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The Perfect Palette: The Power of Proper Nutrition for Designers (w/recipes)

The world of design is an expanse of magnificent colors, stunning visuals and wondrous innovation. For a graphic designer, to truly thrive in the industry isn't just about software proficiency or having the best tools. There's a synergy between nutritive well-being and creative excellence. Recognizing and fostering that synergy will amplify your focus and energy and ignite your creative spirit, allowing you to flourish as a designer. Read on to discover how the right nutrients not only nourish the body but also kindle the imagination and unlock your design potential.


A Wacom graphic tablet with stylus and a painter's palette on top with various healthy foods arranged like paint.

Table of Contents


You'll Learn

  • The crucial role of well-being in enhancing creative output.

  • How poor nutrition impacts creative function.

  • The tangible basis of ethereal inspiration: a healthy brain.

  • The exhaustive nature of the design process.

  • The sedentary lifestyle behind a graphic designer’s screen.

  • The role of water in boosting creative inspiration.

  • How caffeine sharpens focus and enhances mood.

 

A woman wearing glasses sitting at her desk in her home office eating cookies out of a bag.

 

The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Designers

Why should nutrition matters so much to a Designer? A designer's job is understanding a client’s vision inside and out, brain-storming and finalizing ideas…making that logo pop. Poor nutrition can lead to fatigue, reduced cognitive function, and creative blocks that will stop you from meeting the brief. The design world is one of the more competitive around, staying a step ahead means ensuring every facet of you is primed to maximize your design execution and excellence. A well-nourished body and mind can push boundaries, think outside the box and create designs that resonate and inspire.


A partial chalk drawing of the left hemisphere of the brain with the other half an array of healthy foods arranged to make the shape of the right hemisphere of the brain. A quote that says, "A nourished body equates to a thriving mind." is written beside it.

Mind & Matter: Fueling The Creative Brain

Creativity is a demanding process. While inspiration might seem ethereal, it's grounded in a well-functioning brain. A nourished body equates to a thriving mind and in a profession centered around innovation, there’s no greater asset.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, play a critical role in brain health. Found abundantly in fatty fish like salmon, they enhance cognitive function and focus.

  • Flavonoids, present in dark chocolate (yay!), stimulate the brain regions associated with memory and learning.

  • Complex carbohydrates, such as those in whole grains, slowly release energy, ensuring sustained concentration.

  • Antioxidant-rich foods like berries combat oxidative stress, potentially sparking new pathways of thinking.


Energize Your Designs: Foods for Vitality

The design process can be exhausting. Each project brings the unique task of precisely executing creative vision, and that requires steady focus and energy.

  • B-vitamins like those found in shellfish, poultry, chickpeas and asparagus are your allies here. They play a critical role in producing brain chemicals that combat fatigue, positively affect mood and other brain functions.

  • Enter the power of protein: from lean meats, tofu, beans, to eggs. This macronutrient is the building block for neurotransmitters, keeping the brain sharp and ready.

  • Iron from foods such as spinach, beets and red meats, enhances attention and creative endurance.

  • To round it off, magnesium - present in nuts and seeds - aids muscle relaxation and sleep, ensuring you're recharged for another day of design.


Harmony and Balance: Regulating Design Excellence

Behind the screen, a graphic designer's life can be sedentary, but the right nutrition can act as a catalyst, stirring the mind's depths and bringing dynamic energy and flow to every design.

  • Fibrous foods like chia seeds, lentils and broccoli ensure a smooth digestive rhythm which frees a designer to create without restriction.

  • Incorporating probiotics, like those found in fermented foods such as kimchi, yogurt, tempeh and even pickles, improve gut health which subsequently enhances mental clarity and capacity.


A smiling woman sitting at her desk in from of her laptop computer is pouring herself a refreshing glass of water with lemon.

Hydration By Design: Water Your Creativity

For a graphic designer, every drop of creativity counts, and so does every drop of water. Beyond its basic role in hydrating the body, water serves as the cerebral conduit that maintains optimal brain function. When adequately hydrated, the mind operates with increased clarity, sharper focus, and heightened alertness—all critical for intricate design tasks. Moreover, water facilitates the efficient delivery of nutrients to brain cells, boosting mental acumen. A well-hydrated designer resonates with inspiration. So, the next time you reach for a tool to enhance your designs, make sure a glass of water is one of the first in your hand.



Caffeine's Creative Spark: Brewing Innovation

Coffee Lovers rejoice! Beyond its famed role in waking us up, caffeine acts as a cognitive supercharger, sharpening focus and boosting alertness—leading to those 'EUREKA!’' moments of innovation and breakthrough ideation. Moreover, in moderate amounts, caffeine can elevate mood, igniting a sense of enthusiasm and passion for the creative process.


Some other sources of caffeine if coffee isn’t your cup of tea!

  • Teas.Black tea typically contains the most caffeine, followed by green tea and then white tea. However, the caffeine content can vary depending on the brand and steeping time.

  • Yerba Maté. A traditional drink made from a plant indigenous to South Africa is known for its energizing effects.


 

Not sure where to start? Try these meal plan options!


General Population

(No Dietary Restrictions)


Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with Fresh Berries and Nuts - A hearty bowl of oatmeal topped with a mix of fresh berries and a sprinkle of nuts. This provides a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to kick start your day.

Lunch:

  • Grilled Chicken Salad with Mixed Greens - A refreshing salad made with grilled chicken, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette dressing. Packed with protein and essential vitamins.


Dinner:

A delicious dish of creamy dill salmon served with asparagus.

