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Think of your brain as an endurance athlete -- but a performer of feats of invention rather than physical prowess. It needs fuel. And you probably need practice approaching food with a new attitude.
Most of us freelancers come at nutrition as a sidenote to the sustenance our personal passions provide. Our new projects and new interests fill us up much more readily, and with more variety, than what we put on our plates.
Whether it’s reading or painting, watching film or playing with code, we tend to make THAT the priority...and food? It’s just what’s in the fridge, near at hand, or what comes out of a drive-thru window.
But we’re freelancers, or highly specialized multi-tasking-mother-loving machines of innovation and invention. Our work takes just as much precision and energy as any olympic athlete.
So why do we shortchange our brain by feeding it after-thoughts -- food that’s second rate, doesn’t appeal, or just plods along at the same-old, same-old takeout beat?
Here are five attitudes that have changed up my nutrition routine, given me a boost of energy, and a new outlet for freelance exploration. Try them on for size. Your innovation, invention, and just plain sense of well-being, will thank you.
Food is Fuel:
It’s got to nourish, satisfy, and meet nutritional needs. Your brain is mostly fat. Give it good fats.
Build healthy muscle: a brain with a limp or inactive body is also a short-changed muscle itself. Get enough complex carbohydrates, and a variety of fruit and vegetables.
Food is Creative:
Ccreativity is not just for your work or hobbies.
Cooking is also creative. Food is a cornucopia of experience for the senses, from taste buds to fragrance to texture and sight.
Stretch yourself. One of the best ways to grow the brain muscle -- and feed the soul -- is to try new things. Enjoy the experience of food.
This more mindful practice of preparing and enjoying food also reduces anxiety and improves digestion.
Try treating yourself to fresh wild caught salmon one day, and notice the difference -- smell, taste, texture -- from the frozen or farmed variety.
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Food is Fun:
Play with it. Let yourself spend a little time eating what you like.
Ditch “good” nutrition on occasion, and make that totally impertinent treat you always wanted as a kid.
Maybe it’s chocolate on chocolate pudding with bananas and chocolate syrup. Maybe it’s real whipping cream with fresh peaches. Maybe it’s homemade cookies -- call up mum and get the recipe.
....Maybe it’s actually a food fight.
Just run with it!
Food is worth the time:
...But let yourself find a good flow for how much time you invest in it.
Like your business, invest in practices that give you leeway to benefit from it without having it steamroll your life and schedule.
Use one of your breaks or days off to prep meals for the week.
My favourite way to have food that I enjoy, and that fuels me all week, is to pack a nice fridge full of “take-out”--homemade frijoles, pre-made cartons of Pad Thai, rice, a huge tub of red lentil curry. I just take-it-out!
Food is Community-Building:
...everything is more fun with more than one, right?
Food has always been a part of networking. When I worked in Ireland a year ago, no business was done but over a glass of wine, a meal, or a Guinness -- usually all three.
There was no contradiction in enjoying the meal and networking. In fact, no one could imagine connecting or trusting or brainstorming without the fellowship of really excellent food.
Food isn’t just going to nourish your brain and body to be more innovative and flexible. It’s going to nourish your network, your business, and your friendships.
Take these five new attitudes on food to the bank. See food for what it is: fuel you deserve, a creative outlet you can enjoy, and even an avenue for community connection.
CJ writes, travels, & recovers wonder on a regular basis. With Get It Writ, she teaches small businesses branding & concrete community engagement. When she isn't teaching the ropes of social media storytelling to clients, she fences or teaches herself something new. Right now, it's Welsh & coding.