As an entrepreneur, you’re used to making sacrifices for your success. But all too often, those sacrifices include your health. You tell yourself you don’t have time to exercise or eat right because you’re always on the go. You have a business to run. Getting to the gym or the grocery store is the last thing on your mind, and a healthy lunch (or lunch in general) is often the first thing to go.
But high-performance people need high-performance bodies, and you can’t achieve peak performance if you don’t take the time to fuel yourself properly. In one study of workplace health, employees with unhealthy diets were 66 percent more likely to report a loss in productivity.
Plus, when you skip lunch, you run the risk of becoming more irritable and aggressive (“hangry”) because of low blood sugar.
Working a quality lunch into your day will help improve your overall health, make you more productive and help you be a better boss or co-worker. Here are a few simple strategies for making health-smart lunches when you’re crunched for time:
1. Learn what not to eat.
In an effort to save time, many entrepreneurs will scarf down whatever is convenient just to feel “full” and move on to the next task. Baked goods seem like an easy on-the-go option, but their high-fat, high-sugar makeup is bad for your health and your performance.
Deli sandwiches made with processed meats are another popular lunch option, but these are literally junk. Processed meats are made from discarded meat scraps and include chemicals and fillers, and they’re terrible for your body.
And if you think you’re being healthy by reaching for a meal replacement bar, think again. Most are essentially candy bars with a few oats, and if you go this route, you must choose carefully.
In the end, your goal should be to build lunches around lean protein (such as grilled chicken breast or salmon) and fresh vegetables. Instead of filling up on bread, opt for brown rice or quinoa instead. And if you get hungry between meals, reach for a healthy snack such as unsalted nuts instead of chips or cookies.
2. Shop the perimeter.
Thinking of hitting the café down the street because it’s more time-efficient than shopping and cooking? Well, here’s a grocery-shopping strategy for all you productivity nuts: Focus on the perimeter of the store. That’s where you’ll find all the fresh vegetables, fruits and meats -- perishable foods that have genuine nutritional value.
Plus, you’ll save time winding through the aisles and avoid getting trapped between somebody’s cart and a wall of Doritos.
3. Schedule food prep, not meals.
Instead of trying to schedule time to prepare and eat healthy meals every day, schedule time for food prep before your workweek begins.
Plan your meals at least three days out, and cook them all at once. Make food you can easily prepare in bulk. Bake enough chicken for three days, make a big pot of rice or quinoa or chop up a supply of finger foods such as cucumbers or carrots. Once you have lunches prepared, you simply have to take them with you to work.
4. Grab and go.
Get a set of Tupperware or Ziploc containers, and pre-pack your food so everything is ready to go when you leave for work in the morning. A cooler bag is another inexpensive investment that can make healthy eating more manageable.
Lunch might seem insignificant, but it’s often the little things that matter most in business. As an entrepreneur, you need every edge you can get. Don’t let a box of stale donuts eat into your potential. Use high-performance lunches to build a high-performance body. With the right strategies in place, making time for healthy meals is a snap.
Do you have any healthy-lunch strategies? Let us know in the comments section below.