Healthy Eating at a Conference. Possible?

I have returned my annual 4 day love-fest that was BlogHer 08 with the same souvenir I brought home last year. A cold. I’m proclaiming an allergy to too much conditioned air; good think I don’t like in a region where even in my own home I’d have to have conditioned air most of the time. (why I will never move to Texas).

Most of my thoughts and reactions about the weekend will be posted on my personal blog. But there is one important point that fits better here.

As I have been teaching myself to eat healthier, I have changed the way I eat in ways that make “conference catered” food completely unsatisfying to me. I thought I was prepared for some of the challenge. I wasn’t.

I eat a diet made up about 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat. The carbs can be broked down even more into about 20% veggies, 10% fruit and 10% whole grains. Rarely do I eat processed grains. My fats are olive oil, nuts and fish. BTW, a dairy allergy precludes eating the cream cheese that represented both the source of fat and calcium at the conference.

So my body was not prepared for a breakfast of pastries and fruit. A literal smorgasbord of white flour products and quickly absorbed sugars with little fiber. I dashed up to my room and kept a bag of almonds with me, nibbling on 7 or 8 every few hours to try and keep the blood sugar even.

Lunches were similar. Salads had small portions of protein (thank goodness), bits of salad and then pasta with some kind of sauce. And of course desserts. Snack times were cookies and milk. Cocktail parties offered hors dvours with protein but aside from salads, veggies were in short supply.

Yet, because the event is socializing, the temptation is to stay with the venue and talk and nibble and pay for it all later.

Oddly, I didn’t gain weight on the 4 day carbo-palooza. By Sunday, however, I was melting down from exhaustion and dehydration. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t speak, there were times that I simple broke into tears.

Yes, there was a lot of stimulation at the conference. Yes, Saturday night I got less than 7 hours sleep. But logical or not, I’m going to blame my poor choice of sticking with the conference food instead of seeking out better food on my own as the major culprit.

I know when I was 35 and first tried to eat healthier, I cut back on proteins and added more grains to our diet. My weight, instead of going down went up. I became addicted to TUMS to deal with a constant heart burn. I was easily dehydrated and could pour gallons of water down with little effect.

I’ve been doing the same these last few days.

OK. So my gut doesn’t like wheat or wheat flour. I can take it smallish doses once in a while. I cannot take it every day, every meal.

Next year, I will have to plan ahead. Bring some Bob’s RedMill Muesli and pick up some soymilk. Soak them overnight for my breakfast in the morning. Carry more nuts and protein powder. Accept that 2 meals a day will have to be acquired somewhere outside the venue.

Act like an adult and do what I must do to keep myself healthy.

But boy, does this play into the discussions we’ve had recently about how eating healthy can feel like “disordered eating.” More on that later this week.


5 responses to “Healthy Eating at a Conference. Possible?

  1. its a consipiracy. each year they try and take you out with some exotic disease because your blog is so good, yet each year they fail.

    kudos, immune system, and keep on bloggin’

  2. I felt the same way about the food offerings — even though I liked this year’s conference better than last year’s, I thought the food in Chicago was better (more options).

    I felt like a complete slug by the time I got home! Food I don’t normally eat, coupled with not nearly enough exercise as I usually get? Not so good.

    It was FABULOUS getting to talk to you in person! :)

  3. I can relate. I have gained 4 lbs in the last few weeks and I am trying to figure out where it came from. The only thing I can think of is the outings I have been going to with my co workers. Well of course they want to go to places that don’t serve the “healthy” foods I am used to and so I have to improvise. This is a challenge in itself. Thanks for this post it makes me see that there is hope for me. Glad you had a great trip hope to go next year and meet all of you. Thanks for inspiring me to do better and stay fit.


  4. being an adult sucks.

  5. I agree about the food. Breakfast was the killer. Not having an ounce of protein to start the day, really reeks havoc with your blood sugar. Next year, surely they could have small containers of yogut – they are portable and at least provide some protein. For snack they could have protein bars and/or small individual portions of nuts/trail mix (to prevent the spreading of this “blogher virus”. I know a lot of bloggers who ordered breakfast off room service the 2nd day just to get an egg….

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