display of uncooked food varieties on a tableFood plays a big role in our lives, including our success on the job. It not only affects our physical health but our mental health as well. Learn more about what foods are recommended to stay energized and focused throughout the day.

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Eating Right to Fuel Your Work Journey

Nov 21, 2023

display of uncooked food varieties on a table

Healthy Choices

You might wonder why we're writing about nutrition in a blog about work. It's because food plays a big role in our life, including our success on the job. It not only affects our physical health but mental health as well. The foods we put in our body can affect our energy levels and mood throughout the day.

So what should you do to stay energized and feel ready for the day ahead? Start with a balanced diet that is filled with nutrients. Check out Eat Right at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for more information on nutrition. You may also want to talk with your doctor about which foods to add to your diet and which ones to avoid to create an eating plan that works for you. Below are a few tips:

  • Increase energy: While caffeine may give you that extra boost of energy in the morning, excessive caffeine can lead to stress. It is important to rely on nutrients that you consume in your foods instead. Fresh fruits have natural sugar that gives your body an extra boost throughout the day. And asparagus contains plenty of B vitamins to turn carbohydrates into fuel. Try adding asparagus to a lunch salad to give you energy throughout the afternoon.
  • Increase bone health: Calcium may be important for keeping bones healthy and strong. If your job is physically demanding and you are on your feet all day, it's important to maintain a healthy calcium level. Dairy, broccoli and almonds all pack a lot of calcium. Grab yogurt and a serving of almonds for a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
  • Growing and restoring the body: Having protein daily can be important for fighting infections, carrying minerals, vitamins and oxygen throughout the body, and restoring the body. Good sources of protein include meat, poultry and eggs. If you prefer to have a different lifestyle when it comes to eating, other sources of protein can include beans, nuts, seeds and soy products. Keep in mind that with any food, the amount of protein needed is based on different factors such as age, sex and amount of physical activity.
  • Reduce inflammation: Inflammation happens when your immune system attacks anything foreign to your body. Avoiding some foods, like soda and fried foods, can help prevent inflammation. Adding other foods, like nuts and salmon, can also help. And drink plenty of water! Drinking water throughout the day helps a lot of body functions and can calm inflammation.

Making Nutrition Work for You

If you're starting work or looking for work, it's a good idea to think about what you eat and how it affects your daily schedule. For example, some types of disabilities, such as diabetes, renal or kidney disease, or an eating disorder, may require you to keep a specific food and/or medication schedule. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees with disabilities can request reasonable accommodations. Consider talking with your employer to see if these options can help you:

  • A flexible lunch break
  • Additional and/or frequent breaks throughout the day
  • Access to a refrigerator or other food storage to bring food from home

If you know that you need to bring lunch each day to work, meal prepping on the weekend is a great way to make sure you get the proper nutrition in your daily meals. It will also keep you from scrambling in the morning at the last minute for food to pack and take to work. If you are unsure how to cook a certain item of food or are just beginning on your cooking journey, ask a friend, family member or mentor to teach you the basics or for some recipes. We all have to start somewhere! There are also several resources available online and even sometimes in your local community.

It's important to remember that these tips are only to help you understand how the right foods can help you be your best self at work. You should always follow the advice of your healthcare provider.

Additional Resources

About Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket Program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. You can also learn more by registering for a free, online Work Incentives Seminar Event webinar. Or text TICKET to 1-571-489-5292 to receive Ticket Program texts. Standard messaging rates may apply, and you can opt out at any time.

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