A professional event manager’s tip for staying on track while attending conferences.
Managing your diet while attending a conference can be challenging, but if you have your mind set to be prepared and to accept that you will not be eating the same way you do at home, you will be fine. The trick for me is to have food in easy, single serving, disposable packages.
Before you go:
- Check your suitcase and include a small knife, cutting board and medium sized zip lock bags
- Bring plenty of premade, single serving snacks and drinks (individual salad dressings packages, bottled or tetra pak drinks, pudding, chips, bars, etc). I find I am less like likely to use the powdered foods and drinks – think ‘grab & go’ mentality!
- Ask for an empty mini fridge at your hotel.
- Bring a couple of single packages of Splenda if you use them (or grab a few extra from a coffee shop at the airport) in case they aren’t provided with your hotel room coffee service.
- I usually bring a few vanilla rooibos or chai tea bags. Boil water in your coffee maker to make tea and mix it with a vanilla drink for a nice latte style drink.
When you arrive:
- When I arrive in a new city, I schedule a bit of time immediately to set myself up with my food requirements for the week (otherwise things get crazy and if I’m not prepared I will end up eating a muffin from starbucks!). Ask your taxi driver or hotel staff where the nearest grocery store and Subway restaurant is (but careful, see this article on Subway). If I find a grocery store I load up on everything I need for the duration of my stay including bottled water because chances are you won’t have the time or energy won’t go back there a second time. You will only get more tired as the days progress so as soon as I drop my bags in my room, I head out immediately to go food shopping.
- Cut up 2 cups of vegetables (celery, red/yellow/green peppers, zucchini, etc) into sticks and put them in medium sized ziplock bags in your mini fridge. Make your life easy and buy the precut celery and mini cucumbers, even if they cost a bit more. Prepare all of your vegetables on your first night in your hotel so you don’t have to think about it.
- Make a few veggie snack bags with celery and cucumbers only to have on hand as an extra snack if you get hungry at the conference and on your flight home.
- If you are travelling internationally, ensure that you eat or dispose the fresh vegetables BEFORE you go through customs (note that sometimes you pass US customs at YVR so don’t bring vegetables on your inbound flight to the US).
- If you can’t get to a grocery store ask your hotel restaurant to provide a veggie tray specifying with vegetables you want (…but this option is more expensive).
- I usually to find a Subway restaurant and buy 3 salads (2 mixed green salads, and 1 mixed salad with protein for an emergency dinner). Don’t be shy to ask for extra protein. Get enough cutlery & napkins for each salad. Bring a green salad with you to the conference with your single serving salad dressings. Trust me, people will be stopping you and asking where you found the salad! Find a quiet corner and enjoy your green salad with an Ideal protein drink for lunch.
- Conferences can be exhausting so make sure you have enough snacks (bars, chips, drinks) or your fresh veggie snack packs and drink plenty of water in your bags at all times. Bring more than you think you will need for the day. Try not to let yourself get hungry or dehydrated.