The space has a varied food offer, provided by Pingo Doce & Go at the Carcavelos campus, and with food tips to make the participants' snacks balanced and more suitable for the performance of their duties. All menus and foods were selected by Rodrigo Abreu, nutritionist of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), who told us about how these new options meet the needs of executives.
- How did you come up with the idea of revolutionizing the executive training coffee breaks?
It is easy to see the influence of diet on the performance of an elite athlete, because we see them training hard and competing. However, it is more difficult to recognize the physiological strain that a business leader is exposed to on a daily basis and the impact this has on his or her body. Often, and continuously, these people are subjected to very long working hours, spend a lot of time sitting, sleep less than recommended, have difficulty controlling their eating habits, and are exposed to high levels of stress. Being clear about NOVA SBE's mission to develop talent and knowledge with impact, it makes perfect sense to address the nutrition of leaders, according to the type of efforts they make. And one of the best moments to start this journey towards high performance leadership is precisely when they are at NOVA SBE in training. Coffee breaks are moments of pause and conviviality, important for mental balance, but they can also contribute to strengthen us from the physical point of view. They are useful to break long periods of sitting in the classroom and also to eat something balanced to recover from the cognitive effort and keep us alert and productive during the following hours. Unfortunately, what is most convenient or tasty is not always the most suitable for our needs. Thus, the idea arose to reconcile pleasure and convenience with the nutritional requirements of a performance-oriented diet.
- How can food affect the performance of a business leader?
Food is the fuel for the physical and cognitive efforts to which we are subjected. In the case of leaders, this effort often involves enduring many hours of sitting, mental concentration, and stress. The food we eat and how we combine it, the amount of food eaten, the intervals between meals, or the state of hydration, are all factors that affect intellectual performance. For example, a more voluminous meal, or one with a higher fat content, results in a greater influx of blood to the digestive tract, which can lead to drowsiness or even lower blood pressure. Also the state of hydration affects our cognitive abilities - a reduction of just 2% of body weight due to dehydration increases the difficulty of concentration and the number of mistakes made in intellectual tasks. Finally, we know that excess weight derived from poor eating habits has a direct impact on people's health and productivity. All this evidence demonstrates the need for leaders to learn to adopt a careful diet as a tool for better personal performance and that of their teams.
- Were all the menus developed with the objective of enhancing the executives' performance? In what way?
Based on the metabolic and physiological needs of the executives in training, we tried to ensure that the food available in the coffee breaks meets the main nutritional requirements. Thus, there was a concern to provide different types of carbohydrates, so that it is possible to combine slow absorption options (for example, oatmeal or whole wheat bread) with fast absorption options (such as fruit). This helps to keep blood sugar levels stable over time, an essential factor for learning abilities. Low-fat protein sources are also provided (boiled eggs or low-fat protein yogurt) so that the daily protein intake (necessary even for those who are not athletes) is not totally concentrated in lunch and dinner. We have also tried to provide foods rich in vitamins and minerals that are important in regulating brain function, as is the case of the so-called nuts (oilseeds), which are excellent sources of magnesium and zinc, as well as the so-called "good fats" (unsaturated fatty acids). And because the emotional role of food has not been forgotten, there are also some foods that, although not so nutritionally balanced, serve to give some pleasure or awaken our senses.