Can your food choices effect your business performance?


At the recent annual CIPD annual conference there was a great talk by Dr Alan Watkins “being brilliant every single day”. You can check out his talk from Tedx on You Tube which covers most the points raised at the talk.

Watkins talks about how our results are influenced by our behaviours and what influences our behaviours is our thinking, which is determined by the way we are feeling. Feelings come from our emotions, which are ultimately a result of our physiology.


Dr Watkins says ““what we feel has a far bigger impact on what we do than thinking does.”

As you will see in his diagram he describe coherent leadership and great results as “learning to control all levels of the human system and not just the surface behaviours”. 

Watkins shows how “Emotion is significantly more important to health and happiness than exercise or what you eat” and how “mismanaged emotion is the superhighway to disease and distress.”

This made me start to think about how what we eat actually effects our emotions. Just think about it – how do you feel if you eat a massive Chinese take away versus how you feel after you’ve eaten a nutritious salad or stir-fry? I’m not even talking about how your gut feels but how are your emotions? Is there any regret or guilt from eating too much of the take away for example?

Eating healthy isn’t always easy and at this 2 days conference we were surrounded by the temptation of sweets, chocolates and champagne being given out by the exhibitors! Eating sugary foods makes me feel awful and it wasn’t easy avoiding them. Here are the food choices that I made which made it easier to avoid the temptations.

Healthy snacks
The night before the conference, I packed raw nuts and quest bars so that I would have my own snacks for mid morning and mid afternoon. I also took protein shakes for post training because I made time for a quick shoulder session before dinner! This meant I didn’t join the others for pre dinner drinks.

The conference was 2 hours away from home, which meant a 530am start to get there on time. I still had breakfast (oats, flaxseed, whey and banana) before leaving home. At the hotel I opted for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with gluten free bread – this wasn’t on the menu but they were happy to make it for me. I also took a banana from the breakfast bar as a snack for later.

The lunch provided by the conference included sandwiches, crisps and fruit. I’d spotted a pret a manger near the conference hall on the way in, so I chose to pop out and get a chicken salad and a protein pot. On the second day I’d spotted another café in the exhibition and opted for chicken and quinoa.

We went to a Cuban restaurant and I went for a chicken salad and asked the waiter to omit the creamy dressing and I asked for some olive oil and balsamic on the side. I avoided alcohol by reminding myself that I had another early start and I wanted to feel fresh in the morning to deliver our workshop.

It’s often a challenge to avoid eating badly when working away. My 3 pieces of advice on how to avoid it are:

  1. Be prepared with your own snacks so you don’t go hungry and give in to temptation.
  2. Remember you have choices.
  3. Remind yourself how you will feel after you have eaten the food. If it won’t make you feel good, avoid it.

Bearing in mind all the foundations that need to be in place to achieve great results, making the right food choices can play an important part when it also effects your emotions. It therefore makes sense to make the right food choices.


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