Written by Leigh Cowlishaw, Managing Partner Balancing Edges and HBAA Board Member.
When an emotional trigger is activated, whether a positive or negative one; we have a natural tendency to reach out and react. This reaction can be to celebrate, or it could indeed be to have the opposite effect and impact our Mental Health.
Either way food can play a part in balancing this process and in some cases over doing our attitude to food can be part of the cause, as well as a potential solution. Poor eating choices can then put us into a vicious cycle; we eat more to make ourselves feel even better, the effects are short term, the crash is harder, so we do it all again, things can easily spiral …
In the events and hospitality industry, there are many highs and lows, and this is down to the pressure and fast pace that we operate in. Our Mental Health will be on a journey with us throughout these experiences, and our cardiac signature will be presenting differently throughout this process, and food can help.
Whether looming event delivery deadlines, late nights, unsociable hours, having to grab food on the hoof, or indeed attending an event, food and drink is involved. We will all consume what is perceived to be out of our ‘normal eating habits’ and our relationship with what we are putting into our mouths at that time could and will change.
As a delegate, food also pays a huge part in whether, in their opinion, the event / meeting was a success and warranted their commitment. This food experience, in some cases, is more important than the content itself and will become the key talking point and the most rememberable aspect of their time investment. Equally, delegates can easily over indulge due to being spoilt for choice, and they often have a tendency to see food as ‘their’ right, and to pile on different combinations on to their plate, just because it is there, and do away with the careful choices they would make if at home or paying for a meal in a restaurant.
As an industry we must continue to practice self-care and aid good Mental Health; a healthy relationship with food, whether attending or organising, is required to remain calm and resume ‘normal habits’. Venues are really starting to support this way of thinking, and advising organisers and delegates on how the quality of food provided will aid good Mental Health and support how the content is absorbed and translated back to businesses.
Portion sizes and controls are also becoming more of a focus now, and not just because of how the chef will make their G.P, but because of the considerable effects on sustainability and the need to reduce food waste, as well as looking out for the delegate themselves.
Personally, I do feel there are still steps to be taken, especially with simple things like the what is offered at coffee breaks; while there are increasingly more balanced options, the pastries, biscuits and other ‘binge items’ still remain. If you walked out for your 15-minute break and checked your emails, networked and had a coffee, the quickest consumption would be to stuff a single item in your mouth whilst trying to chat and multitask. Conversely, one could enjoy more ‘green’ (environment and food!) with the understanding that this is actually good for you and can provide the nutrients and mental space your body could be craving.
This all plays a massive part in how we feel in ourselves, but also the learning cycle and eventually the delegate satisfaction and overall event success.
Investment in your Mental Health should be your biggest ‘Time Investment’ and as we know, the events and hospitality Industry can quash our time; therefore, use it wisely and reach out for the right fuel required and the right amount.