We know how hard you work (and play!) as a young entrepreneur. High achievers like you need to stay focused, creative, and alert for most of the day, right? When you have to balance school, family, friends, and your small business startup, you need all the energy you can get.
One of the best ways to keep your mind sharp, your body energized, and your mood stable is also one of the easiest things you can do. Healthy eating provides the fuel you need to feel better without the many downsides you might get from junk food. It’s not even about losing weight or being skinny. It’s about feeling better and performing better in all areas of your life.
Of course, most of us know that healthier food choices are important. It’s one thing to know this. It’s quite another to act on it. When fast food, vending machines, and quick fixes are all around you, why go out of your way to make a healthier choice?
Don’t panic, and don’t beat yourself up. We’re here with a few simple things you can do to make eating healthier a no-brainer.
FILL UP ON GOOD PROTEINS
Protein is your secret weapon, especially in the mornings. Some benefits of filling up on protein include:
- It cuts down on your hunger hormones, so you feel fuller longer
- Increasing the number of calories you burn per day
- It helps you retain muscle mass
Try having eggs for breakfast to supercharge your day. No time? Fried or scrambled eggs (cooked in healthy olive oil) cook up quickly. Refrigerate hard-boiled and peeled eggs ahead of time.
Allergic to eggs? Vegan? Beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts are all excellent sources of protein. Meat-eaters can choose fish (which is also full of Omega-3, a natural anti-depressant and stress-reducer) or lean cuts of chicken, beef, or pork.
Think of protein as the power-up start to your day!
WHOLE GRAINS > PROCESSED GRAINS
We know, white bread is so soft and delicious. It’s also full of sugar and yucky preservatives. A smart young entrepreneur like you doesn’t need that junk holding you back.
What you do need is fiber, as well as power minerals and complex carbohydrates. For your sandwiches, avoid breads, pastas, and other starches that say things like “enriched” on their labels. Instead, choose breads and pastas made with whole grains.
If you like granola or cereal, check the ingredients label to make sure the one you choose isn’t full of sugar. And eat brown rice instead of white rice.
Seriously. This is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your mind and body. Drinking plenty of water throughout your day can:
- Keep you from being thirsty, which means you won’t reach for sodas or processed juices as much
- Energize your muscles
- Clean your body of toxins
If you don’t like plain water, add a lemon wedge, cucumber slice, or other pieces of fresh fruit for flavor. Try sparkling water if you miss soda.
Pick out a water bottle you love, fill it up in the mornings, and carry it with you all day. Take a sip before and after each class. Invest in a water filter pitcher at home or a water filter bottle so you can refill at school. Or make your own water bottle – your classmates may love it, and there’s your next business idea!
How are you going to conquer the world as a young entrepreneur on an empty stomach? That’s like trying to launch a rocket without fuel.
There’s a good reason why your mother tells you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A breakfast full of vitamins and minerals (and low in sugar and fat) revs up your internal engines so you can start the day on the right foot.
However, we know mornings can be rough, especially for teen entrepreneurs. Plan ahead by either cooking your meals the night before to be reheated in the morning, or having your ingredients sliced, diced, and ready to cook.
High-fiber, whole-grain, low-sugar cereals with skim milk are also good for you. Or throw a handful of delicious, fresh berries into a bowl of Greek or low-sugar yogurt. Just make sure the grocery shopper in your home knows to buy these things!
CUT THE FAT OUT OF YOUR DAIRY
This is another very simple substitution you can make in your diet. You may not even notice the change, either! Choose 2% milk instead of whole milk; 1% over 2%; or skim over 1%.
When you eat yogurt, check the sugar and fat content. Choose lower-fat cream cheese for your bagels (which are whole grain, right?). Eat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. Add skim milk to your coffee instead of cream.
A few small changes to the dairy you consume can add up to a major difference in how you feel.
CUT SUGAR AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
There are so many articles out there telling us why white, refined sugar is bad for you. It increases your risk of cancer and Type-2 diabetes. It leads to obesity and heart disease. It rots your teeth. And, let’s face it, young entrepreneurs can’t function if their energy levels are constantly crashing due to sugar highs and lows.
Avoiding all sugars all the time is pretty much impossible. Fresh fruits are full of natural sugars and can easily satisfy your sweet tooth. Those are fine and are actually good for you!
Get into the habit of checking the ingredients on things you consume. Look for words like “fructose,” “high fructose corn syrup,” “added sugar,” or “cane sugar.” These are sweeteners that have been added to the food to make it sweeter.
Can’t quite curb that sweet tooth? Try a natural sugar substitute.
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Making healthy choices shouldn’t stress you out. Start small. Take sips of water as often as you can. Get yourself used to that, then move on to natural sugar substitutes.
As with so many other aspects of young entrepreneurship, the key to making healthier choices is to make a plan and take it one step at a time. Trying to overhaul your entire diet all at once is like trying to make a profit from your enterprise before you have a business plan. And remember that even small steps count as progress.
You don’t have to give up all sweets and treats. Making a few changes here and there might be all you need to keep your energy up. At the end of the day, we want you to feel your best. By giving your mind and body the highest-quality fuel you can, you’ll be the best young entrepreneur you can be!
Young entrepreneurs who attend high school in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we offer and how to apply.