Revised on
11/18/19 11:36am

Healthy Meeting and Event Guide

Photo of a team meeting with healthy food options

Guides and Resources for Meetings

This list of resources was designed to help event planners create a meeting environment that makes the healthy (and sustainable) choice the easy choice for their guests.

Quick Tip Guide

Healthy meal and snack options along with short activity breaks result in more focused and attentive participants.

Healthy Meals and Snack Tips

  • Snacks that fit a healthy eating pattern include:

    • Nuts, Air popped popcorn, Roasted Garbanzo beans and whole or cut fruit

      • Some fun ideas:

        • Create a trail mix bar – variety to choose from: nuts, dried fruit, roasted wheat berries

        • Yogurt topper bar – use plain yogurt with plenty of fruit and nuts for topping

        • Create your own fruit skewers – wooden picks and cut seasonal fruits

  • Meals should include a healthy protein – think fish, beans, tofu or poultry - and whole grains with plenty of vegetable. Fruit makes a great dessert!

  • Make water available, always.

Activity Tips

  • Move and stretch for three minutes, for every hour of seat time.

  • Incorporate walking, standing, breakout groups or other physical activities into the agenda.

  • Include opportunities for participants to practice mindful pauses and meditations.

Sustainability Tips

  • Choose reusable everything whenever possible. Use compostable products if reusable isn’t an option.

  • Plan your menu to avoid leftover food and serve food bulk style, rather than individually packed to save packaging waste. Serve water in pitchers

  • Provide bins for and education about recycling and composting. Label them with words and pictures. Order bins with a Facilities Management work order.

Healthy Meal Model


  • Choose water (tap, sparkling, infused), unsweetened coffee and tea.


  • Choose non-starchy vegetables and whole fruits, in a variety of colors. They provide fiber, a variety of nutrients and make the meal more appealing.

Healthy Proteins

  • Choose plant-based proteins (tofu, beans, lentils, seeds/nuts and nut butters), lean meats (skinless poultry, seafood), eggs, and plain yogurt.

Whole Grains

  • Choose unprocessed grains (brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, steel cut oats) when selecting side dishes and baked goods, pasta and tortillas. Whole grains are more filling and nutritious than refined grains, and can help with weight control and boost energy levels.


  • Enjoy – Olive and canola oils, nuts and seeds, nut butters, hummus, avocado, tuna, and salmon are sources of heart-healthy, unsaturated fats.
  • Limit – Saturated fats found in red meat, deli meats, high-fat dairy products (butter, cheese).
  • Avoid – Trans fats, found in some processed foods, fried foods, and baked goods made with partially hydrogenated oils.

Celebration and Potlucks

Promote healthy and sustainable food celebrations in the office too!

Potluck Tips

  • Create a sign-up for fruit, vegetable, whole grains and vegetarian choices.  Instead of ‘salad’ have a sign up for ‘bean salad’.
  • Award prized for best vegetable dish, most creative vegetable and fruit platter, or best use of whole grain.  Make healthy fun!

Theme Ideas

  • Small Bites – Skip the main course!  Offer simple items such as shrimp salad in avocado ‘dishes’, mozzarella and tomato skewers, veggie lettuce cups and hummus with fresh veggies.
  • Signature Dish – Challenge team members to make their favorite dish as healthy as they can by tweaking the recipe.
  • Salad Potluck – Assign healthy salad bar toppings and let folks create their own salad from healthy ingredients.
  • Color Luck – Have people select a color and bring a dish naturally rich in this color.
  • Seasonal/Farmers Market – Prepare dishes using seasonal fruits and veggies.
  • Burrito Bowls – Each person brings a part of the healthy burrito bowl, e.g. brown rice, quinoa, chicken, tofu, sautéed veggies, lettuce, beans, salsa, etc).  If you provide tortillas, get whole wheat.
  • Secret Ingredient – Have folks get creative and bring a dish with a healthy “secret ingredient”.  Examples include Black Bean Brownies, spiralizer zucchini “zoodles”, vegan nacho cheese dip, etc.

