4 Foods to Boost Your Creativity
A blank canvas on an easel. An empty notebook. A half-finished essay or song. That little flashing cursor mocking you from the top of your computer’s word processor. If you’ve ever pursued a creative project, you know that any of those above sights are exciting. But, when you are just all out of creativity, that plain white canvas or half written story can be terrifying.
Our brains are finicky things. Sometimes, it feels like we are less in command of our thoughts and are instead in a bargaining position—begging our brains to cooperate and give us a little creative inspiration. There’s a secret weapon, though. A bargaining chip that we can use when negotiating with our stubborn minds.
Here's the trick. Just like anything, our brains need fuel to operate. What goes into your brain as fuel directly affects what comes out—and guess who decides what goes in? (ok, stop guessing. It’s you. The answer is yo). We all know what happens when we drink a triple shot of espresso before bed so it’s no secret that food and drink play a huge role in how our brains work. So, next time you’re in a slump or you have a big creative project ahead of you, check out these foods that are scientifically proven to get your creative juices flowing.
Complex Carbs (Whole Grains and Oats)
Contrary to popular belief, certain types of carbs in moderation are not only good for your diet, but they are essential to your health and mind. There are two types of carbs, simple and complex. Simple carbs—think artificial or added sugars and highly processed foods—leave your brain and body feeling sluggish and uninventive. Complex carbs, on the other hand, provide quality fuel for your brain to get the creative ideas flowing.
This is great news for pasta lovers and bread lovers (and who doesn’t love toast?). Just make sure that one of the first ingredients on the packaging says whole grains to make sure you’re getting the good stuff.
Essential Fatty Acids (Avocados and Salmon)
Avocado. More than just a health trend, this temperamental fruit is one of the best types of essential fatty acids out there. Why do I say temperamental? Because they only seem to be ripe for 30 seconds before getting too brown and mushy to eat! But, they are sooo worth it. And maybe I’m exaggerating about the 30 seconds…maybe.
You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t fat a bad thing?” Well, yes and no. Just like carbs, there are good fats and bad fats. There’s a reason why the fat in avocados is called an essential fatty acid, though. It’s because they are…well…essential, and they fall into the first category of good fats. So, take your whole grain toast that we mentioned earlier and spread on some avocado for a solid, creativity boosting snack. If avocados aren’t really your thing or the grocery store is fresh out, the Omega-3 fatty acid found in salmon and other fish is great, too.
Antioxidants (Berries and Green Tea)
Take your avocado toast to the next level and add some crushed berries to it. Trust me. Go try it, I’ll wait here…
Even better, take some berry compote with honey (Not jelly! Remember, added sugars = bad) and marinate your salmon in it. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, add some red pepper flakes for spice. One bite and you’ll feel like you’re dining in a tropical island paradise. Afterwards, you might feel creative enough to write about it.
Berries are by far your best source for antioxidants, which help the fight free radicals that slow your brain down. Even better, they contain other essentials that promote neuron efficiency. Maybe you’re looking for a warm drink to sip while you work? Try some green tea. Unlike coffee, green tea’s benefits don’t end with caffeine. The soothing drink is also loaded with antioxidants and something called theanine. This amino acid reduces stress while boosting cognition. It also causes your body to absorb the caffeine at a more controlled rate, which means you don’t get the jitters, headaches, or crash that come with too much coffee.
Speaking of drinks, yes, alcohol may help your thoughts flow a little more freely but, please, don’t overdo it. We all know Hemingway loved to “Write drunk, edit sober,” and, more recently, Florence and the Machinesinger Florence Welch confessed she used to write songs while drinking. Because of alcohol, though, Hemingway’s life didn’t end too well and Florence has since sobered up. In fact, she’s been happily alcohol free since 2014 and still making great music.
Moral of the story: a glass of wine might get your creative processes going, but be responsible!
And there you have it! Next time you need some creativity, give any of the above a shot. Or combine them all to make some inspiring meals.