New Toolkit Offers Tips for Healthy Meetings and Events


April 10, 2014

A new Healthy Meetings Toolkit proposes swapping out doughnuts, croissants, and pastries for small whole grain bagels or mini-muffins, and makes other recommendations for the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks typically served at meetings and conferences. The Toolkit, developed by the 450-member National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is intended to help event planners, meeting coordinators, hotel chains, human resources directors, and others who make food and beverage decisions for conferences and workplace meetings.

Americans spend half of their waking hours at work, and the food served at office meetings and conferences is often high in fat, added sugars, and sodium, and lacking in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, according to CSPI. The Healthy Meetings Toolkit provides sample menus for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners served at events as well as a number of substitutions for beverages and snacks typically served at work events. Eliminating sodas and other sugar drinks in favor of beverages with 40 calories or less, or better yet, pitchers of water, is a key recommendation. Instead of serving box lunches comprised of white bread sandwiches, chips, and a soda, the Toolkit proposes serving whole grain sandwiches or wraps, fresh fruit, and water or seltzer.

"Participants usually don't have a lot of good choices when food is served at meetings and conferences, and generally are served doughnuts, soda, pizza, and other unhealthy foods," said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. "Hospitality is a good thing, but our workplaces and conferences shouldn't be promoting weight gain and diet-related diseases. The good news is that with a little bit of effort, and not a lot more expense, it's easy to offer foods and drinks that promote good health in the workplace."

The Toolkit offers strategies for working with hotels and caterers, and tips for reducing calories, sodium, and trans and saturated fats. For instance, fresh vegetables served with hummus, salsa, or low-fat dressing would make a good substitution for chips and dip or a cheese platter. The Toolkit has advice on providing activity breaks and other opportunities for movement at meetings, and model tobacco-free and sustainability practices.

Organizations, worksites, state and local governments, and others are encouraged to take the healthy meeting pledge at HealthyMeeting.org.


 

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