Diet for Entrepreneurs: best foods for emotional regulation to never quit your hard goals.
Simple tips from a performance coach/nutritionist.
Have you ever had a meal, some food to make yourself feel better?
In my 17 years in nutrition coaching, I’ve never met a client who never had a meal to feel good. Food is one of the most powerful tools to change our mental and emotional state. In fact, we all were conditioned since our childhood to use food as a pacifier to “quiet our distress”, as Wikipedia mentions.
Is it really that surprising that as adults we still have this habit?
Food can kill, food can heal, and food is what we are made of, cell by cell.
It becomes problematic when we use food as a way to hide from our problems by making ourselves feel better for a moment and not taking any action to address the situation, that created distress in our life in the first place — the very reason why distressing emotion came up. That’s when food can delay our life’s progress and can keep us stuck in the same place in life and business. That’s when it becomes a problem when it could have been a solution.
Emotional eating VS Emotional regulation
I differentiate these 2.
Emotional eating is when we eat to numb and change difficult emotions without addressing the issue causing them. Emotional regulation on the other hand is about using food to help yourself recover, reduce stress, replenish resources with an intention to get stronger to go and resolve the issue, by taking often uncomfortable but effective actions — having a difficult conversation, making a difficult decision, taking the next step in business, when everything seems to be collapsing and you just want to hide under the blanket. Food can make us better fitted for a challenging goal instead of adding pounds of excess weight and health complications to our existing discomforts.
Here are a few simple eating principles we practice with my clients to get through tough times stronger, more resilient, fitter, with results to show.
As Alex Hormozi says, “It’s not about eliminating bad days, it’s about knowing how to get through them without losing the progress from the good ones”.
The right kind of food can help with this.
FOODS TO REDUCE ANXIETY AND STRESS
Junk food can give you a pleasure rush — but it isn’t lasting.
And very often, what will come back to you after all the pleasure brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine wear off — increased self-doubt, all the problems and issues you tried to escape, and possible health complications that will make all issues more difficult to solve.
Is it really something you want in the long run?
From my personal experience — not at all.
These foods below have been shown in many studies and research to long-term and acutely reduce inflammation and stress levels, lower anxiety. This means they will help you feel and do better, strengthening your ability to cope with life. They will not give you a huge spike of feel-good chemicals in the moment but long-term, with regular consumption, your well-being will improve, as will your ability to make better long-term decisions (Higher stress levels contribute to impulsive, knee-jerk decisions and actions).
High in antioxidants and fiber foods: berries, especially blueberries, beans, especially chickpeas, fruit especially, bananas and apples;
Foods high in many vitamins and minerals: green and colorful veggies especially spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, carrots, tomatoes;
Omega 3 fish: sardines, salmon, herring, mackerel, and brainy nuts with essential for healthy brain fats like walnuts;
Fermented foods with probiotics (without added sugar): yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles.
FOOD-BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE WITH SEROTONIN
Higher serotonin levels correlate with higher confidence levels.
Serotonin is a chemical that gets a boost every time our social status gets a boost. Serotonin also a chemical of calmness and peace of mind, emotional well-being. Serotonin is higher in happier people and lower in people with depression.
When we are going through stressful times — serotonin gets a hit.
And we naturally want to boost it fast with high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat foods, that work in the moment but then make our serotonin plummet, leaving us with self-doubts, self-loathing, and lack of confidence that we actually need to get things done.
What’s the solution?
Use foods that will naturally help you restore serotonin levels short and long-term, helping you to take confident, effective action.
Sources of protein rich in tryptophan, the amino acid serotonin is made of: chicken and turkey, meat and fish, and other animal protein foods — the best sources; tofu is the best plant-based source.
Carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods: especially sweet potatoes, bananas, chickpeas.
Fermented foods mentioned above.
FOOD-BOOST ENERGY, MOTIVATION AND FOCUS WITH DOPAMINE
Dopamine is the king, the driver of all human pursuits.
Without dopamine, we can’t do anything! Dopamine-deficient mice wouldn’t even try to eat food when all they had to do is move across the cage. Dopamine thrives on progress, rewards, reaching goals, and it plummets when we go through setbacks.
We need dopamine to move forward, to get the energy to take action.
And yet when we feel down — dopamine goes down too, leaving us feeling powerless.
Processed food gives you a dopamine rush. You feel good, in fact too good to do anything. Processed foods trick your brain into thinking you already have it all, taking the edge of discomfort so much that you end up doing nothing.
The solution is to eat foods that will boost your dopamine just enough to keep you going.
Protein foods rich in tyrosine, the amino acid dopamine is made of, foods that happen to also be the same foods I mentioned above for tryptophan — chicken and turkey, animal-based protein and tofu;
Other dopamine-boosting foods: a piece of dark chocolate, turmeric spice, fatty fish and probiotics, blueberries, nuts and seeds mentioned above.
The other day I got this feeling of defeat almost.
I haven’t hit any of my business goals in 2022. It seems like I had one setback after another the whole year. It feels like it’s been a learning experience every single day!
I went roller-blading to change my blood chemistry and emotional state, and then I had one of my favorite no-cooking meals to recover physically and mentally and get after it again.
I had: some tuna with baby carrots, some walnuts, a couple of bananas with yogurt and cacao powder.
I woke up feeling fresh, full of energy, drive and confidence to take the next step forward. Day one. Let’s go.
HOW TO MAKE EATING BETTER YOUR NEW HABIT INSTEAD OF EATING PROCESSED FOODS
Food can help you do better in life. End of story.
Of course, the challenge for a lot of us, is to change of habits, breaking the old patterns of eating comfort, processed foods to feel immediately better, and instead choose these healthier, brain-body boosting options.
How do you go about solving this?
The easiest way to start a new habit, any habit — change your environment, making what you want to do easy and what you want to avoid difficult.
Buy, prepare, make it easy to grab and eat the options of foods/meals I gave you here and eliminate the rest, sabotaging foods from your immediate environment like your house. And you’ll be surprised how easier things get. This practice is in all the best books on habits like, “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear or “Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything” by BJ Fogg, PhD and many others. They work.
TO DO NOW:
▶️Read my article on foods for flow states to get into your genius zone of 2x-5x productivity, “Eat These 3 Breakfast Foods to Improve Your Focus” on Entrepreneur Media;
▶️Schedule our call to figure out what lifestyle and eating habits hold you back from achieving your goals faster and what you can do about it;
▶️Join our retreat this March in Bansko to master high-performance habits and lifestyle — Grow together to Thrive together. Angela Shurina and Uwe Allgäuer
😃Thank you for reading! Brought to you by your brain’s coach — Angela Shurina, committed to sustainable productivity and human potential.
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