1

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eating at conferences -- practical tips?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 09, 2011 at 5:09 PM

I usually go to 1 or 2 out-of-town, 2-4 day conferences a year for work, and traditionally have used that time as an excuse to eat/drink whatever the hell I want. My first conference since going paleo about a month ago is coming up at the beginning of November, and I want this time to be different.

I'm not too worried about dinner -- I'll be eating in restaurants in the evenings, and it's easy enough to find something relatively paleo at most places, and this is in Salt Lake City, which looks to be crawling with steakhouses (yum! says the former vegetarian). But the breakfast, lunch and break-time buffets at these things are usually LOADED with muffins, bagels, sweetened "yogurts", wraps, sandwiches, chips, pasta salad, etc. etc. etc. Typically there's some kind of fruit at breakfast, and some kind of green salad at lunch, but I need my fat and protein to stay satiated (and tolerable to be around). If I'm freaking starving, it will be hard to say no to a turkey sandwich, you know?

So any tips? I'll be in a hotel, so can't cook, though I should have a little fridge (though no access to it during the day). What should I/could I bring? (I'm flying, so no liquids greater than 3 oz!). If I can find a convenience store (doubt there'll be a proper market, since I'm staying in the convention neighborhood) nearby, what could I look for there? Non-perishables to carry with me at the conference? Other strategies?

Thanks!

82a8b7c6e7f67787c2b16bd595db510e

(253)

on October 18, 2011
at 11:00 AM

Oh, well if you're a nurse at least you don't have to contend with the "The beer is free, why aren't you drinking it!?" crowd, right? :) The only time anyone asked me what the hell I was doing picking the bun off my mini-burger, he was just interested because he'd been low-carb but had fallen off the wagon. So it might be opportunity for conversation if they do bring it up!

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 13, 2011
at 04:35 PM

Just came across this: may be a useful read re IF. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting/summary

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 13, 2011
at 03:28 PM

I normally eat 3x a day, but what I've found is that the idea of allowing myself a little flexibility (not crazy cheat-day binge eating) at dinner by IFing and having a paleo lunch is very easy. I could be wrong, but I suspect that a physiological inability to go from dinner to lunch the next day (typically 17-18hrs) without food, suggests that one hasn't really become sufficiently adapted to burning fat or there's some other nutrient deficiency. Grok wasn't eating 3 squares!

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 03:00 PM

Thank you so much! Lots of great tips! I admit I'm a bit nervous about people asking what the hell's wrong with me -- I'm an RN and we nurses tend to have strong opinions about what's healthy/not healthy. I'm keeping the "gluten intolerant" card in my back pocket just in case; but I'm glad to hear it hasn't been a problem for you!

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 02:58 PM

Thanks! No liquids or liquid-like stuff (yogurt, I bet) allowed on planes these days. But some of the solids might work...

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 01:10 PM

Interesting! With my old diet I skipped breakfast frequently (and then ate like 5 million calories of carbs for lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, and then late night snacks, thinking "I skipped breakfast!"), but since going paleo I'm finding I want to eat three times a day. I may try IF in the future though -- it sounds really convenient.

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 01:07 PM

Yeah, it is only for a few days, so I'm not going to freak out about what fat my steak in cooked in. But I have found already that if I eat any wheat (had two slices of the best pizza in town the other night, just for old times sake; a couple of weeks ago I ate pasta at a friend's house to be "polite") I feel like crap almost immediately and then for most of the next day -- also triggers cravings for other grains and sugar (even though I'm literally groaning with bloating) -- gah. And grains/sugars seem like the hardest things to avoid at these events. Thanks for the input!

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 01:01 PM

Thank you -- some good ideas! Alas, I think the TSA would think my coconut milk was explosive. But I do dairy, and I bet I can get cream somewhere near the hotel.

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on October 09, 2011
at 06:27 PM

I really like this idea. At conferences, I usually find breakfast to be the most challenging unless you want to eat at the hotel restaurant beforehand and get eggs, etc. Grassfed jerky is a staple for me during weeks such as these as is scrambling up a dozen or so eggs and taking them with me. Throw a bag or two of frozen veggies in the cooler to keep them cold enough during your flight.

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5 Answers

2
82a8b7c6e7f67787c2b16bd595db510e

(253)

on October 10, 2011
at 11:44 AM

I've been paleo for about a year and I've gone on at least 15 conferences/trips since then. I don't cheat at conferences as it isn't usually worth it for me.

If you have a fridge and a grocery store within walking distance, you're good. Olives, canned sweet potatoes (I asked and the deli opened the can and put it in a resealable container for me!), hard boiled eggs, prosciutto, salad, smoked salmon, etc. That stuff is great for dinner or breakfast.

Last time I didn't have a fridge I was at a week-long workshop in the middle of nowhere (staying in a dorm, no good restaurants, etc) and I practically lived on avocados and canned sardines, but I lived. I don't focus so much on eating "real good food" as I do avoiding bad food since it's just for a short period of time.

Also those pouches of tuna in olive oil are good and it's really easy to stick a ton of them in your bag without adding weight or bulk.

I consume heavy cream so one tactic I employ if I'm without a refrigerator and think lunch is going to be only sandwiches or pizza is to have a heavy cream latte in the morning. Lots of coffee shops have heavy cream and will use it in a latte if you ask. That's a ton of calories and will keep you full and not eyeing those disgusting breakfast pastries everyone else is eating for "breakfast."

Beth mentioned IFing which is a great strategy. If you've only been paleo for a month you might still be hungry on a pretty regular schedule, but eventually you may be able to go for 8-12 hours without eating with no problem, which makes travel really easy.

