If you sit on a stability ball and fidget it helps speed your metabolise and manage your weight. Neat!
Clients often tell me that the hardest time to take care of their diet and exercise is when they travel for work.
They often cite breakfast buffets heaving with sweet pastries, coffee breaks with biscuits, and lunches of sandwiches, all without a fresh vegetable in sight, as the biggest challenges.
White grain carbohydrates in pastries, biscuits and sandwiches or wraps, can quickly turn to sugar in the body (on top of the sugar often in them as well) leading to bursts of energy followed by slumps.
People often tell me they return from work trips exhausted and soon catch a cold.
This is not surprising, as neither they, nor their gut flora which are important for a healthy immune system have been nourished. Fibre and plant chemicals in brightly coloured vegetables, herbs and fruit are important to feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut and boost your immune system. B vitamins are manufactured in a healthy gut for good mental health and to make energy in the body. No wonder people often say they are exhausted after being away.
Last week I attended the International Functional Medicine 2016 conference in San Diego, where more than 800 doctors and nutritionists from around the world met to share knowledge and new ideas. I was intrigued to see how the organisers hosting these health experts would work with the hotel (a Hyatt by the way) to meet our needs.
Generally the meals and snacks offered contained plenty of protein and vegetables and fruits low in sugars to keep energy levels steady and there was minimal sugar and white refined carbohydrates. The whole conference gluten and dairy free. Not widely advertised, but just there and delicious with no fuss.
Here was a typical conference day:
- 6am – yoga or dawn seafront walks on offer.
- Breakfast buffet: typically banana nut bread, real butter (yes if you’ve read my book The Gut Makeover you’ll know this is more healthy than alternatives), fresh chopped fruits berries and watermelon which are low in natural sugars, boiled eggs for quality protein. Herbal teas and coffees.
- Mid morning snacks – more herbal teas, coffees both with caffeine and without, a selection of milks including full fat dairy, coconut milk and almond milk. Small bowls of blueberries and raspberries and almond nut protein rich muffins.
- Lunch – typically quinoa, grilled chicken, asparagus, fresh herbs, vinaigrette dressing followed by a bowl of fresh blueberries with a square of dark chocolate on top. Black beans, or chickpeas for non-meat eaters. Lots of fresh vegetables and herbs included for adding variety to the diet and creating diversity of microbes in the gut for good health.
- Timing: The lunch break was two hours – brilliant, which meant time to rest and digest our food properly, and fit in some sunbathing for some vitamin D to boost our immune systems, by the hotel pool. Sometimes an agenda with less, means people get more out of it because they can keep up stamina for the long days.
- Afternoon break – rice cakes and a selection of nut butters. Rosemary or grapefruit infused water. Very refreshing!
- Standing desks and bouncy ball chairs were available at the back of the conference rooms for those who wanted to keep moving, and so avoid the dangers of being sedentary for too long. Remember as human beings we are designed to move, not sit on our bums nine hours a day! We were encouraged at the beginning of the conference by Dr Mark Hyman to fidget “a powerful way to stimulate your metabolism” and keep weight down.
- Dinner – lots of restaurant options nearby the hotel.
- We weren’t perfect though. Yes, I had some wine in the evening. Being surrounded by other people focussed on health, helped going off track too far. Who you hang around with at conferences really helps! As Dr Hyman said: “Getting healthy is a team sport”. It was brilliant to see 800 or so doctors dancing on the last night to a live band. The dance floor was rocking by 7.15pm, and I suspect it was fuelled by enthusiasm and high energy levels (it was all that good food they’d been eating) rather than alcohol, as the buffet and bar had only been open 45 minutes!