It’s amazing how few people realize how much what you eat (or don’t eat) affects your mental state and clarity. Eating the right foods, and avoiding the wrong ones, can make you more creative, and help you with finding solutions to difficult problems.
Before we get into anything about which kinds of foods are good or bad, let’s first discuss not eating. There are two types of not eating: skipping meals and fasting. The first one is unhealthy, while the second, if done properly, can be very healthy indeed.
Skipping meals causes your body to slow down its biological processes in order to conserve energy. Your mind will tend to follow suit. This effect isn’t instantly fixed when you do get around to eating something, either… it tends to hang around for quite some time, even up until you go to sleep for the night. Your body doesn’t trust you to not do it again.
Fasting actually starts out by having the same effect, which is why short fasts are not particularly effective. Once you get two or three days into your fast, however, your body starts to get the chance to clear itself of all built up waste (providing that you’re drinking enough water… fasting is USUALLY consuming nothing other than water, although some people even stop that). As your body clears itself of all toxins and waste, your mind clears and your focus sharpens. This tends to start being very noticeable around the third day. You are also likely to start noticing that your mind seems to shift into hyper drive, going much faster than normal, and coming up with solutions to problems that seemed unsolvable before.
So that covers not eating. The next thing to cover is frequency of eating. The American standard is to eat either two or three meals per day. Anyone who has looked into nutrition or body building, and even many dieters, can tell you that this is not the most effective way to eat, though. It’s much better to eat a smaller amount every three to four hours, so that your body keeps moving along on all eight cylinders.
When you eat a lot, or you eat “heavy” foods (this isn’t in reference to weight, this is in reference to the heavy feeling it leaves in you), your body slows down to process all the food you have just given it. Your mind, as in other circumstances, will follow suit, slowing down a short time later, making it hard to focus. It can be difficult to get yourself back into focus afterwards, too.
Meats, especially red meats, can have the heavy feeling. But they generally only do so in large amounts, and you get certain nutrients in a much more usable fashion from meat than from vegetable sources. So while you can substitute some sort of vegetable matter for just about any meat, it isn’t always a good idea, and some scientific research suggests this is particularly so for men.
Foods that spike your blood sugar also cause problems. A blood sugar spike can provide a very short-term boost to your energy and focus, but just a short time later, it drops you far below where you were prior to having the spike, and it will take some time to recover your balance. The benefits of the spike are far outweighed by its penalties.