Meeting eating for a brain boosting bonus

The truth behind meeting menus.

There was a time when meetings were simple. When people sat in a room giving opinions while the boss pretended to listen. Now, meetings are a time for people to collaborate and share ideas where, often, a tray of food sits amidst the notepads, whiteboards and PowerPoint presentations.

According to nutritionist Melinda Overall, meetings menus featuring carb-loaded croissants and salty sandwiches can be a recipe for disaster.

“What we eat plays a huge role in how we perform, with research showing a change in diet can significantly impact alertness, memory recall and mental acuity,” Melinda said.

“Ultimately, personal nutrition is up to the individual to manage, but there are lots of ways bosses can support healthy habits that can help everyone come to the table ready for success.”

Do we need to eat while we work?

Does the meeting have to happen when people are eating? You need around 20 minutes to feel the effect of food and feel full, so eating mindlessly can easily lead to over eating. Instead, take a break from work to eat. Standing and walking meetings are another option for a healthy alternative.

Make a break of it

Sometimes you just have to meet at lunch or over afternoon tea, when people expect something to eat. Make time to eat by separating when you eat and when you work. Avoid people being distracted by the food by scheduling a mid-meeting buffet break in another room. Attendees can digest the information discussed, socialise and eat more mindfully.

Ditch the salty snacks

We all know salt can raise blood pressure, but recent research is showing that it can also reduce the levels of good bacteria in our gut, especially Lactobacillus. This change in the digestive system can subsequently reduce energy and focus. Salt’s dehydrating effect can also lead to headaches, irritability, drowsiness and confusion, which can reduce performance.

Cut the carbs

Carbohydrates aren’t all bad. In fact, the National Health and Medical Council recommend carbs make up around 45% to 65% of our diets. We just need to focus on the right ones. Muffins, bread, cakes and soft drinks all contain simple carbs that breakdown quickly creating blood sugar spikes and immediate energy. This quickly wears off, though, leaving us in a carb crash and reaching for more sugary snacks.

Keep the tea and coffee

It’s okay to have two or three cups a day without sugar. While it does have a diuretic effect, the average cup will provide more water than is lost. Full fat milk will also help keep energy levels constant. If you’re constantly reaching for your cup, look at your overall nutrition to address the underlying need for energy.

Fat is not the enemy

As with protein, fats take longer to break down, providing more constant energy levels. It also keeps us fuller for longer. This doesn’t mean you can pile it on. It’s still important to find natural sources such as avocado, raw nuts and dairy options that aren’t crammed with salt and carbs.

Wrap it up

A quick way to cut the carbs at lunch is to provide wraps, not sandwiches. These allow for more salad, protein and healthy fats to be included through fillings.

Functional fruit

Ditch the biscuits and chocolate for fruit. Another option is apple slices and 100% nut butter for a small carbohydrate hit paired with the long-term energy of fat and protein in the nuts.