How Sugar Is Sabotaging Your Success as an Entrepreneur
We don't consider how our food choices are actually making us much less effective.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Successful entrepreneurs know that a disciplined and dedicated work ethic is critical to building their businesses. It takes commitment to set goals, meet deadlines and learn quickly from our mistakes, but too many of us are pulling the rug out from under ourselves every single day by the dietary choices we make. We work long, hard hours, and, if we're not careful, we find ourselves taking shortcuts and choosing convenience over health.
We get accustomed to cranking up our energy with a fast food meal, energy drink or candy bar. Deep down we know that these are unhealthy choices, but what we don't consider is how our food choices are actually making us much less effective and are sabotaging our success.
Related: To Optimize Your Performance Cut Out the Sugar
I recently sat down with Raquel Baldelomar, founder and CEO of the national healthcare marketing firm, Quaintise, and co-author with Dr. Richard Jacoby of the new book, Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Reverse Nerve Damage, and Reclaim Good Health, just published from HarperCollins in April 2015.
As a successful marketing and advertising agency owner, Baldelomar has firsthand experience with how quickly sugar interferes with our ability to focus, destroys the sustained energy we need to build a successful business and creates chronic health problems that sap our attention and well-being.
Sugar's impact is not always obvious.
Focus and discipline are essential to creating success in life, but both of these qualities require a clear mind. I asked Baldelomar how she came to fully recognize the negative impact sugar was having in her life and on her business.
"In the early years of starting Quaintise, I was working hard but found that I was riding an energy roller coaster every day," she says. "I tried to eat the right food to stay healthy and get me through my days: orange juice and whole grain cereal for breakfast, granola and fruit for snacks, and a sandwich for lunch. I rarely ate candy or cake, but still, I'd be ravenous by mid-day and then I'd hit an energy low in late afternoon that would have me dragging. I just didn't realize what was draining my energy and making it harder for me to do everything I needed to do to build my business."
Fortuitously, she was building her business in healthcare marketing and began working with Jacoby, who had been studying the impact of sugar on our bodies. He'd seen the rapid increase in patients with peripheral neuropathy and diabetes in the last several decades of his practice and wanted to understand the root cause.
Related: Avoid These 5 Common Office Snack Foods That Could Harm Your Health
"Dr. Jacoby found that sugar causes inflammation of our blood vessels, which leads to swelling, reduced blood flow and nerve constriction," Baldelomar says. "The highs and lows of blood sugar spikes and drops in energy that I was experiencing were really warning signs that my diet was not only working against my ability to do my best work, it was likely destroying my long-term health."
Baldelomar began to look more closely at her diet and realized that sugar was everywhere, not only in the obvious foods such as candy, cakes and doughnuts. She discovered that all of the starchy carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, rice and cereal were really just sugar in another form.
"I saw a cycle that many entrepreneurs fall into," she says. "When you are young, you exchange health to gain your wealth. And then when you have it, you exchange your wealth to gain back your health."
Break the sugar addiction.
"Working with Dr. Jacoby opened my eyes into how brainwashed we've been by misinformation," Baldelomar says. "I learned how to incorporate good fats and eliminate sugar, and the difference in my energy levels and my focus were immediately apparent."
How difficult was it to cut out sugar?
"It was a little challenging at first because, like most of us, I was addicted to sugar, but the rewards were immediately worth it," she says. "I now stay focused and am able to work long hours without feeling those energy highs and lows throughout the day. And the long-term benefits means I'll have many more years to thrive and grow my business."
As a former professional athlete, I know that mental and physical strength depend a whole lot on diet, discipline and conditioning. The fact that we are undermining both our success as entrepreneurs and our long-term health without realizing it through our misguided notions about a healthy diet is eye-opening.