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Feeding the Entrepreneur in the Workplace

Kaitlin Long

Kaitlin LongMost people know the benefits of healthy eating. We know the obesity statistics in America, and the age old saying that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" Even with all this knowledge, most days I’m lucky if I make it out the door with some sort of breakfast in one hand, and a cup of coffee in another. Lunch is hit or miss depending on how much time I had to pack it-varying from leftover pizza to a nice salad. By late-afternoon I’ve had it and am in dire need of a serious energy boost I turn to whatever is lying around the office, which tends to be cookies, candy, or something else with about 60,000 grams of sugar, but hey it does the trick for the last hour of the day.

Entrepreneurs are famous (or perhaps infamous) for odd and extra-long work hours. Sixteen plus hour days are not unusual, but according to the experts, your brain quits operating at its maximum potential after two hours. With ideas to validate, clients to seek out, and products to market, how on earth can entrepreneurs stay alert and focused into the wee hours of the night...or morning?

Earlier this week I stumbled upon “It’s True: You Are What You Eat” by Adam Bluestein. The basis of the article is that leaders and entrepreneurs need to feed their brains, and feed their brains right. As silly as it sounds, our brains are only as useful as we allow them to be. In terms of productivity, there are foods that slow us down and foods that help us accomplish more. Bluestein’s article suggests that we are athletes in the workplace and should eat as such. After reading the research, here are my top 2 take-aways that I plan to implement:

  1. My pre-coffee experience in the mornings feels like the Claritin commercials before the actor is “Claritin clear”-foggy and slow. Two cups in the morning partnered with a cup mid-afternoon is my norm, and probably isn’t too far off the daily routine of many entrepreneurs either. Bluestein’s article got me thinking that my caffeine intake should be a high priority. With the brain being 70-80 percent water, dehydrating it can prevent the breakdown of metabolic waste, reduce memory, and increase anxiety!

  2. My goal: Drink two glasses of water for every one cup of coffee/tea. Added benefit: getting out of the office chair to walk to the bathroom frequently. I sat in on a health and fitness workshop last month and learned that sitting for more than 3 hours a day can shave two years off your life. Therefore, I’ve decided that frequent bathroom breaks are totally worth it.

  3.  I don’t know when it became frowned upon to bring Ziploc baggies of food everywhere you go, but it needs to make a comeback. Another article by Leo Widrich states that the brain is most productive with 25 grams of glucose-the amount in a banana. Having a huge lunch can over stimulate the brain and send you in a spike of productivity, but more times than not it will also bring you spiraling back down. Solution: Choices are important when it comes to food, but so is timing. Cut the large lunch and spread it out into a mid-morning and afternoon snack. The smaller amounts of glucose will keep you going longer and feeling fresher than eating that burrito all in one sitting.
  4. EatHealthy_Berries

    My goal: Don’t skip the breakfast and bring a regular sized lunch that I can just snack on throughout the day. Bonus points include bringing super brain foods such as carrots, almonds, dark chocolate, and blueberries.

Drinking more water and giving our brains a boost of a healthy snack during the day are easy fixes that entrepreneurs can use to keep themselves going during that 3 p.m. team meeting about product development. Keeping your body alert and working during the right hours, might just cut those 16 hour days to 12 hour days…or at least 14 hours at least.

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