Why you need to make time to eat and commit to eating healthy (more often than not) whenever you can.
Yes, we all have challenges when it comes to eating healthy, especially when on the road or working “in the zone“.
In fact, the zone is a deadly spot for me because, as much as I love working there, I usually forget all about food and don’t eat anything at all (which is actually worse than eating less than ideal food choices).
I can’t even remember how many diets I’ve read about that call for eating three meals and two snacks a day. I get it but I’m telling you it isn’t happening here unless I plan for it and have everything already on my desk! Unlike Oprah, there’s no personal chef taking care of my nutritional requirements day after day. (I do fantasize about it though. You?)
Ironically, when you’re working in a highly productive mode, eating strategically is even more critical for maintaining peak performance! Your working brain demands fuel being the largest user of glucose! And, as much as I’m against multi-tasking and know its negative effect on IQ, I’m still guilty of doing it from time to time. You probably are as well. (At least I’m multi-tasking less than ever before. You should be too.)
Did you know multi-tasking drops your IQ more points than smoking marijuana? I was surprised to learn that.
(In 2002, a Carleton University study found that marijuana usage dropped smokers’ IQ by 4 points. The HP study discovered that when distracted by phone calls and e-mails, the average worker’s functioning IQ dropped 10 points. The IQ drop when multitasking is also equivalent to losing an entire night’s sleep.)
The reality of being an entrepreneur or business owner is you won’t always have time for regular meals, good or bad. But there are two times in your day when it’s essential to fuel up your brain and timing is important: within an hour of waking and mid-afternoon you must eat! No excuses.
1. First meal of the day — Skipping breakfast isn’t just bad for children, it’s bad for you too. It can reduce your mental sharpness and productivity by 50 to 75 percent. Do not take meetings or negotiate deals if you haven’t had a strategic breakfast within an hour of waking.
That means lay off the carbs and go for clean proteins or protein-enhanced fresh (not sweetened) juices. One of my favourite options is a Spanish omelet (loaded with veggies). If you can’t even look at an egg in the morning, or any other time for that matter, greek yogurt with flax and blackberries is an alternative as is salmon. Fruit and nuts on steel cut oatmeal is another option.
The objective here is to optimize the function of neurotransmitters needed for concentration and recall. (I learned about this subsequent to my brain injury and it really does make a difference.)
By the way, I know a lot of folks like to go for multi-grain options but I recently saw a study that proved, for many people, multi-grain breads increase blood sugars higher than eating a candy bar! You want to keep your blood sugars under control and stable, so tread carefully here. Sugar is a pervasive beast! Just ask Jorge Cruise.
2. Mid-afternoon snack — Between lunch (which you will probably miss) and dinner (which is likely a great many hours after breakfast) you’re going to exhaust your glucose and glycogen stores yet you still need plenty of brain power for decision-making and to finish your day strong. Not just any snack will do either.
This is the time of day to choose high fibre combined with another quick hit of protein. I like to go with green apples and cheese, hummus and cucumber, or a handful of nuts (which I also keep in my pockets, purse, and car for when I’m on the run between meetings and not inclined to stop and take 5 (another bad habit of mine, I know)). I don’t do protein smoothies at this time of day but that’s a personal choice. You might prefer having them now rather than using them to kickstart your day. Some people even drink them two and three times a day!
I’m not saying lunch and dinner aren’t important meals that you need to choose carefully as well, if you’re eating them (and I’m more often not). Only that if you can’t commit to lunch and dinner on a consistent and regular basis, these are the two best times to practice strategic eating regardless of how you roll with your other meals!