In my “real life” I work in meeting and event planning. No, not weddings or high-end parties like Rachel Hollis, of Party Girl and Girl, Wash Your Face book & coaching fame. I work in the corporate/government side where you go to learn serious, albeit boring, things. But you get fed, watered and there’s usually a cash bar at the end of the day.
The problem with most of these types of all-day meetings and training sessions is that they are full of carbs and you’re sitting, ALL DAY.
As a conference planner and frequent long meeting attendee, I’m going to help you navigate the carb-saturated world of conferences, meetings and catered events as a Diabetic.
Tell them what you need. In general, there is a better, overall awareness of the ADA and accommodation standards amongst catering companies and hotels these days, but once and a while you’ll have to deal with a small company that may not know or understand it all. The preferred way is to tell your event organizer when you register or soon after, that you would like to know what they’re serving or even ask them for a specific meal. Trust me, it is not a big deal. We always order a couple vegetarian and gluten free meals even if no one asks up front. It makes us feel good to help one or two actual people out of the sometimes 100s of attendees, with something specific. We helped someone!
Don’t count on breakfast. Unless there’s a hot, eggs and bacon breakfast on the menu, you’re going to receive the continental, which means…carbs and more carbs. I’ll be honest and say it sucks to have to pass or only eat 1/2 of one of the fresh doughnuts, bagels, pastries and even the create-your-own-granola-bar. Caterers try, but most of the time they just don’t get that granola is not for us when they coat it in locally sourced honey or serve only regular, sugar-filled yogurt or fresh berries in heavy syrup (isn’t that an oxymoron?) Plan ahead and eat at home or bring your own healthy bar of choice to eat with your coffee.
Banquet chicken is your friend. Yes, I said that. There’s always chicken at a catered lunch. Why? Because it’s the safest protein to serve and one of the cheapest. It’s generally served with a starch, a steamed vegetable and a fresh salad. You can go for all of these and your blood sugars will be alright, as long as you can guesstimate that starch correctly-maybe pass on the bread? What I usually do at a buffet: fill my plate with salad and put one or two! of those chickens right on top. I mean really, is it ever that warm? Perfect, low-carb chicken salad. If its a plated meal, you can ask your server to make you a salad which will be the same as what I do, expect a bit prettier, or request only chicken and extra vegetables, etc. They are there to feed you, don’t be afraid to ask! There is so much waste in catering, you’re not going to steal anyone’s portion.
Don’t forget water. Seems obvious, right? But many of us are deceived…you sit all day, trying to stay awake and are drinking ALL THE CAFFEINATED BEVERAGES! But, if you’re like me, getting just a bit dehydrated can make blood sugars get a little stuck in the higher ranges, add that to not moving most of the day, that 1/2 of doughnut and you’re in for an uncomfortable time. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of regular water-which has 2 extra benefits: making you have to pee, which gets you up and moving AND gets you out of that super boring presentation!
If you’re low. Find your server, bartender or service person. They are the gatekeepers to all the juice and carbs you may need. Don’t feel bad or worry if you don’t have change or a $1, they’re not going to charge you. (Haven’t we all gone on those weird, mental adventures when we’re low?) They’d rather help you now than have to call an ambulance if you pass out later. The registration people usually have plenty of snacks too, as they’re forced to sit in one spot all day-trust me, I know! If all else fails, that all-day coffee station will have sugar packets and even honey packets-if you’re lucky!-that are a quick source of glucose. Mix with a touch of hot water, which is probably lukewarm by now, to make it tolerable.
I hope this helps you out the next time you have to attend a work conference or an all-day meeting and you’re a Diabetic.