If you’re working in banking and are suffering from exhaustion, digestive problems or just general bloating, you may want to take some leaves from the lifestyle manuals of Christine Lagarde and Nassim Taleb.
Alice Mackintosh, a nutritional therapist at the Food Doctor Clinic in London, said people working in jobs like banking – where lunch is a sandwich snatched whilst staring at a screen – are particularly prone to bloat. “If you’re eating while looking at a screen you will often not chew properly and have problems digesting food,” MacKintosh told us. “This can cause fermentation, bloating and flatulence, which will affect your energy levels if you’re working long hours.”
One financial services professional who seems to have beaten the bloat and low energy risk is Christine Lagarde, the immaculately groomed managing director of the IMF. Lagarde told the Wall Street Journal she doesn’t drink. doesn’t smoke, doesn’t eat meat and does listen to her body – especially when she’s travelling across different time zones. “I don’t fight with my body anymore. When I sense that it needs a 10-minute doze, I let myself doze. I might sit in the back of a car and tell the person next to me just give me a break, don’t talk to me, I’m going to sleep,” Lagarde said.
Nassim Taleb: the paleo diet
Nassim Taleb, the trader and author, seems equally solicitous of his digestion. Taleb told the Guardian that he follows a ‘paleo diet’ – only eating easily digestible foods of the kind that a caveman would recognize. Sugar is out. So is Coca-Cola. Taleb fasts intermittently for 17 hours at a time, goes to bed at 8pm and gets up at 4am.
Banking health freaks and health fiascos
Bankers are advised to emulate Taleb and Lagarde, and to chew their food properly. “Digestion is very strongly linked to psyche,” said Mackintosh, who has given talks on nutrition to financial services clients.
The threat that banking poses to health is already well established. Alexandra Mitchell, a an ex-investment banking associate-turned assistant professor of management and organisation at the University of California, conducted a study of hundreds of corporate financiers and traders at two investment banks and found they tend to get locked into a cycle of bodily abuse simply to stay ahead of the game.
Geraint Anderson, the ex-equity researcher and author famous for his hedonistic portrayal of City life, said bank employees often fall into one of two categories. “You have the body fascists – the fitness fanatics who run to and from the office every day, and you have the heavy drinkers.” Comparatively few of the fitness fanatics were Britons, Anderson recalled.
Personal trainer Robert Dyer said bankers’ health and fitness tends to vary widely.”There’s a few bankers that I work with. One of them has trained for the marathon and is really fit, others are used to having boozy lunches and taking clients out – they drink a lot and do other things which I wouldn’t mention on the record.”
Banking professionals turn to take care of their health as they approach their sell-by date, said Dyer. “One day, they look around and notice they’re surrounded by young people,” he told us. “Suddenly they decide to do something about it.”
Working out is one option, so is eating carefully and getting sufficient sleep. Lagarde is 57. Taleb is 53. Bloated young bankers could do worse than emulating their clean living elders.