Fueling the Side Hustle: Nutritional Boost for the Brain and Bod.

Hey, entrepreneurial and fabulous females! Let me guess.  You’re busy. You’re juggling about 14 different projects right now and they all require attention, energy and focus.  Your time is on a budget, sleep isn’t the greatest, and who has time to cook?!

Well, you wouldn’t expect your vehicle to take you places if you didn’t fill it with gas or zap it with electricity, wouldja?  Then you can’t expect the same of your body and brain.  

Here’s five easy ways to fuel your brain and bod so you can be set up for the success you are destined for.

1. Eat something (with protein) before noon. I get it, some of y’all are not “breakfast people”. It’s ok. You don’t have to wake up and pour yourself a bowl of raisin bran as you are still wiping the goop from your eyes.  However, one of the best things you can do to get your body energized and your brain alert is to nosh on a little something in the first few hours post waking.  First off, this gets your metabolism going, but most importantly provides you with the nutrients that actually power your brain.  Yes, your brain needs calories. But a big carb bomb isn’t always the best solution.  Getting in 15 grams of protein can help with balancing blood sugar and ensures that you have what you need to produce those all-important neurotransmitters for optimal concentration and mood regulation. It doesn’t have to be complicated: Oatmeal with nuts and seeds; 2 hardboiled eggs with a piece of fruit, Greek yogurt with blueberries, smoked salmon and avocado on whole grain bread are all options. Maybe it’s a traditional or cultural food that is familiar to you. Eat something.  It helps you get off to a better start.

2. Don’t go too long between meals. Boy, it’s easy to get hangry when your last meal was 6 hours ago. No wonder you just snapped at your partner and started chewing on your sleeve.  When blood sugar drops, the brain gets peeved and can make you moody, unfocused and downright unpleasant to be around.  This also has an impact on your ability to be productive. Nobody needs that, do they? Don’t power through it. “Let me just do one more thing!”, you say, and before you know it, you’ve spent 37 minutes trying to craft one sentence.  Get up. Grab something.  Keep snacks nearby or in your bag/car/computer case/bra, I don’t care, just have something at the ready.  Chances are the longer you wait to eat, the more likely you’re going to choose the entire plate of nachos and a piece of cheese cake over the salad and lentil soup, (which can be super delicious too, I promise!)

3. Swap out the sweets and chips for the heartier snacks. It’s common to reach for the chocolate chip cookie/Frappuccino/Cheetos in order to get that quick hit of energy, but ultimately that energy isn’t super sustainable and can wind up robbing us of the nutrients that actually keep us going. This isn’t to say thou shalt never eat a scone again, but see if you can shoot for something that may still be energizing but a bit more nutritiously dense like a banana or apple smothered in nut butter, a Lara Bar, a handful of nuts and dried fruit or even some roasted chick peas for that crunchity crunch you might be jonesin’ for.  Plus, if you got a craving that won’t quit, look at your last meal.  Was there sufficient protein, fat and fiber to keep you satiated?  Very often, it’s just about ensuring the balance of our meals that helps keep that pesky sweet tooth at bay.

4. Stay hydrated! Fluids are critical for keeping our cells hydrated, our joints lubricated and our elimination process smooth and easy. If you haven’t consumed enough liquid during the day, your brain will let you know, and it’s likely you’ll feel a touch more sluggish. This is when headaches arise and cravings can set in.  Be sure you have a water bottle with you or some herbal tea around.  Coffee and caffeinated tea are definitely options (I loves me my green tea!) Just be sure you also have some non-caffeinated options available too.  This can be a great way to add in some extra nutrients.  Bored by the taste of water?  Toss a splash of juice, a squeeze of lemon or an herbal tea bag into your glass for a little extra flavah. Worried you’ll just have to pee more?  Get over it. Gives you a great excuse to stretch your gams and unglue your eyeballs from your screen.

5. Eat some freakin’ vegetables! You say you want energy. This is truly your ticket. Not sure if you remember that whole photosynthesis thing from 3rd grade, but plants hang out and create energy from the sun and when we eat them, we reap the benefits of that harvested energy. Not only are they rich in vitamins and minerals, but they contain plant chemicals (good stuff, not the like the ingredient list on your Windex) that can help fend off disease.  You don’t need to be a brilliant chef to get a couple more servings daily.  Start by just adding them to things you are already eating: spinach or mushrooms in your scrambled eggs, extra tomato or cucumber in your sammy/wrap/tortilla, chopped peppers in your soup, stew or spaghetti, or simply munch on some crudité as a snack.  If you are one of those folks who claim celery has no flavor, dip it into hummus, tahini or salsa and start your crunch fest.  And no excuses about how hard it is to chop these nutritional gems.  Every grocery store has beat you to it. Buy those little buddies and eat them. Your body will thank you.


If you are left with questions (“What is 15 grams of protein?” “What’s a good brand of herbal tea?”) feel free to reach out to me at mary@marypurdy.co

About the Contributor:

Mary Purdy, MS, RDN, is an integrative eco-dietitian who holds a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition from Bastyr University where she has been adjunct faculty since 2015. She has provided nutrition and lifestyle counseling for over 12 years, given 100+ nutrition workshops, and speaks nationally at health and nutrition conferences on nutrition and sustainable food systems. She is also the host of the podcast “The Nutrition Show” and author of the books “Serving the Broccoli Gods” and “The Microbiome Diet Reset” She loves all vegetables except zucchini and yellow squash which she avoids at all costs. Her website is http://marypurdy.co/ or you can find her on IG or FB @marypurdyrd