What not to eat the night before a meeting

Eating nutritious foods before an important meeting can help you feel focused and energised, according to research.

Apparently, planning what you’re going to eat is an important part of your overall strategy, as it helps to ensure you can fully participate in a healthy exchange of ideas.

On the other side of the coin, there are certain foods you should avoid the night before a meeting, as they can have a potentially negative effect on your performance – including your pre-meeting meals as part of the planning process could help things go much more smoothly the following day.

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Bad breath: foods to avoid

Eating certain foods can cause all sorts of problems in the meeting such as bad breath, flatulence, tummy sounds and headaches. Some can be triggers for one or more of these problems, so try to avoid them.

While brushing, flossing and mouthwash are all good ways of keeping your mouth healthy and clean, they can’t prevent bad breath caused by something you’ve eaten.

Garlic is top of the list of foods not to eat before a meeting. This is because it is absorbed into your bloodstream, so a secondary wave of odour can make its way into the lungs, escaping through your mouth. It also emits a strong odour from your pores.

While it doesn’t mean you should stop eating garlic altogether, don’t overdo it, especially the night before a meeting.

Onions are also high on the list of what not to eat. Just like garlic, the odour can linger long after you have dined. They contain sulphur compounds that are absorbed in the bloodstream, so always give yourself extra protection by brushing your teeth, flossing and using a mouthwash if you don’t want to be found out!

Seafood, but particularly tinned tuna, is also not recommended. Fish dishes in general can give you bad breath, but canned tuna can take it to a whole new level.

Even dairy products can linger and give you bad breath because natural bacteria on the tongue feeds on the amino acids in cheese and milk, which can result in an unpleasant odour.

Which foods can cause flatulence?

Certain foods can cause excess flatulence because they are hard to break down. When this is the case, gas is produced in our large intestine, which escapes as flatulence. While it’s a normal bodily function, it’s not something you would wish to occur in a meeting.

All kinds of food can cause flatulence such as beans, sprouts, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli and other vegetables. In addition, foods with a lot of soluble fibre such as fruits, bran and peas can be the culprit.

Other foods rich in starch can also make you a bit windy including pasta, potatoes and corn. Eat them in moderation, or not at all, the night before a meeting.

What causes the stomach to rumble?

You might associate a rumbling tummy with being hungry, but certain foods can make it “growl” as well. To avoid the sounds going into overdrive, limit your intake of sugar, acidic foods and alcohol prior to the meeting.

Citrus fruits and coffee can cause a grumbling tummy. In addition, sugars, such as sorbitol and fructose, can cause similar problems.

A study published in the ​World Journal of Gastroenterology​ revealed a link between eating spicy foods and abdominal discomfort including gas, bloating and “rumbling” noises. It suggested this was caused by capsaicin, an active component in red chili, that can accelerate normal gastrointestinal movements.

The noises can occur among people who can’t digest lactose properly too. They may experience bloating, gas, gurgling and stomach noises as a result of severe indigestion.

What foods can cause headaches?

Aside from discomfort in the stomach, some foods can cause headaches that will also leave you feeling below par in a meeting. In particular, cheese is a known trigger for headaches and migraines. Strong cheeses such as brie, blue cheese, cheddar, gorgonzola, stilton, feta, mozzarella and parmesan are all enemy number one.

In addition, alcohol can cause headaches. This doesn’t mean a hangover from excess drinking: alcohol can cause headaches for some people even when consumed in moderation. Avoid whiskey, red wine, high alcohol-content beers and champagne – the most common triggers.

Some people say eating peanuts, almonds, peanut butter and other nuts and seeds gives them a headache. Pickled foods including olives, pickles and sauerkraut are the cause for some. The best advice is to recognise what your own trigger foods are and avoid them, especially if you’ve got to deliver an important pitch the following morning.

Medical advice suggests whatever you eat in the evening, you should stop at least three hours before bedtime. It allows you to fully digest the food, with the contents of your stomach moving into the small intestine. This can stop heartburn occurring at night and may help people who suffer from insomnia.

What should you have for breakfast?

While there are certain foods you should avoid before your meeting, you should always have a healthy, nutritional breakfast before setting off. This will help you to stay energised and focused, rather than feeling jaded and hungry at the office.

There are certain “superfoods” that have known nutritional benefits, such as “green drinks”, which are known to be healthier than the traditional cup of coffee. They are made by combining vegetables and fruits that are full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to aid optimum brain function.

Other healthy superfoods include cashews, as they are a good source of the amino acid, L-tryptophan. This aids serotonin production, so they’re the perfect snack to help you feel calm. One handful, 30 minutes before a meeting, should do the trick.

A good meal can include eggs, as the yolks contain lecithin. This boosts acetylcholine production; helping you to focus better, improving concentration and aiding memory recall. Eat them boiled, rather than scrambled, to avoid oxidation, as this can degrade the nutrients in the yolk.

Avocado is also a good breakfast food, as the mono-unsaturated fats help to nourish the brain and improve circulation. If you’re feeling anxious and stressed, they can be particularly beneficial.

For a quick boost just before the meeting, try a couple of squares of dark chocolate with almond butter filling. Not only will it satisfy a sweet tooth, but it is also a source of antioxidants and caffeine. It gives you a boost without the negative effects of a cup of coffee.

Plan your menu before the meeting. Don’t just grab a muffin as you run out of the house! Think healthy superfoods for the best all-around results.

Now go out and knock ‘em dead!

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