How to Fight Procrastination With These Four Foods
Can you really fight procrastination with what you eat?
Here's how these four foods can help.
Ever heard of the saying, “all roads lead to Rome”?
By the early fourth century, the Romans had constructed over 53,000 miles of arrow-straight roads that stretched over hills, across river, and through mountains. They were designed to be the most direct route between destinations, allowing the military to out-maneuver and out-pace their enemies.
This system of roadways also helped travelers find their way. The roads circled the capital, like the spokes of a wheel. So no matter what direction you were coming from, chances are, you’d find your way to the capital.
When it comes to procrastination, many roads lead to it as well. There are many avenues that cause someone to procrastinate. But there are many avenues for fighting it as well.
One of the least talked about avenues is nutrition.
How can nutrition influence procrastination?
Because of the connection between food and mood.
For instance, have you heard of serotonin?
It’s known as the happiness neurotransmitter. It impacts wellbeing, regulating emotions, digestion, memory, and sleep. Low levels of serotonin have been correlated to depression. It’s also linked to trouble sleeping, low self-esteem, and anxiety. This chemical is produced in two places; the brain and the gut.
But guess what?
90% of serotonin is produced in the gut!
And the right nutrition influences not only how you feel but how productive you are. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, the right nutrition can boost motivation and productivity by 20%.
So let’s explore what foods may nudge us to take action and stay motivated - instead of hesitating or putting things off until the last minute.
Four Foods for Fighting Procrastination:
1) Greek Yogurt
Stress is a major player in procrastination.
Whether it’s the stress of a daunting task, not knowing how to start a project, or dreading a certain outcome – stress plays a major role in causing people to avoid certain tasks.
In fact, recent research from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany, found differences between the brains of procrastinators’ and action takers’. One difference was that the procrastinators had larger amygdala’s. This almond-shaped part of the brain is responsible for the fight-or-flight response.
Researcher Erhan Genc, explains what a larger amygdala means:
“Individuals with a higher amygdala volume may be more anxious about the negative consequences of an action -- they tend to hesitate and put off things.”
Basically, a larger amygdala means more sensitivity to fear (and stress), which stops them from acting. It’s this fear that creates hesitation.
Well, one of the proven fighters of stress is Greek yogurt.
In a study by the University of California, women who ate probiotic Greek yogurt for four weeks had a significantly reduced stress response (measured by fMRI scans) compared to those who ingested regular yogurt. One reason for this is because gut bacteria directly influences stress levels.
Another study in 2015 in Nutritional Neuroscience, found participants who consumed Greek yogurt had substantial improvement in mental health and mental capabilities. Subjects who consumed regular yogurt did not.
2) Tuna & Salmon
Your brain is the fattiest organ in the body.
Experts believe that 60% of the brain is fat, 25% of that is DHA. Both tuna and salmon are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids like DHA. This is not just important for overall brain health, but it also keeps the cell membranes flexible, and increases the communication between nerve cells and the brain.
Higher levels of DHA are linked to mental sharpness, increased memory, and emotional regulation.
However, when you don’t consume enough DHA, your body uses saturated or monounsaturated fats instead, which don’t work as well for communication between nerve cells. In fact, low levels of DHA are associated with ADHD, depression, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
3) Grass-Fed Beef
Over the years, grass-fed beef has picked up serious momentum.
As the name implies, this is from cattle that only munch on grass and other foraged foods. Overall, it has less fat, more antioxidants (such as Vitamin E), and more CLAs (linked to decreased cancer and heart disease).
Also, in a study by California State University’s College of Agriculture, researchers found grass-fed beef had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids compared to grain-fed beef. Besides the benefits explained in the Tuna & Salmon Section, Omega-3’s also increase mental wellbeing and recent studies show it may help you stay focused.
Plus, it’s a great source of Iron. In one study, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with balanced iron levels performed better during mental tasks and finished them faster than women with lower levels.
4) Dark Chocolate
There are countless health benefits of dark chocolate (over 70% cacao or more).
One reason is the high amount of antioxidants, more than even blueberries. Dark chocolate is also high in flavanols, a type of flavonoid with anti-inflammatory qualities. These can stimulate the inner lining of the arteries to release nitric oxide, which relaxes the arteries and lowers blood pressure. But flavanols also impact the brain.
In a study by The Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, researchers found that eating high-flavanol chocolate for five days increased blood flow to the brain. Harvard Medical School found a similar finding with hot cocoa. This study published in American Academy of Neurology, found that drinking two cups of hot cocoa increased blood flow to parts of the brain, which may help elderly people prevent memory loss and keep the brain healthy.
Flavanols may also help reaction time. A 2011 study found that reaction time and memory increased two hours after eating dark chocolate compared to those who munched on white chocolate (low flavanols).
Most surprisingly, Dr. Lee Berk found that 30 minutes after eating 1.5 ounces of chocolate, participants increased gamma brain waves. According to Dr. Lee Berk, "Gamma frequency is associated with neurosynchronization, in other words neuroplasticity.... It is the highest level of cognitive processing.”
Well, there you have it.
Nutrition is just one influence on procrastination, but it’s one of the most overlooked. Start integrating these foods each week. If nothing else, start noticing how what you eat impacts how you feel – and how productive you are.