Eating for Special Occasions: Foods to Eat for Your Best Performance
Business Presentation or Job Interview
Very often we're told what not to eat, but it's also important to know what we should eat. Not all foods have the same impact on your body. So what are the right foods to eat for special occasions? Find out.Business Presentation or Job Interview
These situations can be stressful simply because they're so unpredictable. Being prepared is important, but you also want to make sure you "fuel" your body for peak performance. You have to strike the right balance -- you want to be organized, but you also want to be flexible and responsive to unforeseen questions or situations. The last thing you need to worry about is feeling queasy, hungry, overstuffed, or anything else that the wrong meal might provoke.
Objective: For a presentation you need to be self-possessed and confident, but also engaged, curious, and involved with the audience. For the job interview, you should be calm, collected, and sharp -- ready to answer any question that gets thrown your way. Don't show up for either with your stomach making all kinds of feed-me, feed-me noises.
Pick these foods: Take 3 to 4 ounces of lean protein such as fish, chicken, low-fat cottage cheese or an egg-white omelet and add one slice of whole-grain bread or brown rice and one cup of fruit or vegetables. If you normally drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages with your meal, continue to do so. Make sure you have water as well, says Judith Wurtman, PhD, a research scientist at MIT and coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet: Use Your Brain's Natural Chemistry to Cut Cravings, Curb Emotional Overeating, and Lose Weight (Rodale, 2007).
Why? You are eating protein to make sure that your brain is manufacturing two chemicals (norepinephrine and dopamine, made from tyrosine) that control mental alertness. "Ordinarily we eat enough protein so this is not a problem, but after an overnight fast, not eating any protein for many hours (until dinner, for example) could limit the synthesis of these neurotransmitters," says Wurtman. "The carbohydrate, fruit, or vegetables are included to nourish you and make sure your body is getting enough calories and nutrients. The caffeinated beverage is important if you normally depend on it to make you awake and keep you that way. You don't want to fall asleep during your own presentation. The water should also be near you when you speak in case your mouth gets dry from anxiety," she adds.
When should you eat it? Eat your meal at least an hour or an hour and a half before the presentation to make sure that it is at least partially digested and its effects on your brain are in process.
How much should you eat? Eat a moderate amount because you don't want to feel bloated or stuffed. Stay away from bulky vegetables because you don't want to feel uncomfortable.
Avoid these foods: High-fat foods like butter, mayonnaise, cheese, and cream.
Why? They will make you feel muddleheaded and mentally fatigued. Avoid alcohol unless your presentation is at a bachelor party.
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