Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
A few days ago, Ashley attended an all-day conference. Conferences can be challenging food situations because the options can be limited and information about ingredients can be scarce (both before and during the event). It is similar to eating in a professional setting. Here are some ideas to make it a bit easier to eat when you attend a conference.
Before the event:
- See if there is food information on the website. Sometimes conferences will list their menus or even let you request a specific meal (gluten-free is most common, which is good because gluten-free often means soy-free). Even if specific food information isn’t available, it can be useful to see what the food-related sessions are to make educated guesses about what soy-free options might be available (e.g., a sit-down dinner is going to have different soy-free options than a buffet).
- Research nearby food options. If you need to grab some food during the conference, it can be beneficial to know what options are nearby. This way you can be confident that you'll find something to eat and you know that you won't need to run around day-of to find a soy-free meal. (e.g., finding a Chipotle nearby can put to rest worries that you won’t be able to eat anything. If you end up not being able to eat the provided food, you know you can always run out and grab a burrito.)
- Pack plenty of food. Plan to not be able to eat the food, and bring enough food for the whole day as best you can. This doesn’t need to be a packed lunch and could be something as simple as several Larabars in your backpack to hold you over until you can grab a soy-free meal. Having your own (guaranteed soy-free) food is a must. It takes the pressure off of needing to evaluate and eat the provided food and allows you to concentrate on the conference, not on your food.
During the event:
- Evaluate the available food and make educated guesses about what you can and cannot eat. If you need to, and someone is available, ask about ingredients. Sometimes the food will be catered from outside vendors (think: Panera boxed lunch), in which case you can use your knowledge of the vendor (and/or quickly find their allergen menu online) to figure out what does and doesn’t contain soy.
- Eat what you can. Eat the food that you can safely eat, and avoid the rest. No need to over think it (especially since you packed plenty of snacks). If you aren’t certain if a particular food contains soy, don’t eat it. It isn’t worth the risk of feeling bad for the rest of your day.
- Be a good sport about it. Conferences are professional settings and other people are watching. Handle your food requirements with confidence and politeness (and don’t make a big deal about it). This will go a huge way in helping you not be that “person who can’t eat soy” to your colleagues.
A little planning and preparation goes a long way to enjoying a conference and not worrying about the food options.