How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle While Chowing Down at Lunch Meetings

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While I have had those moments -- as we all do -- where I wouldn’t mind grabbing a doughnut from those massive pink cardboard boxes (or the green and white ones if you are a Krispy Kreme lover, like me), or tuck into that third slice of pizza from the center of the conference room table, I know these are not the right choices.

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Sure, those snacks were the diet of choice in my college days, but they don't give me the fuel I need to work around the clock nor do they add years to my life (though they do add unwanted inches to my waist line!).

But this is an issue I have to deal with. Because I am always on the go. Whether the event is a lunch or dinner meeting with a potential customer or partner, or a conference where I'm speaking, I'll rarely eat a "normal" lunch.

Nevertheless, I am learning to eat healthy at those lunch meetings, and I’m trying to help others make better choices, too. Here’s how I maintain a healthier lifestyle while at work and on the go:

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  • I bring healthy snacks with me when I can’t be sure there will be anything healthy available. There are many healthy snacks that come in snack-size bags or in standard containers, such as nuts, apples and grapes (I also like bananas).
  • I carry water wherever I go, to stay hydrated. This helps me avoid the sodas and sugary juices that might be offered. The water tends to fill me up faster, so I generally eat less and keep the cravings at bay. Sometimes, I add cranberry juice to the water or another flavor, like lemon, to mix it up a bit.
  • I also choose the healthiest items at a meeting or at least shrink my portions. I don’t want to offend my hosts, but I need to keep my diet on track. If there are just bagels and doughnuts for breakfast, I’ll opt for half of a bagel. It’s one day, and it’s not going to blow my whole regimen as long as I stick to moderation.
  • Sometimes, I’ve been asked ahead what I would like to have at a meeting. That’s when I request healthy items, especially fruit and vegetable platters, which are refreshing and provide a natural energy source to stay awake through all-day meetings. Additionally, I might suggest low-calorie, low-fat andwiches or hot entrees, including vegetarian options. At longer meetings, where three meals and snacks are provided, I try to ensure that I can get healthy options across the day because they'll help keep us all more alert rather than falling victim to the afternoon carb crash.
  • When selecting a resturant for a lunch or dinner meeting, I choose someplace with only healthy choices. You may hate my choice because it lacks those amazing burritos you love to devour, but it's helped me to stay healthier.
  • I have only healthy items at my desk. This helps me when I'm blogging about my personal brand or sitting on customer service calls for my invoicing company . . . I don't have unhealthy choices lying around.

One thing I’ve learned while focusing on healthier choices at meetings and at my desk is that my actions tend to influence others. When they see me picking out healthy items or bringing my own, there is a positive effect on their behavior. My office is starting to prefer the healthier options I’ve selected for our meetings, and the junk food has gradually disappeared.

As a result, I see new levels of energy and alertness even hours into a meeting --- plus we are all a few pounds lighter. The next step will be an exercise component to meetings for team building and idea generation. I’m personally ready to take the meetings to the pavement, to "run through" some of our agenda at certain meetings.

I think everyone would agree that will make meetings healthier and more fun.

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