Proper food choices help you navigate workplace politics and make good choices.

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Q: I know my diet is affecting my work performance, but doughnuts, coffee and candy are the only way I make it through the day. Does food really affect my productivity?

A: Yes, food is the gas that fuels your ability to navigate workplace politics and make good choices. Poor food selections mean you end up grumpy, tired and unmotivated.

I interviewed my favorite doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, heart surgeon at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical, for workplace nutrition tips.

Oz noted that we can’t be masters of our workplace destiny without a power breakfast. His three favorites include:

• Plain yogurt and berries.

• Steel-cut oatmeal with flaxseed oil.

• Just say “nuts” to breakfast: walnuts, almonds or any nuts.

He says most people commit “hormonal suicide” during their workday. From 9 to 10 we’re hyperactive due to sugar and caffeine, then we go into a coma state in late morning, then after lunch we’re barely awake, and finally we hit our stride from 4 to 5.

If you’d like more energy, bring food from home. Oz pointed out that you know what’s in it, and you eat better quality food. And you fatten your wallet, not your waist.

Oz is a huge fan of snacking. So if you thought being healthy meant starving … forget it. He whipped out several bags of nuts to show me his favorite snacks and also told me eating nuts before meals releases ghrelin. This hormone makes you feel full, so you eat less.

Because change is hard, I asked for ideas on making better eating easier. Oz made four suggestions:

• Keep nuts and fruits at your desk for easy snacks.

• Pick what you like, or you won’t do it.

• Automate it. Make it easy to do these things so they become a habit.

• Realize that anything you change will help your productivity.

Because I consider myself educated on nutrition, I was surprised to learn an interesting fact from Oz. Did you know that you need to be exposed to a new food 12 times?

Oz believes most adults have “infantilized” their taste buds by not trying new foods. He thinks we pay for our narrow tastes in reduced energy, health problems and slower brainpower.

Oz summarized with advice that echoes my passion for good relationships with others: “Ask yourself what you’d feed someone you love. Is this what you’re eating? You determine 70 percent of how you function with what you put in your mouth and how you move your body.”

If we all headed down this yellow brick road of nutrition with Oz, we might find it a lot easier to be wizards at what we do!

The last word(s)

Q. I have a co-worker who doesn’t know what he’s doing. When I point this out, he argues. How can I show him the ropes?

A. Don’t make him pick between his self-esteem and learning. Say, “You probably know this,” then show him.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at; or at Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to