Whole Foods CEO Shares What He Eats to Stay Energized—Hot Sauce as Salad Dressing, Less Caffeine and a Vegan Lunch

Photo: Jason Buechel

Food has always been an important part of my life. I grew up in rural Wisconsin, where my father was a cheesemaker. My grandparents also had a dairy farm, and most of our family dinners featured vegetables that we grew in our garden.

Today, as the CEO of Whole Foods Market, my love for food connects me with our 100,000-plus team members. I strive to eat with nutrition in mind, with a preference for fresh and seasonal ingredients, but that's not to say I don't deviate from time to time.

Here's what I eat to stay focused and energized:

Start the day with an energizing breakfast—no caffeine

My workday starts at 8 a.m. During the pandemic, I gave up most caffeinated foods and drinks. Since then, my sleep has improved significantly, and I get my morning energy boost from early run or some weight-lifting.

For breakfast, I'll have oatmeal or a smoothie with fresh produce and vegan protein powder (Garden of Life Sport is my go-to).

The 365 by Whole Foods Market Crunchy Peanut Butter is also a staple in my pantry. I love it in smoothies, on toast, or just as a spoon-sized snack.

A bright, vegan lunch

My lunches are mostly plant-based. I usually head straight to a Whole Foods Market's salad bar and make a filling and nutritious bowl of kale, mixed greens, beans and seasonal vegetables.

My trick for keeping salad exciting is to get creative with new ingredients, flavors and textures.

I use different hot sauces and hummus as my dressing, or adding falafel and baba ghanouj (roasted eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, seasonings and tahini) to brighten my greens.

Quick snacks throughout the day

Having three meals isn't enough to keep me energized. When I need an extra boost, I'll reach for some almonds or blueberries.

And coming from Wisconsin, I'd be remiss if I didn't include cheese as one of my go-to snacks. I like to ask one of our certified cheese experts for recommendations. Some of my favorites are Rogue River Blue by Rogue Creamery and Rush Creek Reserve by Uplands Cheese Company.

I prefer savory snacks, but when I want something sweet, I'll reach for 365 by Whole Foods Market Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups or a Hu Salty Dark Chocolate Bar.

End the day with animal proteins

I eat dinner at around 8 p.m. And although my diet is mostly plant-based, I include animal proteins or dairy in my dinners about three times a week to pack in essential proteins and calcium.

When cooking at home, I love grilling halibut or Chilean sea bass, served with roasted vegetables. My current favorite side is a medley of Brussels sprouts, Romanesco broccoli, and cauliflower.

When I want to impress a crowd with a delicious plant-based meal, I make jackfruit "pulled pork" tacos with refried lentils.

For dinner nights out in Austin, where I live, I frequent sushi and farm-to-table restaurants.

And when I travel for work, I try to stay near a Whole Foods Market. But I always make it a point to explore new places and try regional cuisines. After all, trying new foods is one of the best perks of my job.

Jason Buechel is the CEO of Whole Foods Market. Previously, he served as Chief Operating Officer, providing operational leadership over the grocery chain's 500-plus locations. Jason joined Whole Foods Market in 2013 as Global Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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