It’s conference time – time off from work, no household chores, great food and it’s free. Expect to feel exhilarated by all the new information you will take in, yet, wonder why by the end of the trip you feel like you’ve been run over by a steam roller. You may have trouble keeping awake during the long days inside, with no windows in conference rooms and many speakers to listen to. Don’t be surprised if at the end of the conference you end up with a bad case of jet lag. You may feel bloated and irregular. So what can you do to get the most out of conferences and still feel half human?

Being aware of your meals and snacks might help to ease the upset in schedule and to your system. You can be sure that meals will include rich desserts and often there will be plenty of muffins or chocolate chip cookies for snacks. So you think, “a little won’t hurt”. And it’s true a little won’t hurt – if you can stop at ‘a little’. Too much sugar may result is a dip in energy, and mental fog.

A large dose of dense carbohydrates (sugar, bread, desserts, cakes), with its brand of empty calories, can temporarily raise your blood sugar (as can caffeine), so that you feel a high, lots of energy – but not for long. An hour or two later, your blood sugar may plunge and you begin feeling lethargic, not able to concentrate. You begin thinking, “if only I could have a little nap!”

Remember that food alters your mood, and good wholesome foods such as fruit and vegetables nourishes the mind and body along with aiding regularity. Most conferences now include yogurt or fruit for snacks. It would be a good idea to reach for these high energy snacks. If there’s a grocery store near the conference centre, the following is a list of healthful snacks that will feed your brain and body and keep you alert! Some items such as power bars, you can bring with you.

Perfect snacks for high energy include:

×    fresh fruit – apples, peaches, plums, grapes etc. along with nuts or seeds

×    dried fruit; dates, figs, cranberries

×    power bars that contain protein

×    vegetables (baby carrots or cherry tomatoes) and nuts

×    nuts (raw almonds and walnuts) sunflower or pumpkin seeds

×    yogurt and fruit

×    cheese and fruit (or whole grain crackers)

These high powered snacks provide you with the needed protein and complex carbohydrates that your mind and body loves. In small amounts, they won’t make you fat, yet provides your body with needed nutrients. If your concentration is getting low, you just might be thirsty. Carry bottled water around with you and drink often. Water helps prevent dehydration, jet lag and boosts energy.  Some form of exercise – even walking around the block before the conference starts or at breaks will give your muscles an oxygen boost. You’ll feel revived, especially if the sun is shining outside.

Regarding desserts, on a scale of one to ten, have a taste and if it’s a ten, don’t feel too guilty and enjoy, or take a few bites. Otherwise, if the dessert isn’t great, the sugar content may not be worth it.  If it’s a dessert that contains fruit, remember that fruit supplies the body with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

Enjoy the conference; enjoy the meals. However, a few small changes may just help in your overall mood and concentration level so you can be fully aware, energetic and vital.

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