Stop! Before you exit the hotel breakfast buffet line, what’s on your plate? Breakfast is intended to be the biggest meal, but also serves a purpose to feed our brain for a high performance day. In the Spring issue of Meeting Discoveries, the article “The Science of Food for Thought: How Food Enhances Meetings,“ elaborates on research by Andrea Sullivan of BrainStrength Systems who discovered best meeting practices when it comes to food and Executive Chef Craig Mason who witnessed positive changes in meeting attendees first hand at The National Conference Center.
How do you build a healthy meeting breakfast?
- Cut-out the pastries or cut-them in half – danishes, muffins, sugared cereals and white breads are loaded with unnecessary sugars and white flour that “fog” your brain, not allowing you to perform at your full potential. If your meeting venue serves muffins, request they bake smaller portions for a muffin that is half the size. You can also request the chef use pure honey (with out fructose corn syrup) instead of sugar to sweeten the muffins. Please keep in mind, these requests should be made months in advance to the Food & Beverage department of the hotel or conference center. As Executive Chef Mason says, “If they’re not willing to work with you on this, then there are probably many other facets of the meeting that they also won’t be willing to work with you on either.”
- Proteins with a balance of carbohydrates - The best way to start your day is with protein. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and Choline, a chemical building block for learning. Served on a whole grain bagel to sustain energy and you’ve created the perfect breakfast. Turkey bacon is another healthy protein to be eaten in moderation. Hard-boiled eggs on break stations are also a nice gesture.
- Lighter is better than none – If you’re a light breakfast eater or don’t usually eat breakfast, it’s still very important to eat food with your brain in mind (no pun intended). Yogurt, granola, and bananas are all known to improve cognitive functioning and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces happiness. Light is also key to staying awake when it comes to lunch servings.
Keeping these concepts in mind at breakfast – lower sugar intake, smaller portions, less white flour and more whole wheat, balance between carbohydrates and proteins such as eggs, and a light breakfast is better than none – you’ll be on your way to a more productive meeting. To learn more about how menu choices enhances mood, learning and performance in meetings, read “The Science of Food for Thought: How Food Enhances Meetings“. What have been your biggest lessons learned in terms of meeting foods? Have you found best practices that work for your attendees or ones you’ll avoid?