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Eating Healthy at Conferences

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Eating out Healthy

Healthy packed dried fruits and veggiesWho likes attending conferences, trade shows, or events?  Who does not like gaining weight, overspending on food, or feeling lethargic from eating and drinking in ways you would not consider at home? After speaking at and attending hundreds of events, Alexandra and I have some healthy tips for eating out when on the road.

Heading to BlogHer 2013 in Chicago

Given that I will be at BlogHer 2013 this weekend, I have been thinking of ways to keep my energy and focus strong so I can take advantage of every minute I am at this big gig. That means eating well. But I sure don’t want to pack on more than I packed in, so I will be implementing the “eating healthy on the road” plan that Alexandra and I have honed over the years. We hope our tips and experience help you reach your road food goals in a satisfying, healthy, easy way.

BlogHer 2013 Speaker Head Shot for Kymberly

On your way to the event

1. Bring your in-flight meal and snacks with you rather than relying on options served at the (expensive) airport restaurants and on the plane.  Nothing makes it easier to resist any temptation airport fast food chains offer than knowing you have your favorite sandwich, hard boiled egg, or fruit and nuts in your carry on. Oh, and skip the tuna fish sandwich if you want to have any kind of rapport with your seatmate. I learned this lesson the stinky way!

2. While you cannot bring a filled water bottle through security checkpoints, you can carry an empty one. Fill it up with ice or water once past security. I feel more refreshed when I sip icy cold water during flights and when waiting at connection gates. Skip the sodas, alcohol, and sugar-filled juice beverages served in-flight and ask for ice, water, or tomato juice instead. You’ll land with a clearer head and fresher energy for the conference ahead.

3. If driving, bring with you healthy food and a small cooler. I freeze a full water bottle so I have cold water to swig on as I put pedal to the metal. Melty hot tip – use a water bottle that you sip from with some kind of straw, not one you have to tip up. This way you can keep your eyes on the road instead of tilting your head back.

At the hotel

4. Reserve a room with a mini-fridge and find a grocery store. Or ….

5. Use hotel ice machines to keep your portable pantry refreshingly frosty and chilled. If you’ve packed only nutritious foods you won’t have to exert self-discipline to resist junk foods that aren’t there. I make sure to include breakfast foods for the first morning of a conference so I can sleep a teensy bit longer instead of waking early to find a restaurant, stand in long lines, or wait for room service.  (The truth?  I rarely use room service as I am frugal boomer all the way!) For me, even 30 minutes’ of extra sleep followed by breakfast from home of my favorite yogurt, berries, and cereal eaten calmly in my room makes a big difference in my event energy level.

More healthy options: dried fish, grains from ThailandWhen you return to your room at the end of the day, most likely you will be tired, with sore feet, bad hair, oily skin, and the urge to flop on the bed and go through all your notes, swag, purchases, and brochures. Or maybe that’s just me. Even if I think I am really hungry and ready to overeat a big dinner, that feeling is overpowered by sloth. Once in the room and on the bed, it’s hard to budge me. In such cases, I am happy to eat whatever is in my cooler. And remember, you are going to pack or buy only nourishing food in the first place. Voila! – good choices by default!

In Restaurants

6. If you do go out to dinner at the end of a convention day, bring fit, healthy friends and colleagues with you. Peer pressure really helps out in such times. Study after study shows that our food choices are influenced by the people we eat with. Do your convention dining with others who:

  • moderate their portion size
  • order an appetizer as the entree
  • split meals or bring home half to store in that oh so convenient fridge or cooler
  • skip desserts, breads, and high calorie, sweet drinks

And also read the post we did on Dining Out on the Road that gives you 5 usable and 5 “bonus” tips.

At the trade show and conference

7. Again, plan and pack! Stick portable, healthy snacks in your convention bag. Pass by the candy offered at some booths. Find the vendors with true fuel for your trade show wrangling, session bopping self.  Take advantage of the fruit available in presenter, press, exhibitor, and VIP rooms if you qualify.Healthy fruit smoothies from a stand in Thailand

8. Make time for lunch, even if it’s finding the one healthy meal for sale at the venue restaurant. If you rely on snacks and booth samples alone you will be so famished and fatigued by day’s end that every food will call your name. Over and over. Loudly and immediately. Even if it’s the WORST choice that you would never make at home, cross your heart and hope to indulge. Hunger does crazee tricks to our brain so do your best to maintain the snack and lunch timing you have at home.

