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Want a healthy business? Be a healthy founder.


As a Registered Dietitian, I’ve coached hundreds of people at the scale. But talking to an entrepreneur about what they ate for lunch is like opening the floodgates.

When I reveal the fact that I’m a Dietitian, startup founders are the first to confess some sort of dietary sin. They are open and brutally honest about their health struggles. Speaking of confessions, I’m writing this blog while recovering from the flu. I pushed myself extremely hard at the end of 2015. I didn’t get enough rest, I lived on lattes, and I didn’t make time to get a flu shot. Even as a licensed health professional, I have to work at making my health a priority.

Ever since my husband launched his own startup, I’ve had a front row seat observing the rollercoaster of emotions, sleepless nights, and stress that go hand in hand with being a startup founder. I’ve seen how being focused on building a business often causes entrepreneurs to neglect other areas in their life, including their health. Throughout our startup journey we’ve learned that taking care of business starts by taking care of ourselves.

Sleep matters

If Netflix is asking you if you’re still there, you might need to turn that off and get some rest. Entrepreneurs have binging habits. We binge when we work, we binge when we watch TV, and we binge when we party. It’s important to listen to your body, especially when it’s telling you to rest.

Sustainable burritos still have calories

Hey, that’s great if you care about where your food comes from. However, that “organic free-range lunch” is still loaded with calories and sodium. So, don’t forget to check the nutrition facts.

Science > Sensationalism

Tech entrepreneurs often pride themselves in sharing science, but it seems like science is ignored when it comes to good nutrition. I find that many listen to diet advice from influencers on Instagram instead of people with credentials. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if any diet plan insists that you give up fruits and vegetables, that’s definitely a red flag.

Share your stats

Health tech makes it even easier for us to track data. Your startup believes you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Build on that competitive spirit by taking part in daily step challenges with friends. Tracking your weight, nutrition, and daily steps is a great place to start, but don’t forget about other important numbers including your blood pressure, waist circumference, and cholesterol.

“Taking care of business starts by taking care of ourselves”

Slow down on the alcohol

I don’t know how many times I’ve sat across from an entrepreneur and they’ve told me all about their super healthy diet while drinking a Red Bull and Vodka. At the end of the day, all calories count… even those from alcoholic beverages.

Support your team

If somebody in your company wants to make healthy changes in their life, support and celebrate that. Be mindful of snacks you bring into the office and schedule walking meetings when appropriate. The startup community here has been amazing at supporting one another. It’s time to also support healthy attitudes and behaviors when it comes to food, alcohol, sleep, and activity.

Sunday meal prep

Grocery shopping and meal planning is something I usually do on Sundays, but you can pick any day that works for you. Even if you don’t have time to meal plan, having food like fruits, veggies, shredded chicken, and brown rice prepped in your fridge can make it super easy to enjoy a nutritious meal.

Start now

There’s no time like the present to take better care of yourself. If you feel like you’ve got the exercise and healthy eating plan under control, what about your mental or spiritual health? When’s the last time you visited the dentist or had a physical? It’s important to remember that health is more than a number on the scale.

Amber Pankonin aka “RD amber” is a Registered Dietitian and nutrition communications consultant based in Lincoln, Nebraska. She specializes in social media consulting, recipe development, freelance writing, and food photography. Amber shares her love for food and nutrition at Stirlist.com, a blog that educates consumers about agriculture through recipes.

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