Brain Food and Healthy Eating at Meetings & Events


Speakers and presenters have long dreaded the after lunch graveyard slot at meetings and events. You could try swinging from the rigging but in truth, nothing can shake delegates from that post-prandial somnolence induced by three indulgent courses!

Meetings planners might have felt obliged to deliver hearty helpings to avoid any accusation of corporate stinginess, so delegates indulged and dozed gloriously through key parts of the meeting. Brain food and healthy eating at meetings and events was not a key consideration. 

Focus on Nutrition & Healthy Eating at Events

But that is a thing of the past. The global focus on good nutrition and wellness has well and truly penetrated the meetings and events industry and, these days, meetings and events follow a new rhythm with brain food and healthy eating a key part of the planning process.

To promote healthy eating at meetings, conference and events, The World Obesity Forum created the Healthy Venue Award and three venues have been awarded this prestigious title, one of them in Ireland - the Convention Centre Dublin.

Healthy Venues

The Vancouver Convention Centre was the inaugural winner of the award and they attribute their success as a healthy venue to the fact that they create almost everything they serve in-house. “With everything from dressings and stocks to bread and pastries made in-house, the kitchens are able to ensure that guests are offered delicious, healthy menu items that feature reduced fat, sugar and sodium” said Craig Lehto, General Manager, Vancouver Convention Centre.

The Milano Convention Centre also has healthy eating at the heart of its business model and colour codes its menus so as to highlight food values. Its menu options all include healthy alternatives but the Milano Convention Centre also helps meeting planners design meetings to promote less sedentary behaviours and to incorporate physical activity into the day's programme. In addition, water stations are strategically positioned around the entire venue to encourage good hydration. 

Research on Healthy Eating at Meetings & Events

The International Association of Convention Centres (IACC) has been tracking the changing patterns in food service at meetings over the last number of years and is noticing some interesting trends.

A recent report highlights, in particular, how venues are now receiving requests for "brain foods" such as walnuts, quinoa, blueberries, acai berries, dark chocolate, avocados, beets, spinach and kale. These foods are regarded as having the potential to positively influence mental clarity through energizing b-vitamins, stress-relief through magnesium and enhanced energy distribution due to a low glycaemic load.

There is also a requirement for ethical sourcing and sustainability. In the report, Andrew Taylor of Warwick Conferences, who operate 3 residential conference and training venues calls out the concerns that organisers and delegates have around wastage. He also outlines how the salad bar is ever more important with a growing number of delegates considering this as the focus of lunch as opposed to a side show. 

Healthy Eating at Croke Park Meetings & Events

Chef RuairĂ­ Boyce and his team at Croke Park keep healthy catering in sharp focus and we recently caught up with RuairĂ­ preparing some heathy lunch, brunch and break options.

Another champion of healthy catering and nutrition at Croke Park is Cian Irvine. We asked Cian for his Top 10 Brain Fuel Food items and he threw in an additional one for good measure so here’s our Top 11!
  1. Fatty fish (salmon or trout) – rich source of omega-3s, a major brain building block playing a play a role in sharpening memory 

  2. Coffee – contains antioxidants and can help boost alertness and mood 

  3. Blueberries – anti-inflammatory/antioxidant properties that help delay brain aging and improve memory 

  4. Turmeric – its active compound curcumin has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that help brain function 

  5. Broccoli – contains powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds including vitamin K linked to better memory 

  6. Pumpkin Seeds – rich in many micronutrients important for brain function including copper, iron, magnesium and zinc  

  7. Dark Chocolate (yipee!!) – includes flavonoids that can help protect the brain 

  8. Nuts – contain a host of brain-boosting nutrients, including vitamin E, healthy fats and plant compounds 

  9. Oranges – Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off free radicals that can damage brain cells 

  10. Eggs - good source of several nutrients tied to brain health including vitamins B6 and B12, folate and choline 

  11. Green Tea – caffeine content boosts alertness, antioxidants protect the brain and L-theanine helps you relax
Our team ensure a wide range of healthy options are on the menu at Croke Park Meetings & Events. Click here for some Brain Fuel Menu options.

Contact us when planning your next event and let us help with your event communications.

Keep in touch

Enquire Online