Meetings Canada


Nutrition and Events

Sandy Biback

How many times have you promised yourself at the next conference you attended, or implemented, you would stay hydrated and eat right? Forget about exercising!

Recently, CanSPEP presented a morning session on this very topic. It was an eye-opener. We all know what needs to be done; we all try.

Let’s start with the attendees. As a planner, how often have you suggested healthy food? No danishes for breakfast; no drowsy-inducing pasta for lunch; no chocolate dessert for dinner; no cookies at the break. “What!” exclaims your boss, “we can’t do that! Our attendees are meat and potatoes!” So you serve the meat and potatoes, only to find that in today’s world, much of this is not appreciated. And it shows in the evaluations.

What can you do?

• Serve Protein: Serve the danishes and add hard-boiled eggs. At the CanSPEP event, independent planner Heidi Wilker, CMP, of Blessed Events, wants to see hard-boiled eggs included at every continental breakfast. By the end of the session, our host hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, included it in their menus! Only the rest of Canada to go! Protein is the key; at least 16 g. at each meal. Serving yogurt? Make it Greek – more protein than any other.

• At breaks, ensure there is protein or fun food that is good for you. No one can resist the smell of popcorn being made on-site.

• Those dinner desserts? How about apple cobbler? Lots fewer calories than chocolate cake. Oh yes, but we must get in the chocolate! Then why not a sampler? Something with apple in it and something with chocolate.

• One suggestion from guest speaker Stefanie Senior, registered dietitian, was to not serve coffee after noon. That didn’t go over very well! Did you know a Starbuck’s grande coffee has 330 mg of caffeine? A cup of green tea has only 30 mg.

And for yourself on-site?

• Eat breakfast, with protein, before you hit the floor!

• Stay hydrated. That means water, not coffee!

• Try to eat something healthy every three to four hours. In the office, I keep healthy snacks for everyone. Protein bars (read the ingredients first); water; fresh fruit; almonds; pumpkin seeds; sunflower seeds; yogurt; granola.

• Have a cup of camomile tea before bed (stay away from wine) until it’s all over!

Easier said than done? You bet. But keep trying. What are your tips while on-site? Or menu tips for attendees? I’d love to hear them.


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