Inspired by Olympians: How Healthy Meals Can Optimize Employee Performance

Posted by on Friday, February 7th, 2014 with Comments Off on Inspired by Olympians: How Healthy Meals Can Optimize Employee Performance Comments

As the Olympics blast off in Sochi this weekend, the world’s eyes will be on the elite group of athletes competing in the Winter Games. Many of us are impressed by their athletic prowess and their dedication — it takes years of commitment and hard work to become an Olympian! Perhaps, though, we should pay a little more attention to how many Olympic athletes treat their bodies: they are like finely-tuned machines that require care and upkeep, especially when it comes to nutrition.

While Michael Phelps’s famous 8,000-calorie-a-day diet is not a routine any non-athlete should be emulating, the reality is most Olympic diets aren’t nearly as extreme or even contain that many exotic ingredients (aside from copious amounts of protein powder). Many athletes report simply eating a wholesome, healthy variety of meals and snacks throughout the day to keep their bodies in the best possible condition so they can excel at their sport.

table of fruits and nuts for athletes

Olympic athletes fuel their body with healthy, wholesome meals and snacks.
Image source: flickr user luxomedia

And while your office may not be a mountainside ski slope or a winding luge course, it’s definitely worth considering the Olympic point of view that our nutrition habits affect our ability to stay healthy, concentrate on our daily tasks, and be productive at work! That’s why powerhouse companies like Google not only offer free food, but encourage their employees to partake in healthy meals and snacks over junk food.

Olympians understand food doesn’t just fuel their bodies: it affects their minds as well. As American curler Jessica Schultz reports, “We have to make sure we’re getting the best nutrition to keep our brain fueled so we can focus for the two and half hours we’re on the ice.” Even if you’re spending your days in an office chair instead of an ice rink, the same principle applies: proper nutrition makes for better focus, period.

coworkers having Olympic lunch

Colleagues celebrate the Games by eating an Olympic-inspired lunch at the office.
Image source: flickr user BT Celebrates London 2012

Ready to incorporate some Olympic wisdom into your office meals? To get started, here are three tips from the experts and athletes themselves:

Breakfast is essential! Every Olympian who describes their daily diet to curious journalists includes a healthy breakfast, almost always with a mix of whole grains and protein. At the Olympic Village in Sochi, the U.S. ski and snowboard team’ s official “high performance chef” will serve athletes oatmeal, Greek yogurt with fresh berries, and hard boiled eggs each morning. Next time you want to have a motivating team meeting, skip the lunchtime pizza delivery and invite employees to a healthy staff breakfast instead.

Go nuts for snacks. Maybe it’s because Blue Diamond almonds are an official sponsor, but most discussions about Olympic eating habits include an offhand mention of nuts as a must-have snack. Snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler tells Women’s Health her go-to snack is  “dried mangoes, walnuts, and goji berries. The mix provides iron, antioxidants, and omega-3s and really kicks up my energy.” Providing healthy snacks in the office encourages employees to make choices that will help their energy levels stay steady, rather than succumbing to the spike-and-crash of eating sugary treats like cookies or candy… and research shows that nuts are one of the healthiest snacks available.

brown rice sushi in chopsticks

Sushi is a favorite meal choice for Olympians – especially with brown rice.
Image source: flickr user Pabo76

Red meat? Not so much. It depends on the sport, of course, but many athletes (especially those who don’t need to pack on pounds) are favoring vegetarian or plant-heavy diets supplemented by lean meats like chicken and seafood. Julia Mancuso, the most-decorated alpine skier on Team USA, reports to Glamour that “I love sushi, so if it’s available where I am, then that’s definitely my go-to. If not, I stick with a lean protein, veggies, and brown rice.” Take a cue from Julia: order sushi instead of greasy takeout for your next office lunch, and at the catering table, replace a heavy beef entree with wild salmon for more brain-boosting omega-3s.

When you want to treat your team to Olympic-inspired office meals, makes it easy! We’ll do the heavy lifting, thanks to our easy online ordering and Virtual Cafeteria Service… while you collect a gold medal from your satisfied staff.

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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