Healthy Eating for a Healthy Meeting

Lunchtime often provides a crucial moment to refresh during a hectic workday, conference or meeting. But without carefully considering the nutritional value of this midday meal, people can often find themselves in a post-lunch slump, or even tugging at their tightening waist bands as the weeks go by.

Seemingly balanced lunch options can hide a lot of calories. A typical boxed lunch of a turkey sandwich, apple, small bag of potato chips and cookie can stack up to almost 1,400 calories. With national nutritional guidelines recommending approximately 700 calories per meal, eating those extra calories even once a week can add up to gain of more than 10 pounds per year.

Sugary sodas, juices, and other artificially sweetened beverages also play a leading role in sabotaging healthy eating. Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, asserts that Americans drink 46 gallons of soda and sweetened beverages each year, contributing to consumption of 71 pounds of sugar and 85 pounds of corn syrup annually.

Kaiser Permanente has made it easier for its employees, patients, and visitors to enjoy healthier options without the guess work and calorie counting through guidelines containing criteria for making healthier food choices. Established in 2005 by the Healthy Picks Committee – a group of registered dieticians, food service directors, nutritionists and physicians – these guidelines help determine what options are available to hospital patients and in cafeterias. The guidelines also serve as the basis for Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Catered Food Policy, which requires vendors who provide meals for on-site meetings and events to provide healthy food options, like at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health.

The Center for Total Health is committed to partnering with organizations to host healthy meetings that drive focus and creativity by serving nutritious food and incorporating activity into meetings that can otherwise be sedentary affairs. By requiring that caterers who provide food for the Center adhere to the policy’s guidelines, event organizers and attendees are rest assured they’re enjoying healthy and delicious meals during their meetings.

Taking a cue from Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to healthy eating habits, workplaces and employees can work together to get everyone involved in sharing healthy meals:

  • Encourage employees to make water interesting by infusing fruits, vegetables and herbs, like in these healthy drink recipes;
  • Provide healthier on-site beverage options – like sparkling water, tea and coffee – instead of sugary beverages;
  • Plan a Smoothie Social and provide employees with information on the excessive sugars found in many prepared smoothies, and then work together to make healthier smoothies that include unsweetened yogurt as a protein and base, whole fresh fruit instead of juice, lots of nutritious greens like spinach and kale, and add-ins like nuts, spices or herbs; and
  • Host a BYOS (Build Your Own Salad) event and invite employees to bring in their favorite ingredient for a salad bar.

The Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health hosts internal and external educational events. All events – including annual banquets, quarterly meetings, trainings, interviews – feature healthy catering options and can be customized to incorporate the interactive exhibits that make the Center for Total health experience both fun and informative for attendees. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, please send us an event request via our website. We look forward to hearing from you!

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