5 Foods to Keep Your Meeting Moving

Don’t let the room’s energy dip after a meal. Try these expert tips to boost attendees’ productivity.

Andrea Sullivan is understandably concerned when she gives a morning presentation, and the breakfast table includes a nice display of white-flour and sugary offerings.

“I’ve seen this in way too many meetings, where they serve bagels and pastries,” says Sullivan, president and founder of BrainStrength Systems, which works with organizations to help improve performance and culture. “Blood sugar goes up really high, and within an hour it dips really low. I feel like, OK, I better get this done quickly because in another 45 minutes these people will be toast.”

Don’t shortchange your event’s success. Eating the right foods can boost brain power by as much as 20 percent, according to the World Health Organization. And the good news is that it’s easy to substitute meeting-sabotaging foods with selections that power productivity.

Serve Up Productivity

If your gathering attendees are ready to roll up their sleeves and get down to work, avoid serving foods that make them sleepy — think heavy meats, fats and the dreaded white flour/sugar combo. Sullivan suggests boosting alertness by swapping out conventional foods for healthier options:

  • Serve low-fat yogurt with fruit and other healthy toppings for breakfast, as a lighter alternative to baked goods.
  • Switch from white flour to whole grains.
  • Serve pasta dishes with chicken or eggs to add protein.
  • Trade a cream sauce for a tasty fruit one.
  • Go for guacamole: Avocados have oleic acid, which actually speeds up the neurons, making it a great brain food.

Although many request healthier foods these days, Sullivan notes that attendees still typically arrive at a meeting or conference in “holiday mode.” They’re traveling and so might want to cheat (but just a little) on their regular diets.

No harm in serving dessert, even if work is still to be done, she adds. “As long as it’s after a meal, when they have protein in their bellies.”