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Last modified: June 7th, 2023

Meetings are a necessary part of running a business. In fact, some people can spend as much as 5.5 hours a week in meetings. And business executives like you may spend a lot more time in a chair hearing reports, planning strategies, and chewing on tasteless, mass-produced food. But how can you start practicing healthy eating at work, even with these time constraints?

Beat the post-lunch slow-down by making crucial food choices.

Did you know that the food served in business meetings can change the tone and productivity of the meeting? And it’s not always for the better!

How many of those powdered sugar-covered doughnuts have you eaten or stared at? Sit there long enough, and you know you will eat them.

How many times have you left a meeting feeling like you’ve been hit by a lunch truck? This kind of food drags you down and keeps you from being productive for quite a while afterward.

Your time is important. You need to make the most of it. When meeting food drags you down, you are not getting the most bang for your buck from meetings.

healthy eating at work

Eat Better. Work Smarter

Some meetings do require food. Early morning, lunchtime, and evening meetings need something to draw people to the meeting and keep them there.

But make sure you do so with the right food choices; after all, better food means more productive meetings. It also means better health for you, which means you are much more effective at your job.

Obviously, you don’t want food that will slow everybody down. So, don’t choose foods that signal the body to slow down and focus on digestion.

According to Huffington Post, junk food that contains a lot of gluten and sugar is to blame. And doughnuts are packed with both! If you look at the science behind this, you’ll see the parasympathetic nervous system reacts to a load of sugar and gluten like Wall Street reacts to The Fed raising interest rates. Everything slows down.

How to practice healthy eating at work (Even with busy meetings)

Eat before you go to meetings

You’ve got two choices when it comes to meetings and food: Eat before or eat during.

I suggest you don’t go to your meeting hungry. If you show up hungry, you’ll be tempted to eat. The best thing you can do to avoid eating in meetings is to eat before the meeting.

Take your own food

If someone questions this, explain it’s part of a nutrition program and that you are trying to improve your health and get more done in the office.

Organize short meetings

Short means things get done quickly. You do not waste time and you can get back to business.

If a meeting is less than 30 minutes, people don’t need to waste time grazing at a table of food. They spend time looking for plates and napkins. Then they have to hunt for a trash can when they’ve finished. It’s a waste of time.

Regardless of when the meeting is scheduled, make sure you only drink water.

Cut the sugar

Avoid fruit juice or carbonated sodas. Sugar is not good for you and fruit drinks are packed with sugar. And carbonation, especially in a short meeting, can lead to feeling bloated because of the CO2 build-up in your stomach. In a short meeting, most people will try to drink the whole drink because they don’t want to waste it.

Don’t drink calories

Do provide some water, especially for people who are speaking. They may need something to lubricate their vocal cords. For everyone else, stick to water and coffee with non-sugar sweeteners, says the Center for Total Health. If it is an early morning meeting, coffee is pretty much a requirement.

If you can handle it, drink it black. Dumping in sugar engages the parasympathetic nervous system. Energy is diverted from the brain to the digestive system. Anyone who really needs coffee will drink it black or with artificial sweeteners.

Sometimes, green tea is a good choice too, but that’s harder to come by than coffee.

Politely decline

If you are in a meeting with a food table, coffee, and sugary beverages, politely decline. In some cultures, especially the Southern United States, it’s considered rude to turn down food. Be polite but still, say no. Come up with a reason to avoid the food while not insulting the host.

Other tips:

Put the food to the side. If the food is in the middle of the meeting table, people will be reaching across. It’s a distraction. If put to the side, people will be reluctant to get up from the meeting table.

Final thoughts on healthy eating at work

It’s easy to start healthy eating at work today! While these tips are predominately related to business meetings the practices go beyond the boardroom. You can apply these lessons to all your office meals – both in and out of meetings.

Get more healthy ideas on our top diet books selected with executives in mind.  Start building healthy eating habits in your executive life.

healthy diet books

What other strategies would you add to this list? Please, share your ideas with us in the comments!


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