7 Foods to Dramatically Improve Staff Productivity, Diet, and Concentration

When you start a new business, or a new job, a lot of time is expended making sense of your work environment, impressing your supervisors, and easing yourself into a new employment experience. Because of the schedule and perhaps lifestyle changes that occur when people start new employment, many employees experience what is called the “Startup 15,” which is similar to the Freshman 15. As weight and unhealthy eating can affect the quality of an employee’s work, it is important to be aware of desk job weight gain and to try to prevent it. As a business owner or manager, there are some ways that you can help yourself and your employees to stay healthy and successful.

Diet and Concentration Are Connected

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom described his experience gaining weight as he was building up the company: he gained 25 pounds between Instagram’s start in October 2010 and its 10 million user milestone. This is relatively easy to do when you are constantly on-the-go with no time to prepare healthy meals. You have to rely on convenient, fast food just to survive, which also happens to be fatty. Office vending machines may be filled with candy, chips,  and soda, providing immediate energy to make it through the day, but also a potential pound or two over a longer period of time, which can ultimately equate to minutes of lost productivity (more on this soon). Diet and concentration are definitely connected.

The way we eat can have an immediate effect on our productivity, which in turn affects our work output. A donut can cause a sugar spike that increases alertness for about 20 minutes, but after that we can crash unless we maintain this high-sugar intake. A study conducted by researcher Roy F. Baumeister, in collaboration with New York Times science writer John Tierney, found that skipping breakfast affected school children’s productivity and behavior, but that when given a healthy snack, the children who had skipped breakfast performed as well as their peers who had not. This proves that healthy snacking can have a noticeable effect on focus, concentration, and productivity.

How to Change Your Office Environment

  • Educate employees on the effects of unhealthy eating
  • Provide healthier snacking alternatives in office vending machines
  • Encourage employees to graze

While you cannot force your employees to eat breakfast or to eat more healthily, there is definitely an educational aspect that can be implemented in any office environment. Calling an office meeting and giving a quick presentation on the correlation between healthy eating and concentration can help employees to understand how their dietary choices affect their output at work. While there is no guarantee that anyone will change their decisions, education is a stepping stone.

In addition, if your office provides snacks for employees, ensuring that healthy options are at least available, and pioneering healthy snacking in the office can help to change behaviors. Providing healthier options in work vending machines in combination with a general discussion of diet and concentration can help to get the ball of change rolling, and hopefully inspire workers to start implementing even small changes into their snacking.

Although many of us eat larger meals a couple of times a day, when it comes to maintaining focus and concentration, eating little and often helps to provide a constant, steady supply of glucose needed for brain function and, consequently, productivity. Encouraging employees to graze on healthy snacks, even providing those snacks, can help to keep attention levels up both before and after lunchtime.

Foods to Eat for Increased Productivity

  • Fish
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocadoes
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots

There are many foods that employees can snack on throughout the day that have brain power benefits. While encouraging employees to eat fish in the office might be a huge social faux pas because of the less-than-appetizing smell, dark chocolate, nuts, and seeds are all excellent grazing options for a desk job. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and caffeine to boost energy, and nuts and seeds are also rich in antioxidants that help to combat cognitive decline.

Avocadoes help to lower bad cholesterol, increasing blood flow; blueberries are another food that is packed with antioxidants, and carrots can provide our brains with a steady supply of glucose as opposed to the spikes and crashes that occur with high-sugar snack foods.

You don’t necessarily need a complete diet overhaul to see the benefits of implementing some of these foods into a diet, and general office education on how to maintain a healthy and constant level of productivity and focus is crucial to being successful and driven. Desk job weight gain can have serious effects on concentration, so it is important to be aware of the small differences that can be made to increase health and productivity. Whether it be as small as a quick food education meeting or changing out the snacks in the office vending machine.


Tsotsis, Alexia. “Don’t Let Your Company’s Scale Tip Your Bathroom Scale.” TechCrunch. http://techcrunch.com/2013/05/17/dont-let-your-companys-scale-tip-your-bathroom-scale/. (22 May, 2013).

Widrich, Leo. “The Science Behind How Your Productivity Is Chosen by What You Eat.” Buffer. http://blog.bufferapp.com/the-science-behind-how-your-nutrition-will-decide-your-productivity-for-today. (22 May, 2013).

2 comments on “7 Foods to Dramatically Improve Staff Productivity, Diet, and Concentration”

  1. Peter D.

    Do you know of a company that provides health coaching for all our employees to go through a health training coarse. I know that Wholefoods have assentives and give bonuses to their employees when that take action for their health. It seems that companies would profit and bring more value to their employees to more preventive as food is your best medicine than to be dependent on health care.

    Thanks, Peter

  2. Corrine Collins

    Peter, I’ve never heard of a company that provides health coaching for employees, but there are a few companies that provide healthy snacks for employees. I’ve only tried one from the UK, it’s called Graze, but I’ve also heard about Snackbox which does the same thing here in the US.

    People really do underestimate how connected diet and concentration are, but maybe one day we’ll all figure it out.

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