Andrea Sullivan, speaker, trainer, and president of BrainStrength Systems, says food is an excellent tool to help produce effective meetings. Her focus is “brain food,” that helps attendees focus, stay on task, and stay energized throughout the day. She was a featured speaker at this year’s International Association of Conference Centers annual conference held March 23-25 at The National Conference Center located on 110 acres in northern Virginia just outside of Washington DC.
Some of her menu suggestions include:
1. Breakfast: Minimize white flours and sugars at breakfast that will play havoc with blood glucose levels throughout the day. Instead, provide complex carbohydrates, low fat, low glycemic-index foods, with plenty of protein options, and wholesome sugars like honey.
2. Lunch: Keep it light. If meeting objectives require alertness and clear thinking, stimulate the brain with a high protein/low carb balance. Serve chicken, fish, vegetables, and fruit. If the meeting objectives are for teambuilding or social networking or if the meeting may be stressful, serve complex carbs to relax the brain. Whole grain pasta or brown rice casseroles work well to comfort while providing sustainable energy.
3. Basic Rules for Breaks: Keep it low-glycemic, while providing healthy treats with complex carbs, fruit, and some protein such as cheese or nuts.
4. Afternoon Break: Lots of fruit and some protein will help counteract afternoon brain drain and mental fatigue.
5. Dinner: Now is the time for comfort foods that relax the brain. Red meats, turkey, bananas, whole grains, beans, and dark chocolate are some options.
6. Remember to FLOSS: Choose Fresh, Local, Organic, Sustainable, and Seasonal.
7. Drink Me! Include a sign like this on your water containers, as hydration is essential for a healthy brain.
8. Always ask, “Where can I add protein and smart fats?” Serving oatmeal cookies? Add honey and walnuts. Sprinkle ground flax seeds on other offerings.
9. High on Omega 3. Omega 3 reverses memory loss and eases depression.
10. Coffee makes you crash. Mix in tea and dark chocolate to limit those negative effects.