November 4, 2019

How to Stay Whole30 Compatible at a Work Conference


I’d planned to join the Whole30 community for the #SeptemberWhole30, but at the end of August I found out I would be traveling for work in September. I’d be attending a conference where I had quite a bit of responsibility for the content: I had planned some of the content; helped find panelists for the conference; and I would be writing session recaps. It would be busy, stressful and I would be out of town for an entire week in September.

Looking for more Whole30 Business Travel tips? Read our Business Travel 101 article.

Committing to Staying Whole30 Compatible at a Work Conference

This trip had the potential to make a Whole30 even more difficult. I started to waffle on the commitment I made to myself.

After thinking it over, I realized I really needed a reminder of how great I could feel if I just eat foods that agree with my system. I owed it to myself. Yes, staying compatible while traveling for work would be hard, but I knew I could do it if I committed. So I did, and that was that.

I’m proud to say, I completed the program on October 2nd and I feel great. The bloat in my tummy is gone, my face doesn’t feel puffy anymore and I am waking up easier and more cheerful. I also learned a lot about how to stay Whole30 compatible at a work conference. Here are a couple of things I did to set myself up for success, I hope they’re helpful to you!

Instacart Is Your Friend

As soon as I arrived at the hotel I logged into Instacart and had a few essentials delivered to my room. I ordered a case of Lacroix, nutpods for my morning coffee, and bananas. Having these items in my room allowed me to feel like I was pampering myself, even while on the Whole30.

Every morning I turned on the in-room fireplace and brewed a cup of coffee, made perfectly with my nutpods creamer. I crawled back into bed, sipped my coffee and enjoyed the warmth of the fireplace while I watched reruns of the West Wing and answered emails. Pure Vida.

You could also take a page out of Melissa Urban’s book and time a Thrive Market order to be delivered to your hotel on the day you check in. Click here to see the Whole30 Approved section at Thrive Market.

Always Come Prepared

Half of my suitcase was filled with Whole30 compatible snacks. I packed RXBars, EPIC Bars and Justin’s Almond Butter Packets. I knew that in order to be successful, I needed to make sure I never got too hungry. That meant having a snack on me at all times!

I purchased and packed the items that were available at my local grocery store, but you could also try CHOMPS, DNX Bars, Brooklyn Biltong, Nick’s Sticks, The New Primal Beef Thins, Elements meals or packets of Georgia Grinder’s Almond Butter. There are a lot of Whole30 Approved products meant to support you through Whole30 “emergencies” just like this.

Can I Get You A Drink?

No thanks, I’m fine. Or… Sure! I’ll have a club soda with lime. (No further explanation needed).

Mixers and happy hours are often a part of work conferences. There’s no reason you can’t network with a sparkling water in hand, but if you feel peer pressure to drink at conference mixer events, go to bed early. (And take advantage of the Lacroix you had delivered to your room!)

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

I went into the conference assuming that I wouldn’t be able to eat any of the meals provided. But a coworker encouraged me to talk to the hotel kitchen staff about my dietary restrictions to see what, if anything, was compatible.

This was really outside of my comfort zone. I was raised to not be picky about food; just eat what is provided. I didn’t want people to see me making a fuss. Everyone in the buffet line would see me talking to the kitchen staff and what would they think?

But I knew that if I didn’t do this, I would be eating RX Bars for the entire week.

The hotel staff were AWESOME. I found someone from the kitchen and I explained my dietary restrictions to them as discreetly as possible. They took notes and then went back to the chef to ask what was compatible and what wasn’t. Then, the staff member came back and walked me through the buffet line and told me what I could and couldn’t eat.

There turned out to only be three meals that I couldn’t make work during the entire week. In that case, the kitchen was kind enough to make me something compatible. It was a lot of work, yes. But 100% worth it in order to be able to eat more than just the snacks I brought from home for the entire week.

Was business travel during my Whole30 hard? Yes. In fact, at times it was exhausting. But I am here to tell you that with some planning and determination, it is absolutely possible to stay compatible while traveling. I ended that week incredibly proud of the effort I made in my professional life, all while honoring myself by staying Whole30 compatible at a work conference.

Samantha Chalmers is an account director for a public relations agency by day, and passionate home cook by night. Right now she is in the process of teaching herself to cook Indian food, as a way to create and maintain a connection to her heritage.

In her free time you can find her exploring the Denver food scene with her husband, walking their two pups, traveling and learning as much as she can about personal finance. She’s kind of a nerd like that.

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