“We want our guests to gain five pounds when they spend a week with us at a meeting.”
In 2004, a general manager of a popular resort said this to me as I was touring his property. We were standing in front of the luncheon buffet, which was so loaded with high-calorie goodies that it could have served as the prototype of a gourmand’s dream.
How many times have you heard someone say (or said yourself), “Oh I’ll make an exception and eat this unhealthy food item since this meeting is a special occasion”?
That was my MO not that long ago. But the fact is, there are many options for healthy food to serve at a meeting, so attendees can shift this mindset.
The food & beverage world at meetings has gone through a lot of changes in the last decade. Today, the discussion is all about how to make meetings healthier and more productive through consciously changing the nature of the food being served and offering alternative activities to eating and drinking.
We all know that we should be consuming healthier foods on a regular basis. That is also the case at meetings. Below, I list ways that meeting planners are facilitating healthier meetings by changing the nature of the foods being served and by offering activities that support healthier eating during the meeting.
- Offer nutritional information next to foods being served and allow attendees to make the choice to be healthier.
- Don’t offer food at breaks. This sounds radical, but is it really? Meeting attendees have ample opportunity to sustain themselves at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Replace food-laden breaks with a physical-activity break. Organize different exercising options when people are out of the meeting room environment. It’s recommended by health professionals that each of us exercise 150 minutes per week. Give meeting attendees the opportunity to do this during formal breaks.
- Water, water, water. Make it the leading beverage option. Eliminate soft drinks. (Did you know that sugar-sweetened beverages are the single largest contributor of calories to the American diet?) Besides water, offer unsweetened teas, fruit juices, coffee, etc.
- Get rid of candy bowls in the meeting rooms. This is one that would certainly help me. As I sit in a meeting, I frequently mindlessly grab a piece of candy from the bowls. Before long, I see that I have put a significant dent into the bowl’s volume.
- Provide vegetarian options at each meal. We all know that vegetables are an essential part of everyone’s diet and that many of us should consume less animal fat. Offering vegetarian entrees takes us back to giving everyone a choice to eat in a more healthy fashion.
- Fruit for dessert. How many of us actually eat dessert at lunch on a daily basis? Yet at a meeting we always have a dessert put on the table at noon, and many of us say, “Just this once.” With a fruit option, we can have dessert—but it can be healthy.
These are just a few of the things conscientious meeting planners are doing to try to make their meetings healthier and more productive.
Want to discuss more ways to make your meetings healthier? Contact me at email@example.com or 609.466.9187 ext. 117.
By the way, these ideas were gleaned from some of our clients that offer productive meetings. They offer many more so check them out: