Healthy Foods

According to the latest research, making better and healthier food choices will make your meetings much more productive.  There are certain types and combinations of food which stimulate the brain resulting in higher levels of efficiency, productivity, and attendee satisfaction.  These so called “brain foods” affect the neurotransmitters in your brain, which are responsible for relaying messages across the neurons in your brain.  Not only have these foods proven to improve brain function and concentration, but they also promote a healthy lifestyle.  When planning an event, be sure to offer healthy foods and include physical activity to ensure everyone gets the most out of the event, supports a healthy lifestyle, and models healthy behaviors.

Key Tips for Menu Planning

If you are trying to decide what to serve at your next meeting, there are many different food choices which are healthy, delicious, and easy to prepare.  Here are a few hints to remember that will be sure to impress and energize everyone at your next meeting.  Before we get into specific menu items, remember to:

–        Serve a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

–        Choose wholegrain pastas, cereal, and breads.

–        Provide proteins, such as nuts, or lean meats like fish, seafood, or skinless chicken.

–        Select low fat dairy products.

–        Limit the amount of foods that are high in salt, saturated fat, and complex sugars.

–        Include lots of water.

Menu Options

Make sure to choose menu items that are appropriate for the time of day your meeting will be held.  It is best to choose popular foods that everyone can enjoy, but to present the food in smaller portion sizes so that it is not the focus of the meeting.  You may also want to consult the attendees about food allergies so that you can plan accordingly.

If you are holding a breakfast meeting, you want to serve items that are filling and sustaining.  Wholegrain or high fiber breads, cereals, and oatmeal are a great way to start your morning.  You can also include low fat yogurts and a colorful array of fruits.  You also want to include proteins to balance the menu and slow sugar absorption: hardboiled eggs, lox, lean deli meats, and nuts are the perfect accompaniment for any breakfast meeting.

For afternoon and evening gatherings, you want to choose something light to keep everyone’s attention on the subject matter and not overload their digestive system.  Foods such as seafood, chicken, and other lean meats create a chemical known as tyrosine which stimulates the brain and keeps us alert.  Salads are another great option since they have a wide variety of vegetables and aren’t extremely filling.  Sandwiches and pastas can be a great choice, but you want to be sure to include lots of vegetables and use wholegrain, high fiber products.  Balance between proteins and carbohydrates is the key factor which determines whether the brain is stimulated or relaxed.

What to Avoid

One of the biggest problems that people face in Los Angeles because of the fast-paced life is serving unhealthy breakfasts at morning meetings that create a sugar rush. Most items included in a continental breakfast such as bagels, rolls, or pastries cause a brief sugar rush and then a sugar crash about 30 minutes later.  The crash usually happens right as the meeting begins which causes people to become drowsy and lose focus.  Donuts, muffins, and energy bars are among the worst choices you could make for a morning meeting.

You want to avoid this same sugar rush in the afternoon because it can result in the “afternoon slowdown.”  People are already tired and listless from sitting all day, so serving a heavy meal or foods that are high in complex sugars will make it difficult to stay awake and pay attention.  If you are unsure of what to serve, you should look for a catering company in Los Angeles that specializes in healthy menus and understands what foods you need to have productive morning and afternoon meetings.

Written by Joel Boardman of Food Fetish, a LA-based catering company specializing in production and corporate catering as well as gourmet food catering services.