Hectic, deadline-driven, high-achieving, jet-setting lifestyles make staying fit and healthy next to impossible for corporate achievers. Lengthy meetings and conferences affect mealtimes, and social commitments can compel a wine and cheese indulgence. Often, corporate heads find it easy to stay healthy for the first half of the day...have a healthy breakfast of oats, skimmed milk and/or egg whites and multigrain bread, but once at work, meals timings are erratic or meals are skipped and whatever is at hand and easily available is quickly consumed. As a result, ultra-busy executives may end up having far too many stimulants such as coffee, tea, cookies and biscuits high in sugar and refined flour, and deep-fried foods such as samosas, medu vadas, bhel—foods that lack fibre, vitamins and antioxidants that are good for health.
Ongoing nutrition at regular intervals of 3-4 hours is vital to maintain beneficial metabolic processes and body weight, significantly improve mental stamina and sharpen intelligence. Macronutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins from healthy unrefined foods do the bulk of the work in maintaining blood sugar levels and supply energy consistent for both mental and physical work. The B complex vitamins, spread over several food groups such as milk and milk products, cereals such as oat or chapati, poultry and seafood, also play a significant role in providing energy. Omega nutrition found in nuts, seeds and fish, especially almonds, improves concentration and memory. Antioxidants found in deep-coloured vegetables such as tomato, broccoli and spinach, and fruit such as orange and strawberries enable an improved handling of stressful situations without damaging body tissue or breaking down muscle tissue to fuel activity and release energy.
Bowl full of goodness: B complex vitamins in cereals boost energy.
Undoubtedly, healthy nutrition and regular exercise is essential for improving the corporate achiever’s health profile, preventing diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. But more important than that is the fact that healthy nutrition works on a minute-to-minute basis and is therefore indispensable to improving productivity at work. Consistent and regular eating patterns reduce lethargy, improve reaction time and alertness. This means that a corporate achiever can achieve much more in less time because healthy nutrition helps him work with improved clarity, concentration and alertness.
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Guidelines for the busy corporate achiever:
• Ensure you maintain mealtimes; set an alarm on your cellphone or computer
• Regular mealtimes improve productivity, so give it and your exercise routine as much importance as a business appointment. Work your schedule around these mealtimes as far as possible. This may seem difficult at first but with time, colleagues and clients will work around your schedule and take it as seriously as you do
• Get together with colleagues and plan your meal and mealtime reminder service together. It’s far easier to change your lifestyle if you work as a team
• Ensure that your diet contains four-six servings of wholesome multigrain food choices, wholewheat, finger millet, bajra (pearl millet) and jowar (sorghum), at least 500g of multicoloured vegetables, six-eight soaked almonds or 2 tablespoons of dry ground flaxseeds, a fist-sized serving of protein foods and 2-4 teaspoons of olive, groundnut or rice bran oil to cook with
• Remember to exercise every day. Choose the form of exercise you enjoy and stay active through the day. Try to take at least 10,000 steps daily
• If you travel frequently, always stock up on fruit and nuts or low-fat granola bars, and ensure you take a swim or use the hotel treadmill.
Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist and Pilates expert. She runs InteGym in Mumbai, which advocates workouts with healthy diets.
Write to Madhuri at email@example.com