Healthy eating at meetings

Adapted from Public Health -Seattle and King County’s resource “Healthy Eating at Meetings

As kids go back to school, they hear the familiar refrain that eating healthy meals helps them do better in school. But don’t forget that balanced meals and snacks can also help adults at work. Eating well on the job can help employees sustain their energy and focus despite busy schedules and long meetings.

If you are in charge of organizing food for a meeting, the following tips will help you select healthy options for attendees. Tips are adapted from Public Health – Seattle and King County nutrition resources.

Crudite boxes
Raw veggies with low-fat dip make for a great meeting snack

Consider your event and audience

Are you planning a meeting for a small team of colleagues, or a larger group? You may already know the preferences of people you work with closely, but it is a good idea to ask attendees of a larger meeting about their allergies or dietary restrictions in advance. Consider offering vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, as well as culturally appropriate food, like halal or kosher options, and labeling food items if possible.

If you are meeting with a smaller group in a facility with dishwashing access, you can opt for reusable serving items like ceramic plates and mugs. If you are serving a larger group or don’t have access to dishwashing facilities, choose compostable or recyclable products.

Food-label
Labels can help those with allergies or sensitivities avoid problematic ingredients

Healthy food choices

The following are some simple guidelines: choose foods that are low in fat, particularly saturated and trans fats; whole grains instead of those made with refined white flour; fresh fruits and vegetables; avoid options with added salt or sugar; and offer pitchers of water instead of bottled water, to reduce waste. If you can find local, Washington-grown sources for food items, even better!

Depending on the time of day of your meeting, try these ideas:

  • Breakfast: Fresh fruit, yogurt and low-fat granola; whole grains like whole wheat bagels, muffins or quick breads; proteins like hard boiled eggs, low-fat cream cheese and peanut butter.
  • Lunch: Salad with low-fat or fat-free dressing on the side; sandwiches made with whole grain breads or wraps made with lean meat, low-fat cheese and condiments; pastas with low-fat sauce; at least one vegetable, steamed or raw.
  • Snacks: Fresh fruit, raw vegetables, granola bars, low fat cheese or string cheese, roasted nuts, whole grain crackers.

Making nutritious food available at meetings supports attendees’ health and can improve the productivity of your meeting, too. Got a great meeting snack to share? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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