Are those enough tips and tricks to keep you eating healthy when at events? (I really should say “healthfully” to be grammatically accurate). I sure hope so as I have to finish packing now to get to BlogHer in time. You’ll never guess the panel I am speaking on. It’s called “Healthy Habits.”  Off to have the healthy habit of making my flight!

Sure, we attend events; however we also speak at them. With energy and humor.  So why not hire us for your next meeting or conference?  Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email

Get great exercise and active aging advice by subscribing to our YouTube channel to access short videos that will improve your fitness level and make you happy! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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11 Responses to Eating Healthy at Conferences

  1. Tamara July 25, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    So many great ideas! Always hard for me to pack healthy food for on the plane; darn American customs won’t let me bring the apples, oranges, peppers and cucumbers that were grown in the states and shipped to Canada back over the border…

    Another tip? Don’t succumb to all the food samples in your swag bag (at least not all at once ;) )
    Tamara recently posted..Hiking with kids | combining outdoor activity with creative pursuitsMy Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit July 26, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

      Good point about bringing produce across borders. How about cheese, bread, nuts? Dark chocolate? The swag bags at BlogHer don’t have a lot of food, though there are yummy samples at booths. More important — BlogHer provides three meals each day. Did not know that before. Had some GREAT veggie tamales last night.
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..How to Choose the Right Sports BraMy Profile

  2. Jenn @comebackmomma July 25, 2013 at 10:10 am #

    Packing healthy snacks is so important, especially for the plane. That is where I tend to eat the crappy stuff. Thank goodness that more and more hotels and conferences are providing healthy options.

    • KymberlyFunFit July 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

      Turns out the BlogHer conference offers full food to all attendees. Veggie spring rolls, grilled veggies, good stuff. I am not tempted by airplane food, but the scents and sniffs of airport food sing a siren call I work to ignore.
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..How to Choose the Right Sports BraMy Profile

  3. Yum Yucky July 25, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    These are fantastic tips. I would love to follow these rules, but the honest truth is, I’m just too darn greedy. My stomachs are in need of therapy. ENJOY BLOGHER!!!
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Cyclospora Outbreak: Parasitic Stomach Bug Infects Nearly 300 across 9 States (so far)My Profile

  4. Jody - Fit at 55 July 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    GREAT TIPS no matter where you are traveling!!!! My hubby hates that I fill my whole carry on with food & part of my suitcase if I am bringing one. ;)

    Can’t wait to hear more about BlogHer!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..Gaining Weight on Healthy Foods – Can You?My Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit July 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm #

      Your husband is totally jealous of your organizing skills and healthy ways. I sense it. The fun parts of today included all keynotes – Ree the Pioneer Woman, Guy Kawasaki, Queen Latifah. ANd the panel I spoke on of course…..
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Running in Place: Do’s and Don’tsMy Profile

  5. Patricia Schwartz July 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    I’m sure the woman on the go can make use of most of these. Thanks for the tips! What snacks would you recommend that are easy to put together?

    • Fun and Fit July 28, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      Great question that depends on food preferences, taste, whether you have a cooler or not, and whether you follow a particular “diet” such as low carbs, Paleo, gluten free, etc. A few snacks I like to travel with include celery sticks filled with peanut butter, a hard boiled egg, fruit (except bananas, which I wish I loved as they are so nutritious and portable, but I just don’t like them), cheese and bagel, protein or energy bar, a baggie of assorted nuts, and…. wait for it….. some dark chocolate. My sister may have other, more interesting ideas as she bakes and cooks.
      Fun and Fit recently posted..Abs Exercise for Older Adults: No Head or Neck Strain with this No-Crunch MoveMy Profile

  6. Kay Lynn August 10, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    I travel via plan an average of once a month between work and personal travel. I always pack a lunch on the outbound but eating healthy on the return is sometimes hard. Also, BlogHer does offer good choices and a real meal for breakfast and lunch but dinner is really just appetizers at the various parties.

    My problem is getting off that whirlwind of eating when it’s over. Each year I get better!
    Kay Lynn recently posted..Review: Green Giant Veggie Snack Chips #GiantFlavorMy Profile

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