My Food When You Have an Event

Some things are impossible to separate: Peanut butter from bread, Dr. C from his phone, Dr. R from his Cavs jersey (and salmon!). Here’s another: food and work.

No matter what line of business you’re in, there’s a good chance that your work will somehow overlap with eating. Let us count the ways: a lunch meeting, baked goods in the office kitchen, candy passed around the conference room, a happy hour, the vending machine, “Who wants to go in on a pizza?!”

This can be a pretty tricky way to live—especially for folks who are always on the go or who constantly attend social functions that involve a lot of gabbing and a lot of gobbling. After all, it’s one thing to know what to eat, how to prepare it, and when to eat when you’re the one doing the cooking. But it’s quite another when you’re surrounded by trays of mini-hot dogs, cheese dips, and plum-size bonbons that have a four-digit calorie count.

Let’s be clear: Occasionally partaking in less-than-healthy food at social events isn’t going to make you unhealthy. But if you always succumb to the barrage of buffets, that could mean trouble when it comes to your health—and frankly, you won’t perform as well with the wrong kind of nutrients.

It has come to our attention that you have recently fallen prey to mid-meeting munchies and after-hours hors d’oeuvres. We offer the following tactics for making strategic decisions that will allow you to reach your daily and annual goals, and we are excited about the opportunities that await as you make the smartest investment in your life:

  • Prep your pregame :

If you know you’re attending a function where there will be lots of unhealthy options, have an apple (maybe two) before you go. Not only will you preempt some potentially indulgent behaviors, but you’ll also load up on fiber and other nutrients that will help fill you up and reduce the urge to eat everything you see.

  • Hydrate and caffeinate :

Water, water, water. It works well before the function, and it’s smart to constantly sip it during the event as well. Water can help stop you from drinking too many alcoholic beverages (stay away from ones that are mixed with empty-calorie sodas or sugary mixes, by the way). In addition, having coffee at hand will take the edge off and give you something to sip on so you’ll have less of a drive to fill your meeting plate with the doughnuts that are passed around.

  • Survey the landscape :

Anytime you’re in a buffet situation take time to see everything before you take something. That way, you can make strategic decisions about what you really want to eat. Multiple all-you-can-eat options tend to trigger your basic biological urge to eat all you can; if you’re having trouble controlling your inner Neanderthal, remember that you can eat as many vegetables as you want.

  • Focus on the work at hand :

In these party scenarios, food is often the backdrop to what you need to be doing work-wise, whether it’s networking, presenting, or listening. Therefore, you have a greater risk of engaging in mindless eating. Really think about the purpose and joy you get from the work itself. When you’re engaged in the subject, you’re less likely to be distracted by bacon-wrapped shrimp.

  • Make a promise :

We know that you’re not going to avoid every single nutritional party challenge every single time. But if you know that an upcoming event  has the potential to contribute to bad health, try this one little trick: Promise yourself you’re going to have some vegetables (carrot sticks or sautéed greens, for example) and some kind of lean protein (grilled chicken skewers or shrimp cocktail). Make a commitment to those things first, and then you can dot the rest of your night with a few unsavory characters. In addition, pick one food that you will avoid at the event. This will allow you to eliminate one problem food while still sneaking in a few bites of another.