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CEO diets: Execs reveal which foods they eat for success

April 21, 2022, 8:49 PM UTC
Traditional apple pancakes or Aebleskiver in danish.
SigFig CEO Mike Sha is a fan of Aebleskiver.
Getty Images

Being a CEO is a high-pressure job, and occupational hazards include shorter lifespans and a higher risk for premature aging.

As a means of protection, many CEOs take their diets as seriously as their company’s earning reports, snacking strategically to protect their most valuable asset—their wellbeing.

Here’s what seven high-powered CEOs eat.

The breakfast of tech millionaires

The tech elite seem to be dining light in the mornings, with family breakfasts being a constant.

Mikael Berner, CEO at Edison Software, an email software company that utilizes AI technology, starts his day with a teaspoon of Icelandic cod liver oil and black coffee, then opts for club soda when he begins working. But he cooks his two toddlers waffles, pancakes or eggs seven days a week, and they dine together daily.

A single teaspoon of cod liver oil contains 90% of your daily requirements for vitamin A and 113% of your daily requirements for vitamin D. Vitamin D can alleviate brain fog, and studies have found that it both improves memory and cognitive function.

Health is wealth, according to Berner. “My food choices are fairly health conscious—an insurance policy for the future.” 

Mike Sha, the CEO of SigFig, a San Francisco-based fintech firm, admits to skipping breakfast on the weekdays, but indulges in Danish pancakes on the weekends with his family. 

“But on the weekends, it’s about a 100% request rate that the kids ask for aebleskivers,” Sha told Fortune. “They like them with chocolate chips and my wife likes them with melted cheddar so I can please everyone!”

Salad as a success marker

“During the period of time before Pave had revenue, my diet was based on Soylent and Huel,” Matt Shulman, founder and CEO of Pave, a compensation technology company, told Fortune. “During the holidays in 2019, I promised my parents that if we ever had more capital that I’d only eat Sweetgreen for the rest of my life.”

Pave’s valuation as of 2020 was $75 million, which affords Schulman a lifetime supply of salads. True to his word, Schulman typically has water for breakfast, a Sweetgreen Guacamole Greens salad for lunch and a Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl salad for dinner. 

Sweet potatoes—a main ingredient in Sweetgreen Harvest Bowls—contain 400% of your daily value of vitamin A, which supports immune function, and maintains healthy eyesight.  

Sara Margulis, CEO and co-founder, Honeyfund, a honeymoon and gift registry website, also prefers salads for lunch but for an entirely different reason.

“For lunch, my optimal meal is lean protein—chicken, fish, or shrimp—in a salad that has healthy fats like walnuts, avocado with homemade dressing,” Margulis told Fortune. “Lately I’ve been adding some protein powder as well to fuel my workouts and reduce the loss of muscle mass as I approach menopause.” 

The proteins of the highly profitable

Tech entrepreneur Sha opts for pork cheeks, oxtail, and beef tendons, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Erica Davis, CEO and co-founder of The Sip, a million dollar Black women-owned wine brand, favors lean proteins with lunch. She reaches for blackened salmon, brown rice and steamed broccoli paired with a glass of Prosecco from Pizzolato, on a typical workday. On Friday nights when Davis watches “Real Housewives” she indulges in decadent proteins like White Sturgeon Caviar from Caviar & Co.

Caviar is surprisingly good for you, as it promotes heart health, and staves off depression thanks to rich omega-3 fatty acids.  

Graydon Moffat, the CEO and founder of Graydon Skincare, a clean beauty brand focused on superfood ingredients, prefers to DIY her meals and likes to get her nutrients from bone broth and tempeh.

“I usually have a selection of steamed greens simmered in bone broth topped with a protein rich carb like sprouted quinoa,” Moffat told Fortune. “I’ll add a large dollop of homemade pesto made with cilantro, roasted pumpkin seeds, ume vinegar, cayenne and a splash of maple syrup.” 

Guilty pleasures

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, Moffat prefers Japanese liquor. 

“If I want to splurge, I love a warm cup of saké mixed with strong green tea, ginger, honey and lemon,”  Moffat told Fortune. 

Saké, a popular Japanese rice wine, contains a probiotic called lactobacillus which can aid digestion. It has also been linked to brightening benefits for the skin.  

Unsurprisingly, as wine connoisseur, Davis prefers French blush wine to Japanese saké.  

Her current favorite weekend ritual is to unwind and have a glass of Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rosé.

Shannon Hudson, the CEO and Founder of 9Round Fitness, the world’s largest kickboxing franchise, also doesn’t mind a night cap.

“I sometimes cheat and have a bourbon or two to wind down,” Hudson told Fortune.

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