Angela Steel picks out a healthy dozen of tips for organisers who want their delegates to meet and march on healthy minds and stomachs.
Remember your last conference, meeting or expo? As you roamed the floor, were you scanning the crowds for interesting delegates?
Lunching a journalist recently, I passed him the menu, but rather than scan it for food, he proof-read it for errors! I’m similar. For the past 10 years, my team and I have specialised in corporate nutrition and wellness, helping business leaders better support their workforce by improving their physical and mental wellbeing in the office environment.
Attending conferences and meetings, I’ll scan events for ways organisers could have planned better, tricks they’ve missed to improve the visitor experience, small operational changes that might have boosted commercial returns for the host.
At your last event did you feel drained of energy after lunch? Eyelids drooping during the early-afternoon session? Did you ponder leaving early? My consultancy, SuperWellness, helps raise businesses’ awareness of how food choices can sap, or boost, productivity.
So, here are my top 12 tips for organisers on how to improve your event and energise your delegates:
1: Don’t crash on the blood-sugar rollercoaster
Most granolas, flapjacks and cereal bars have a sugar content of 30%. Such snacks strap your delegates onto a blood-sugar rollercoaster that drains energy and brain power.
2. Don’t go bananas on fruit drinks
Free-flowing smoothies and juices contain excess fructose, wreaking havoc on our metabolism. Limit your delegates to just a couple and pick the healthiest low-sugar fruits, strawberries and blueberries.
3: Raise energy levels with colourful crudités
Plant foods packed with nutrients and antioxidants boost brain and energy levels, so treat delegates to an invigorating rainbow of colourful crudités, from red radishes to yellow peppers and purple carrots.
4: Pick protein-rich snacks
Unsweetened nuts, seeds and dips like tzatziki, guacamole and hummus hold hunger at bay and keep delegates energised, able to network after lunch, and not inclined to slope off early.
5: Offer savvy vegan and vegetarian options
Non-meat eaters dread lacklustre plant-based options at events. High-carb, low-protein foods leave them bloated and exhausted. Swap jacket potatoes for fragrant lentil dahls or falafel kebabs.
6: Use healthy fats as brain-boosters
Oily fish, salmon, trout, herring or mackerel, avocados and bowls of seeds are brain foods that will keep your attendees sharp, firing on all cylinders.
7: Chill out with cool carbs
Carbs like pasta and potatoes are healthier cooled, becoming lower in blood-sugar-hiking starch and high in resistant starch. Aiding your delegates’ digestion, they’ll feel more comfortable all day.
8: Go gut-friendly
Post-Covid, mental health, immunity and digestive health are key nutrition issues. With bugs in your gut closely connected to your brain, offer health-conscious delegates fermented pickles, succulent sauerkraut or Korean kimchi.
9: Hydrate to accumulate
Our cognitive function becomes impaired if we’re even 2% dehydrated. Coffee leaves delegates ‘wired but tired’, green teas add focus, but naturally flavoured waters, lemon and cucumber, raspberry and lime or blackberry and ginger, keep networkers flowing.
10: Factor fresh air into floorplans
When sunlight hits your retina, the feel-good, mood-boosting hormone serotonin is released. When fresh air hits your lungs, oxygen in your blood energises your whole body. Design your floorplans so delegates can access both – and they’ll stay positive about your event.
11: Cater creatively for special dietary requirements
Delegates with food sensitivities often endure uninspiring, highly processed options. Now one in five of us is gluten-free, cater creatively choosing tasty, natural ingredients like buckwheat, quinoa and gluten-free oats.
12: Weave in a nutrition workshop
An informative nutrition talk, workshop or seminar spices up your agenda, offering delegates insights into how to improve their wellbeing and performance. A going-home takeaway to savour.
Angela Steel is the founder of corporate nutrition consultants SuperWellness. The consultancy has supported over 100 businesses using bespoke programmes and challenges to improve their teams’ physical and mental health and fitness at work and at home. Visit: superwellness.co.uk