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6 Ways to Make Your Meeting Menu Healthier

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Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash 298710

Have you ever tried to get through a company presentation or a day-long meeting after chowing down on a heavy lunch of Fettuccine Alfredo and washing it down with a glass of wine? It’s torture, right? You can’t keep your eyes open and your brain feels like it’s wading through molasses. Everything is painfully slow and arduous. There’s an undeniable and very real connection between what and when we eat, how it makes us feel, and how it affects our overall productivity.

Food is more than just fuel to power us through the day. The quality of what we input ultimately affects our output. If we want to have a quick-paced, alert, and productive meeting, we need to ensure our attendees are fueling with healthy, light, nutrient-rich sustenance. Day- or weekend-long conference meetings can’t afford participants experiencing hunger, indigestion, slow-paced brain function, grogginess, or intense sugar rushes (followed by severely unproductive lows) that keep them from being their productive best.

The secret to highly functioning attendees and productive meetings is brain-boosting food. More vegetables and fruits and unprocessed grains, less meat, dairy, and sugar and refined, fatty foods that slow you down.

Here are six foolproof ways to help everyone eat a little smarter at your next meeting. 

water glass1. Hydrate to dominate

Our bodies are made up of mostly water. We need to remain hydrated to perform at peak capacity. Switch out those sugar-laden sodas and juice drinks with carbonated or flat water. Throw in lemon slices or berries to make them more attractive options. Offer 100 per cent real juice, low-fat milk or non-dairy options with coffee or tea. Eat to hydrate! Watermelon, cucumbers, celery, and most greens are composed mainly of water – plus contain all those handy brain-boosting nutrients. 

YUL Eat susan moss 400sq2. Reach for the (veggie and fruit) rainbow

When it comes to nutritional powerhouses, nothing can compete with fruits and veggies. Fruit and vegetable consumption has been scientifically proven to boost mental productivity, mood, and overall well-being. Eating ‘clean’ makes you feel better, quicker physically and mentally, and positively affects your cognitive performance and output. Offer a variety of local, in-season fruits and vegetables at your meeting (it doesn’t matter what’s in season, all fruit and vegetables are good for you!) and your attendees will stay more alert, remain energized and perform better throughout the day. 

Aux Vivres photo Susan Moss3. Meet without the meat

Replace that tired old flank steak with low-fat protein options like grilled chicken or fish, and make sure to offer vegetarian options. More and more people are opting for meat-free meals and feeling better for it. Plant-based lunches leave you feeling lighter, more alert, and mentally productive, and thanks to vegetarianism’s new widespread popularity, meat-free meals are no longer an expensive or difficult option to supply. Offer a variety of grains like couscous and quinoa, colourful salads, multi-grain pasta, deceptively rich vegetable-based soups, yummy tofu, and both your budget and your attendees will thank you. 

Photo by Karly Gomez on Unsplash-216611 400sq4. Bigger isn’t always better

Encourage smaller portions by providing smaller serving plates and by offering a variety of colourful and healthy options in well-presented and beautifully plated dishes. People also eat with their eyes. A pleasing set-up will go a long way towards satiating their appetites and smaller portion plates will encourage both moderation in their eating habits and less overall waste for a more sustainable meeting. 

Mandys susan moss 400sq5. When it comes to nutrition, white isn’t right

Step away from the carbs and the processed sugars if you want to be at peak performance. There’s absolutely nothing worse than nutritionally empty foods like starches, carbs, flour, and sugars (we’re talking bread, rice, white pasta, cake, chips, etc.) that usually taste delicious, but offer you less than nothing when it comes to brain performance and mood enhancement. Refined sugar and starches act like cocaine on your body, making you crave them, and then contributing to a major carb crash. Replace all unhealthy junk with whole grains and unrefined products that metabolize slowly and give you the brain food you need. 

Photo by Juan Jos Valencia Antia on Unsplash 16138_400sq6. Break for better productivity

Day-long meetings require frequent breaks, both for attendees to remain fresh and productive and to allow everyone to refuel. Grazing throughout the day has been found to keep you mentally focused and not easily susceptible to making questionable food choices. Provide easily accessible healthy snacks throughout the meeting. Nutrient-dense nuts, fruit, protein bars, 100 per cent fruit juices, and lemon-infused water will satiate attendees without filling them up too much and making them feel tired. Food that releases glycose slowly can keep you from food cravings and distraction, and can drastically boost your productivity. 

A well-fueled brain is an attentive and productive brain, and a healthier meeting menu will ultimately result in a more successful meeting.

For a deep dive into creating healthier meetings, check out the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s downloadable PDF guide, “Healthy Meeting Toolkit”

Photos: Dan Gold on Unsplash, Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash, Susan Moss (YUL Eat), Susan Moss (Aux Vivres), Karly Gomez on Unsplash, Susan Moss (Mandy’s), Juan José Valencia Antía on Unsplash

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