As a business owner, I attend my fair share of conferences throughout the year. Like airports and amusement parks, a conference often makes you feel like you have no choice but to eat the food that is offered. Often, those offerings a full of fat, calories, sodium, and sugar — all things that you are supposed to have in small quantities.
The more I’ve focused on my health, the more I have come to realize I can still eat healthily at conferences, despite the donuts, hot dogs, French fries, and soda.
Here’s how I do it:
1. Eat Outside of the Conference
You can hit the hotel for breakfast and dinner and find a nearby restaurant for lunch to gain more control over your food choices. Having a large breakfast back at the hotel fills me up and keeps me from reaching for those unhealthy conference snacks. The hotel tends to offer a breakfast buffet where I can get plenty of fresh fruit and lean proteins. Having lunch and dinner at the hotel or a nearby restaurant can also help me avoid foods that give me the afternoon drag.
2. Bring Some Healthy Choices Into the Conference
Many healthy options are easy portable. Bottled water, trail mix, protein bars, and fruit are all easy to slip into a bag and carry around the conference.
3. Get Some Exercise
There’s a lot of sitting at most conferences, so I try to get some exercise by walking the exhibit floor or talking a stroll around the convention center. This gives me a way to enjoy a bit of the local color while I work off those calories and get my blood pumping.
I also like to stay at a hotel that has a 24-hour gym so I can squeeze in an early morning or late night workout. Plus, if I do sneak in any conference food, that exercise can help me balance out that moment of weakness.
My fitness tracker tells me how many steps I’ve done for the day, allowing me to make sure I’m staying on top of my goals even when I’m away from my home base.
4. Take Vitamins
Multivitamins are essential to my daily regimen. They ensure that, even when I’m away at a conference, I hit my recommended daily allowance of the vitamins and nutrients that my body and mind need for optimal performance. I pack a small bag with just enough vitamins for each day while I’m at the conference.
5. Choose Moderation
When I do have to attend a cocktail party or some special event that may involve numerous temptations, I don’t want to be rude and not partake. However, I make sure that I stick to moderation, rather than grabbing an entire tray of appetizers. It’s okay to enjoy some of these special catered events that occur at conferences — especially when they are thrown by potential clients or partners.
Even when I don’t completely adhere to my healthy strategy for conferences, I don’t give up or kick myself for giving into temptation. Instead, I regroup and start again. When I started out, I didn’t accomplish every action listed. I built on just one or two areas to get myself to an overall healthier stage, until I could meet each goal.
This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.
John Rampton is the founder of Palo Alto, California-based Due, a free online invoicing company specializing in helping businesses bill their clients easily online. You can connect with him on Twitter: @johnrampton.