Attending conferences can be tough; the long hours, the need to maintain focus, and most importantly, the food! As we close off another year and begin a new decade, we look forward to starting 2020 with our minds filled with positivity and motivation to improve. January brings with it a “new year, new me” mentality, with many rushing to the local gym in order to sign-up for as many training sessions and workout classes as physically possible; maybe even trying out a new sport along the way. On top on this we tend to see people cutting out chocolate, cakes, fizzy drinks and alcohol in an attempt to become fitter and shed those well-earned Christmas pounds. With Veganuary becoming more and more popular as the years go on, we ask the question on healthy eating in the workplace. Now everyone is settling back into work, companies will be starting to organise their conferences and exhibitions for the year, so how do you maintain your healthy lifestyle when attending a conference or exhibition?
Historically, conferences and exhibitions are not the best place for eating healthily. Only getting a short period of time to eat, many people choose unhealthy options such as burgers and chips, cakes, pastries, sausage rolls and sandwiches. This is due to the speed in which they can receive the product in order to eat it within the selected amount of time allotted. This is backed-up by the food providers due to the overall ease to produce the end product; fast food tends to be cheaper and easier to produce for large quantities of people as opposed to healthier alternatives such as salads, wraps and smoothies, which will need to be prepared closer to opening or on demand.
With over 76% of workers choosing to buy lunch on a regular basis, instead of bringing lunch into work from home, many more people are looking at changing their eating habits within the workplace, opting for a more nutritional meal in order to stick to their diets. Many workers are choosing to buy from local, healthier stores as an alternative to buying the typical meal deal or visiting their local fast food establishment. Also, now more than ever, people are choosing to become vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian in order to reduce their overall meat and animal produce intake, in attempt to improve their overall health. People are also adopting the title of “flexitarian”, opting to only eat meat on weekends or one meal a week.
Why is healthy eating important?
Food is a big focus on the brain throughout the day; it is important to fuel the body with the correct food and drink in order to stay alert, maintain focus and keep energised throughout the day. Eating heavy, unhealthy foods will give your body a rush of energy for a short period of time, but will cause you to become tired and less focussed towards the end of the conference. Dave Stewart-Pybus, head chef at The John Smith’s Stadium stated “More and more people are looking towards healthier food options as opposed to the regular sandwiches, pastries and cakes we are used to serving. We have had to adapt and improve our menus over the years in order to include healthier alternatives for lunches, including the addition of vegetarian and vegan options. This has been developed across the board to our food stand and conference menus.”
When attending conferences, you should try to look for healthier alternatives to eat and drink, focusing on high energy superfoods such as lentils, nuts and pulses. These superfoods contain good fats that will help you to have that full feeling for a longer period of time without feeling bloated. On top of the superfoods, change the carbohydrates you are eating from the usual white bread and pasta; instead choose lighter carbs such as brown rice, couscous or the brown alternatives to bread and pasta. Pasta, white rice and white bread are high in glucose (sugar), giving you the same effect of feeling full and energised for a short period of time. However, your energy will burn quicker as opposed to carbs which are lower in glucose. Swap your chocolate and cakes for fruits and vegetables. Natural sugars found in fruit and veg take longer for the body to burn, keeping you energised for a longer period of time. But, please note that these sugars, although natural, can still harm your body if eaten excessively, so please be aware of your intake.
Healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to cut out meat completely, becoming vegetarian or vegan. When selecting meat for lunch, choose a leaner, protein-rich meat such as chicken (without the skin), turkey, or only having select red meats like pork chops or steak with the fat cut off. These meats have a relatively low fat content, they are not too heavy and are perfect for a lunchtime meal when you need to focus in the afternoon. If meat isn’t your thing, but you are pescatarian, there is a selection of fish that are perfect for your lunch. Although some fish can be higher in oily fats, salmon and mackerel are high in omega 3 which is proven to be great for increasing concentration.
Exercise and stretching is important
Attending conferences and exhibitions can be exhausting on your body especially when they are all day long. You can become stiff and develop pains and headaches when sitting for long periods of time and needing to focus at a board or screen. You should take breaks whenever you can. Health experts recommend breaking up sedentary time every 30 minutes for at least 1 to 2 minutes; this can be easier said than done when attending a conference as breaks can be subject to the person or company hosting the event. However, going for a short walk to stretch your legs can be very beneficial to stopping any stiffness or pains, especially in the lower back and legs. There are also some simple stretches you can do whilst sitting to help your back and neck when sitting for a long period of time, without interrupting the conference.
Your experience at The John Smith’s Stadium
At The John Smith’s Stadium, our on-site catering team KUDOS provide a variety of fresh, healthy alternatives, made daily for your conference and exhibition lunches, whether you are looking for hot or cold meals, canapés or buffet-style food. On top of this there is also a variety of vegetarian and vegan options for you to choose from. KUDOS are dedicated to create exceptional food that will help you keep to your healthier lifestyle. As well as the food, The John Smith’s Stadium has a number of rooms to choose from, perfect for any conferences and exhibitions you wish to organise.
Thank you for reading our article on healthy eating when attending conferences at the The John Smith’s Stadium. To see more on our catering click here. To look at the rooms we have available for hire, please click here.