clients. If they offer initial consultations, sign up for one. It’s your body…and it’s the only one you’ll ever have.