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Nutrition Tips for Corporate Event Planners Print

Nutrition Tips for Corporate Event Planners by Andrea Holwegner RDFood is an important part of any event. When you gather a group of people together in a confined or restricted venue for a professional meeting, convention or conference, event organizers need to create a culture of health and wellness that meets the expectations of corporate clients and meeting attendees. Many people are trying to eat and live healthier and expect choices that match their lifestyle.

According to meeting planner Tracy Stuckrath,

consistent to all generations is the growing concern with healthy food

Corporate event planners must design meetings that support the business goals of their clients. Today, employee wellness and productivity are top concerns of corporations and business of all sizes. Meeting planners who design meetings that are not only efficient and cost-effective but that also result in higher attendee retention and participation earn the repeat business and recommendations from satisfied clients.

Workplace wellness initiatives are battling a cake culture that regularly provides sweet, sugary treats for employees as a reward, an incentive, for celebrations or as part of a meal. Employees are increasingly concerned about their personal health and actively seek healthy food options both at work and at home. According to professor Nigel Hunt, dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons,

for many people the workplace is now the primary site of their sugar intake and is contributing to the current obesity epidemic and poor oral health

Poor nutrition, overeating or heavy meals lead to feelings of fatigue, sleepiness and disengagement – not the qualities you want in your meeting attendees! Providing nutritious and delicious meals and snacks at meetings provides a brain boost: attendees will have improved concentration, be more attentive and have increased creativity.

Healthy Meals Boost Productivity, Energy and Alertness

The average continental breakfast offers limited protein and is heavy on sugars and carbs, break options typically focus on caffeine and starch, and unbalanced lunch menus leave meeting attendees feeling sluggish.

To maximize attendee energy and provide healthy options for meetings, conferences and events, consider these menus and meals that follow nutrition best practices for meeting planners:

Continental Breakfast: 

Skip pastries and request all breads be whole grain, rye and multi-grain. Be careful not to solely offer muffins and bagels, since these foods don’t have enough protein, and attendees will get sleepy. Add a source of protein such as peanut butter, nuts, yogurt cups, cottage cheese, cheese cubes or hard-cooked eggs.

Serve fresh fruit trays, coffee, tea, water and unsweetened juices.

Hot breakfast: 

If you are offering a hot breakfast, go for whole grain toast or whole wheat pancakes with scrambled eggs or a vegetable and cheese egg frittata. Round out the meal with oatmeal, fresh fruit salad, yogurt, bran cereal, coffee, tea, water and unsweetened juices.

Cold lunch: 

If you are bored with standard wraps and sandwiches, consider a salad bar. Serve bowls of spinach, mixed greens and vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers and grated carrots. Serve chicken, shrimp and beef in cubes or on skewers. Include alternative protein sources such as chickpeas, cheese cubes, grated feta, pumpkin seeds and slivered almonds. Serve several types of vinaigrette salad dressings and don’t forget to include whole grain buns and bread for some complex carbohydrates for brain fuel. For dessert, serve small bowls of fruit crisp.

Hot lunch: 

Offer a buffet of dark green mixed salad greens, whole grain buns, seasonal mixed vegetables, chicken or beef entree with limited added fat, and rice or oven roasted yams and potatoes prepared with a small amount of oil. For vegetarians, offer vegetable lasagna, lentil curry or tofu stir-fry. For dessert, serve chocolate dipped strawberries and a fruit tray.

Coffee breaks: 

Serve more than just coffee and tea, since attendees need energy to get the most out of your event. Save on cost and improve nutrition by offering jugs of water and skipping pop. Infused water dispensers are flavourful, colorful and enticing:

  • Orange wedges
  • Raspberries and blueberries
  • Watermelon cubes and mini key limes cut in half
  • Splash of unsweetened juice
  • Thinly sliced cucumber and fresh mint leaves

Best healthy snack attacks:

  • Sliced fruit tray and cheese cube tray
  • Yogurt parfaits (yogurt, berries and granola)
  • Whole grain crackers and cheese platter
  • Bruschetta on whole wheat baguette with cheese
  • Deviled eggs and raw veggies and dip
  • Whole-wheat pita bread wedges and hummus
  • Trail mix or individual bowls of nuts and dried fruit
  • Snack-size unsweetened fruit and yogurt smoothies
  • Shrimp with cocktail dipping sauce and whole grain crackers
  • Mini bran or oatmeal muffins, yogurt cups and fresh fruit salad cups
  • Mini skewers of satay chicken, beef or shrimp, and veggies and dip
  • Regular or decaf lattes, tea lattes
  • A bowl of fresh fruit

As a Registered Dietitian and professional speaker, I’ve experienced being hired to speak at a conference on the topics of nutrition and productivity, only to watch the attendees exit my session and head straight for tables loaded with cookies, cakes and caffeine; or to address an audience who has just returned from a lunch heavy on carbs and low on protein. Don’t blame the meeting attendees: they’re typically rushed, stressed and simply eating what’s provided, whatever their personal preference might be. As The Chocoholic Nutritionist™, I’m not suggesting you forgo sweets at meetings altogether: just use moderation, and offer alternatives.

Rather than offering large trays of squares, a variety of rich desserts and giant cookies instead offer fresh fruit trays with downsized treats. Go for bite-sized brownies, mini cookies, tiramisu in small shot glasses and single chocolates instead of bars. This allows for mindful eating with a twist of indulgence.

Brain Food Helps the Bottom Line

By offering healthy menu options, event planners can improve the results of their meeting for both attendees and for their corporate clients. A meeting menu including delicious and nutritious brain food meets the bottom line: both attendees and meeting sponsors get a better return on their conference investment. And event planners get satisfied clients, great participant evaluations and build their business.

Motivational Speaker Specializing in Health, Nutrition & Stress Management

Does your conference, government group, corporate team or association members have high-stress, fast-paced work demands and need top-notch health and productivity to keep up with the pace? Does your team struggle with their weight and have health and wellness concerns that are resulting in higher health benefit costs, more absenteeism and lost productivity? Andrea can help!

What Events Are a Good Fit for Andrea?

When you or your client:

  • Are looking for a fresh perspective on the topic of health, wellness and productivity.
  • Needs a mix of relevant, rich content mixed with entertainment and fun.
  • Want a high-energy, fun speaker that can connect with a broad diverse audience.
  • Need a change from the usual approaches to stress management, time management, productivity or personal development.
  • Are experiencing heavy work demands and high stress and need strategies to help boost personal energy and resiliency.
  • Are looking for a new, more specific session related to health and wellness instead of the usual general health and wellness speakers they have had over the years.

Best Audience Overview

Your conference, government group, corporate team or association members have high-stress, fast-paced work demands and need top-notch health and productivity to keep up with the pace. Your audience struggles with their weight or juggling optimal health and wellness.

For more information on hiring Andrea Holwegner as your health, nutrition and stress management speaker please contact Andrea. 

a version of this article was previously published on LinkedIn

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
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Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
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Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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