When I'm at the conference during the day I'll bring nuts in my bag in case I get hungry and sneak off to snack on them during the breaks. I'll also pretty unabashedly eat A LOT of the little pats of butter (you know, the ones that say "heavy cream, salt" in the ingredients that they bring everyone else to put on their rolls) on my chicken or salad or whatever they happen to be serving for lunch that I can eat to pack some extra calories in.

No one's ever said "What the hell is wrong with you!?" so my strange diet has never interrupted my networking capabilities. :)

Another tip -- I carry my own To Go Ware bamboo utensils: http://www.to-goware.com/store/cart.php?m=product_list&c=7

No problem getting them through TSA and they work great.

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 03:00 PM

Thank you so much! Lots of great tips! I admit I'm a bit nervous about people asking what the hell's wrong with me -- I'm an RN and we nurses tend to have strong opinions about what's healthy/not healthy. I'm keeping the "gluten intolerant" card in my back pocket just in case; but I'm glad to hear it hasn't been a problem for you!

82a8b7c6e7f67787c2b16bd595db510e

(253)

on October 18, 2011
at 11:00 AM

Oh, well if you're a nurse at least you don't have to contend with the "The beer is free, why aren't you drinking it!?" crowd, right? :) The only time anyone asked me what the hell I was doing picking the bun off my mini-burger, he was just interested because he'd been low-carb but had fallen off the wagon. So it might be opportunity for conversation if they do bring it up!

2
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on October 09, 2011
at 06:10 PM

I would pack a travel cooler full with non-liquid items to bring on the plane, then keep in your hotel fridge and also bring some canned sardines , nuts, seeds and jerky in your suitcase. You can bring what you want for the day down with you since you say you can't go back to your room all day. I would make the priority proteins and fats, of course, so here are some ideas: cold roast meats that you prepared ahead of time at home, cold baked salmon, smoked salmon, hard boiled eggs, salami, cold roasted chicken...you could fill your cooler with individual servings of meats! Maybe make a nice fatty dressing as well, and combined with the salads provided, you should be able to create satisfying meals away from home. You could also bring cans of coconut milk for tea and coffee to add some fats. or to mix with chia seeds for a pudding.

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on October 09, 2011
at 06:27 PM

I really like this idea. At conferences, I usually find breakfast to be the most challenging unless you want to eat at the hotel restaurant beforehand and get eggs, etc. Grassfed jerky is a staple for me during weeks such as these as is scrambling up a dozen or so eggs and taking them with me. Throw a bag or two of frozen veggies in the cooler to keep them cold enough during your flight.

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 01:01 PM

Thank you -- some good ideas! Alas, I think the TSA would think my coconut milk was explosive. But I do dairy, and I bet I can get cream somewhere near the hotel.

2
Ec7cb2a7a68655954a01f03e95be1383

on October 09, 2011
at 05:20 PM

Uhm...You can bring anything you want if you have a fridge.

What about Jerky, cooked eggs, dried fruits, nuts, avocados, fruits, raw vegetables, pre-cooked soup/broth, sausages or meatballs, cold pre-cooked meat, cured meat or fish, some dark chocolate, raw cheese & yogurt (if you consume dairy) or nut cream.

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 02:58 PM

Thanks! No liquids or liquid-like stuff (yogurt, I bet) allowed on planes these days. But some of the solids might work...

1
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 09, 2011
at 07:27 PM

I've worked out a scheme when I travel where I skip breakfast (aka travel IF!), eat a paleo lunch (a can of tuna or salmon works; I like Vital Choice's 3.5oz cans with the pop top), and a nice fat (I picked up some individually wrapped coconut butter servings from Artisana, but you could easily make your own), and then go with the flow for dinner. It's not strictly paleo, but I've also made do with just having an ounce or ounce and a half of really dark chocolate.

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 01:10 PM

Interesting! With my old diet I skipped breakfast frequently (and then ate like 5 million calories of carbs for lunch, afternoon snacks, dinner, and then late night snacks, thinking "I skipped breakfast!"), but since going paleo I'm finding I want to eat three times a day. I may try IF in the future though -- it sounds really convenient.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 13, 2011
at 04:35 PM

Just came across this: may be a useful read re IF. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/intermittent-fasting/summary

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on October 13, 2011
at 03:28 PM

I normally eat 3x a day, but what I've found is that the idea of allowing myself a little flexibility (not crazy cheat-day binge eating) at dinner by IFing and having a paleo lunch is very easy. I could be wrong, but I suspect that a physiological inability to go from dinner to lunch the next day (typically 17-18hrs) without food, suggests that one hasn't really become sufficiently adapted to burning fat or there's some other nutrient deficiency. Grok wasn't eating 3 squares!

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 09, 2011
at 06:11 PM

Don't get bogged down with what you might eat over a few days time, but concern yourself with maintaining the overall paleo principles over the long haul. If you can only do "50%" paleo for a few days, just compensate with "100%" paleo when you get back to average it all out.

Minimize your exposure to crappy oils and gluten. Ideally you can keep free of these offenders for the trip. But if that's so troublesome, just minimize them. Figure out which negatively affects you most.

For me, keeping a good balance of fats is key. I'll take a good dose a fish oil with any questionable meal. I'm actually pretty good with gluten/wheat as long as I don't over-do it too much.

D7ec5ab98a0b971f9e24b4e654abfa7d

on October 13, 2011
at 01:07 PM

Yeah, it is only for a few days, so I'm not going to freak out about what fat my steak in cooked in. But I have found already that if I eat any wheat (had two slices of the best pizza in town the other night, just for old times sake; a couple of weeks ago I ate pasta at a friend's house to be "polite") I feel like crap almost immediately and then for most of the next day -- also triggers cravings for other grains and sugar (even though I'm literally groaning with bloating) -- gah. And grains/sugars seem like the hardest things to avoid at these events. Thanks for the input!

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