3 eating habits that decrease your creative smarts
– Virginia Woolf
I’ve worked jobs to pay my way through uni – and sometimes just to pay my way.
Some jobs you can do half dead and it wouldn’t make a speck of difference.
But when you make your living through creativity, making some informed choices about lifestyle is key.
To write 5000 words a day, generate ideas and concepts or work collaboratively – all these require cognitive focus and mental agility.
One of the first steps to get serious about creativity as your business is not to open a LinkedIn account. It is to hone your diet.
The myth of the troubled undernourished artist does not apply in the contemporary world which demands focus, attention and the ability to integrate massive amounts of information – and often also to carry out multiple roles.
You might have these poor eating habits too. Discover if you do and what to do about it:
1. You eat partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats)
Trans fats are lethal for creativity. They increase risk of obesity, damage your heart health, and can cause serious brain drain.
Diets high in trans fats increase beta-amyloid—a peptide ‘plaque’ that’s associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Common items with trans fats include: fried foods, baked goods, and processed foods.
What to do to avoid trans fats:
Raw diets are trendy, and they are your best bet for staying healthy.
Eat as much as you can as close to its original form as you can get it. If you do this, you can basically eat anything you want without suffering for it.
So, ‘less that’s cooked, less that’s packaged’ is the golden rule.
“ The myth of the troubled, undernourished artist does not apply in the contemporary world… ”
2. You sugar-power your energy levels
Sugar can make you fat and rot your teeth, and the spikes in insulin you get after eating sugar cause inflammation that results in vascular and neuronal damage.
Neurons are the cells in your brain that send and receive messages. Once they’re damaged, they can’t heal.
High sugar intake is also linked to depression – which, in case you’ve never suffered it, you don’t need if your aim is to produce.
What to do to deal with a sweet tooth:
Keep my insulin levels steady by eating small meals with a good balance of protein carbs and good fats.
This keeps up energy levels and reduces the craving for sweets.
Rather than eating lollies, choose small amounts of dark chocolate as your pleasure (but never to boost energy).
3. You eat too much processed food
You do this as a shortcut to tasty.
While not all processed food is fatty or sugary, it usually contains mega-doses of sodium, which is a hidden brain power killer.
Sodium increases the chance of stroke and is associated with cognitive decline. You don’t need to be a neuroscientist to figure out a food linked with stroke risk is not generally going to be any good for brain function.
What to do to avoid processed foods:
Wean yourself of taste. This sounds strange because most people are like lab rats when it comes to flavours that give them pleasure – they just keep going back and back to the better tasting sources. Food companies know this, that’s why they max out packaged foods with sugar and sodium.
Once you tell yourself food isn’t for pleasure, but for nutrition, it makes sense to choose the raw, less salty, less sugary food. Eventually, your taste buds and expectations adjust so that anything too over the top just tastes bad. So you won’t even want it.
Stick to this plan at least 80% of the time and your mental alertness and stamina will increase. Plus, you’ll have the energy to maintain an exercise program, and that in itself has added benefits for creativity.
Creatives need to treat their bodies as part of the important apparatus for creation, and part of doing that involves a disciplined diet.