How to eat well at work events

If you attend a lot of events for work or professional development you’ll know how hard it is to resist platter after platter of canapes and alcohol. While it’s very hard to turn down a free drink or a cheese board, all of this grazing can quickly add up to a high calorie, nutritionally empty meal. Follow these tips for healthy eating at your next event.

1. Call the venue

If you have any intolerances or allergies, call the venue and ask if they can cater for you. Even though I don’t eat a lot of foods, when I went to AAT’s Annual Conference last year I was served the most delicious meal that wasn’t just salad; a novelty at big events. They even gave me a gorgeous spread of fruit for dessert. They knew all of this because of a quick phone call. It’s 100% worth calling ahead to get this sorted before you arrive; they were more than helpful when I rang. It’ll reduce the stress on the evening and it is one less thing to think and worry about while you’re there.

2. Bring healthy snacks

Buy or make in advance healthy snacks to carry around with you to nibble on throughout the event. Unfortunately, when we’re really hungry, we want food quickly and go to eat the first thing we see. Most of the time it’s fast food or unhealthy snacks such as crisps. Plan ahead by having a selection of snacks on you to reach for when the hunger growls arrive. I suggest a bag of mixed nuts or trail mix, energy bars such as Nakd bars (in most supermarkets) or The Primal Pantry bars, medjool dates or a banana. Steer clear of dried fruit as this has a lot of sugar in and while it may give you a short term energy boost by boosting your sugar levels, unfortunately what goes up must come down; cue an energy crash. I also recommend taking a vitamin B12 supplement every day for a month or six weeks leading up to the conference to help boost your memory and battle brain fog.

3. Sleep

If you’ve got an all day event get a really good night’s sleep. When we’re well rested, our brain performance is high and we take in what’s around us. When we are lacking in sleep, our body naturally goes into ‘survival mode’ meaning it uses up all the remaining energy just to keep vital organs going. Our brain doesn’t take in information as well, meaning our performance is low and we find it difficult to remember things. So grab an early night beforehand to be focused and energetic when you arrive.

4. Make sure you eat

Running on an empty stomach will do you no favours. Our bodies needs to be fed often (think of a fire – no logs, kindling or newspaper = no fire) otherwise we burn out. I recommend eggs for breakfast –  healthy fats will help brain function. Skipping breakfast will only result in binge eating, lack of concentration and an irritable mood. At lunch and dinners get as many colours on your plate – the more colours, the more nutrients.

5. Stay hydrated

Drink lots of water for energy. It’s natural when we’re concentrating for long periods of time to feel more tired than normal. But while we may automatically reach for the coffee, pause and really consider whether that second or third cup is really necessary. I carried round with me a big bottle of water that I sipped on throughout the day. I felt so much more energetic being properly hydrated that I didn’t think about coffee after my usual mid-morning cup. Drinking water removes toxins from the body and allows our brain to function better. By not drinking enough water and having too much caffeine (caffeine is a dehydrator), dehydration can rapidly occur. This causes brain fog, tiredness and lack of energy.

6. Pace yourself

If you’re partial to a glass or three of wine during dinner, aim for two glasses of water for every glass of wine to reduce the foggy head. Better yet, stick to one glass of wine and then stay on the water or soft drinks. While it may be tempting to relax and unwind with alcohol, it will reduce your brain power the next day while your body focuses on removing unwanted toxins and it’s also sabotaging all the great healthy things you did for yourself on Day 1 such as eating a good breakfast and lunch, and drinking lots of water. Why ruin that!

Chloe McGuire is an AAT student and health blogger.

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