I’ve been to a lot of trade shows. From Vegas, to Orlando, to D.C., to San Diego, to Fargo, to Atlanta, to San Antonio, to San Francisco, to Puerto Rico – there is one thing that absolutely never changes: the food. Normally I’m a big fan of consistency. Take In-N-Out Burger for example – anywhere you find that signature yellow arrow, you know you’ll get a fresh burger, hot fries, and if you’re in the mood, a creamy vanilla shake. Trade show food, however, has a bit less favorable type of consistency – it’s ALWAYS terrible.
Forget about trying to eat healthy. Who’s ever heard of Protein, Vegetables, Grains, and Dairy? The four types of trade show food groups should actually be: Something Fried, Something Drippy, Something Soggy, and Something Fishy. Some of my absolute favorites from over the years would be the “over-boiled-in-mass-quantity gray-centered-eggs”, the “antique-leather-boot Prime Rib roast” (a recurring feature), and my all-time favorite – the “cockroach-essence French rolls” (a completely different story in and of itself). I used to truly believe that it’s impossible to screw up a sandwich, but not anymore – I’ve had one (or two) of those along the way too.
To add insult to injury, most events are so crazy that you’re only able to eat one or two of these terrible meals a day. The starvation approach does offset the fact that the infamous 6:30 a.m. breakfast tends to cut into any possible gym time. I often joke about getting plenty of leg workouts during a tradeshow walking around in my heels, but in reality, there’s nothing that makes up for the fact that you can often go days without even seeing a fresh veggie that’s not covered in salt, slathered with butter or drowned in oil.
Of course, this strategy could also lead to the worst possible scenario: the day you find yourself cleaning your plate – and even commenting to your lunch neighbor, “Wow, that was pretty good!” Right then and there, you know you’ve been overcome by a full-blown case of too much trade show food.
My advice: back away from the buffet table and plan for success. I never leave home without my emergency supply kit containing dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, and homemade energy bites…because you never know when you’ll need a peanut butter banana low-carb tortilla wrap at midnight in National Harbor, Maryland (not that it’s ever happened to me).