Creamy Dill Salmon


4 salmon fillets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Fresh dill sprigs and lemon slices for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste


Instructions:

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper.In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the salmon fillets in the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked. Remove the salmon from the skillet and set aside.In the same skillet, add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the Dijon mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the skillet, stirring to combine.Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.Reduce the heat to low and stir in the heavy cream or coconut milk. Add the chopped dill and stir until the sauce is creamy and slightly thickened.Return the salmon fillets to the skillet and spoon some of the sauce over them.Cook for another 2-3 minutes, ensuring the salmon is heated through.Garnish with fresh dill sprigs and lemon slices.


Serve immediately.

This creamy dill salmon pairs beautifully with green beans, asparagus, or a light salad.


Snacks:

  • Greek Yogurt with Honey and Chia Seeds - A creamy snack that's rich in protein and calcium.

  • Mixed Nuts - A handful of mixed nuts to keep you energized throughout the day.


 

Vegan


Breakfast:

  • Vegan Smoothie Bowl - A blend of bananas, spinach, almond milk, and chia seeds topped with granola and fresh fruit. A power-packed start to your day.

Lunch:

  • Chickpea Salad with Avocado and Lemon Dressing - A refreshing salad made with chickpeas, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a tangy lemon dressing. High in protein and healthy fats.

Dinner:

A hearty bowl of vegan lentil soup served with rustic vegan bread.

Vegan Lentil Soup

1 cup dried lentils

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 bell pepper (any color), diced

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

6 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 bay leaf

2 cups spinach, roughly chopped

juice of 1 lemon

fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish


Instructions:

Rinse the lentils thoroughly under cold water and set aside.In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and bell pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 5-7 minutes.Add the lentils, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add the spinach and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the lemon juice.


Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley or cilantro if desired.


Snacks:

  • Vegan Energy Balls - Made with dates, nuts, and cocoa powder. A sweet treat without the guilt.

  • Hummus with Carrot Sticks - A protein-rich snack that's perfect for dipping.


 

Gluten-Free

Breakfast:

  • Gluten-Free Pancakes with Maple Syrup - Fluffy pancakes made without gluten, served with a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Lunch:

  • Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables - A delicious salad made with quinoa, roasted bell peppers, zucchini, and a light olive oil dressing.

Dinner:

A bowl of gluten free chicken curry with sweet potatoes.

Gluten-Free Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 cup chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

1 lime, cut into wedges (for serving)


Instructions:

In a large pot or deep skillet, heat the coconut oil or olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger, and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the chicken pieces to the pot and brown them on all sides.Sprinkle the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and chili powder over the chicken. Stir well to coat the chicken evenly with the spices. Add the diced sweet potatoes to the pot and stir. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken broth. Stir to combine.Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the sweet potatoes are tender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm in bowls, garnished with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime on the side.


Snacks:

  • Gluten-Free Granola Bars - Packed with oats, nuts, and dried fruits.

  • Fresh Fruit Salad - A mix of your favorite fruits, chopped and served fresh.


 

Keto

Breakfast:

  • Keto Avocado Toast - A low-carb toast topped with mashed avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkle of feta cheese.

Lunch:

  • Keto Chicken Caesar Salad - A classic Caesar salad made with grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, and a creamy Caesar dressing, minus the croutons.

Dinner:

A tasty plate of Keto friendly beef stir fry with broccoli and green snap peas.

Keto Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli

1 lb beef steak (sirloin or flank), thinly sliced

2 tablespoons coconut oil or avocado oil

1 medium bell pepper, sliced

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup snap peas, trimmed

1/4 cup green onions, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, grated

2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon erythritol or stevia (optional, for a touch of sweetness)

Red pepper flakes (to taste, optional for added heat)

Salt and pepper to taste

Sesame seeds and additional sliced green onions for garnish (optional)


Instructions: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce or tamari, sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, erythritol or stevia, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.Heat the coconut oil or avocado oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.Add the thinly sliced beef to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.In the same skillet, add a bit more oil if needed. Add the bell pepper, broccoli, and snap peas. Stir-fry for about 3-5 minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly softened but still crisp.Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and stir-fry for another minute.Return the beef to the skillet and pour the sauce mixture over the top. Stir well to combine and ensure everything is well-coated. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until everything is heated through.


Garnish with sesame seeds and additional sliced green onions, if desired.

Serve immediately.


Snacks:

  • Keto Cheese Crisps - Crispy cheese baked to perfection.

  • Olives and Cheese - A simple yet satisfying keto-friendly snack.


 

FAQs


Can nutrition really enhance my design skills?

Absolutely. A well-nourished brain is agile, focused, and more prone to bursts of creativity.



Do I need to follow a super strict diet for better creativity?

Not necessarily strict, but a balanced diet full of diverse and wholesome foods is what’s key.



Do I need to take supplements?

Supplements can be beneficial for those who have specific deficiencies or particular dietary restrictions that make it challenging to get all the necessary nutrients from food alone.Supplements like Omega-3s, B Vitamin Complexes, Vitamin D and iron supplements can be considered. However, it's always best to aim to get your nutrients from whole foods because they provide a balanced nutritional profile including fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds. Before starting any supplement, consult with a healthcare professional to ensure it's appropriate for your individual needs and doesn't interfere with any medications or conditions you might have.


This is your call to action to prioritize your well-being, unlock your creativity and elevate your designs. The interconnectedness of mind, body and innovative strength is evident and a holistic, nutrient-dense approach plays an imperative role in your success in the industry.




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