Diet & Focus: How food improves your working day
If you’re a full-time customer support agent, you know the 3 pm slump. But why does it happen? And what can you do to avoid it?
29 November
5 min read

If you’re a full-time customer service agent, you know the 3 pm slump. Or what clever people in white lab coats call ‘postprandial somnolence.’ The famous Spanish siesta was even devoted to it, with people only returning to work after an afternoon nap.

But why is said slump so common? 

The relationship between food and focus is a strong one. In this article, we’re gonna take a look at how what you’re eating either makes you feel drowsy or keeps you sharp.

A busy brain

Though it takes up just 2% of your total body weight, your brain is your busiest organ. Depending on how hard a customer makes you think, it can demand up to 50% of your body’s oxygen.

To keep your mass of pink jelly functioning, it needs fuel. A lot of it. 

Since your brain runs on glucose, solving customer service issues consumes half of the amount your body produces. Depleted or inconsistent glucose levels can result in you forgetting procedures, losing the ability to concentrate, or even feeling irritable. 

As a customer service expert, you can’t afford to slide into that kind of low. 

Eating good brain food improves your energy, focus, and your customer’s mood. Luckily for you, modern science has already figured out what these superfoods are.

The big slump

Let’s begin with what we know about the connection between eating and fatigue. There’s all the hoopla about fatty fish and omega 3 acids that your brain loves, to keep its 60% fat figure. 

But here’s the catch: when you combine fish with starchy carbs, you’ll be a very sleepy support agent after lunch. 

Why? 

Because carbs help your body absorb ‘tryptophan’, an amino acid from fish protein. Tryptophan releases serotonin in your system, which, besides making you happy, is also a sleep regulator

Fatty fish also have lots of vitamin D that buddies up with the omega 3 acids, again inducing serotonin and better sleep quality.

So, a typical “fish and chips” meal at noon may just leave you yawning at your customer’s issues instead of empathising. 

What’s up with carbs?

Carbohydrates get a lot of bad press. But really it’s only the ‘bad’ carbs that deserve it. 

Come tea-time and 20 live chats later, many a customer support agent is reaching for a slice of cake or some cookies. But the reason you want them is down to your glucose levels. They’re low and your body’s nudging you to getafix.

Carbs in refined flours, cakes, ice creams, and sugary drinks have little nutritional value. Your body converts them to glucose very quickly, but the consequent blood sugar spike is terrible for your system. 

Since what goes up must also come down, the result is a productivity-draining energy crash.

You need a slow, sustained release of glucose throughout the day. This will relieve sugar cravings, allowing customers to speak to a more cheerful you. 

Eating ‘good’ unrefined carbs — aka no white stuff — is great for steady brain fuel. Find them in whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Eating the rainbow

Picture the spectrum of colours a rainbow has and eat raw fruits and veggies of different colours daily. Apples and avocado, bananas and bell peppers, blueberries and oranges — check. 

Substitute that plate of cookies for a salad with corn, carrots, spinach, blueberries, and walnuts. Your body will appreciate the supercharged energy and your now-focused brain can solve problems faster.

The best part about raw superfoods is that sugar from complex carbs breaks down gradually, creating a sustained glucose release. This ensures you’re focused and productive to the end of your shift and prevents sudden cravings.

One interesting study showed how participants who ate raw fruits and vegetables daily were more engaged, creative, curious, and, happier, and had greater energy levels.

Just dihydrogen oxide me

What’s tasteless, colourless, odourless, has zero nutrients, and yet you’d die without it? Yep, it’s good old look-right-through-me water. 

3/4 of your brain is made up of water. The slightest disruption in this balance — even just 2% dehydration — reduces brain fluid and negatively affects your attention span, memory, and mood.

Imagine you’re on the line with a demanding customer who just won’t quit. 

Do you feel fatigued? Like you’re losing focus? Irritable? Convinced the end of the world is nigh and the only way to be spared the horror is to worship at the altar of the great Cthulhu? 

Okay, maybe the last bit is just us. But if the rest of your answers were yes, you’re probably dehydrated. So drink up.  

When you give your body the water it needs, you can think 14% faster, stay focused longer, and be more creative in your gazillionth reply.

Even when it’s, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?

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