Other Tips

  • Provide ‘mini’ portions for those that like to sample many dishes, to discourage overeating.
  • Request condiments be placed to the side for self-service. 
  • Everyone brings their own plate and cutlery to avoid paper waste. 

Guidelines for Meals and Snacks

Breakfast Tips

  • Baked goods – provide whole-grain options in “mini” versions or cut larger portions in half. Avoid pastries.
  • Fruit – whole or sliced fruits are a better option than juice.
  • Protein – serve eggs or yogurt instead of processed meats like bacon and sausage.



  • Eggs (hard-boiled, scrambled, frittata with vegetables)
  • Fruit (platter, salad, whole)
  • Breakfast burritos with eggs, beans, salsa, and vegetables
  • Whole-grain baked goods (bread, muffins, and bagels). Choose healthy accompaniments (nut butters, whipped cream cheese, sliced vegetables)
  • Oatmeal with accompaniments on the side
  • Plain yogurt, with toppings (fresh fruit, frozen berries, nuts)
  • Fruit (platter, salad, whole)
  • Whole-grain bread or English muffins. Choose healthy accompaniments (nut butters, whipped cream cheese, tomato and cucumber slices)
  • Plain, instant oatmeal (have hot water available) with accompaniments on the side (fruit, nuts, cinnamon)


  • Sandwiches and wraps – provide whole-grain breads and tortillas, healthy proteins (roasted turkey, grilled chicken); and nutritious condiments (hummus, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, leafy greens and other vegetables).
  • Salads – top greens and sliced veggies with protein (tuna, grilled chicken, hard-boiled eggs, beans). Provide healthy toppings (avocados, nuts) in place of less healthy options (cheese, bacon bits, croutons, crispy wonton strips). Choose vinaigrette dressings and serve them on the side.
  • Desserts – serve whole or sliced fruit. If serving baked goods, use small portions.



  • Sandwich halves on platters
  • When ordering boxed lunches, choose entrée salads or sandwiches made with lots of vegetables on whole grain breads or wraps. Ask the caterer to substitute fruit for the cookie and a vegetable side dish for the chips. Serve dressings and other condiments on the side.
  • Baked or grilled chicken, turkey, fish, tofu
  • Broth-based soups instead of creamy soups
  • Create your own salad bar (salad greens, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, other sliced veggies, chopped nuts, rinsed beans) or choose a pre-made salad.
  • Make your own sandwich or wrap (turkey, chicken, marinated tofu, assorted vegetables, hummus, mustard, vinaigrette, avocado)





  • Vegetable platter with hummus or guacamole
  • Vegetables (roasted, steamed, grilled, stir-fried)
  • Green salad with vinaigrette dressing on the side
  • Pasta or side salad incorporating brown rice, quinoa, beans, whole-grain couscous
  • Fruit (platter, salad, whole)
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds

Note – any of these can be sides in a boxed lunch.

  • Raw vegetables (baby carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes) with hummus or guacamole
  • Vegetable platter
  • Fruit (platter, salad, whole)
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Trail mix containing primarily nuts and unsweetened dried fruit
  • Plain yogurt with accompaniments (fruit and nuts)


  • Water – served in pitchers or a dispenser. Consider water infused with cucumber, citrus or strawberries. Encourage participants to bring their own beverage containers and point out the nearest water station.
  • Unsweetened beverages – provide regular and decaffeinated coffee, and tea. Low-fat milk (cow, soy, almond) is the preferred creamers.
  • Other beverages – carbonated water with a splash of 100% fruit juice is an option. Limit fruit and vegetable juices to 4-8 oz. portions.

Active and Mindful Meetings

Keeping muscles active and moving can circulate fresh blood and oxygen into the brain, triggering the release of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals. Movement also increases energy, which participants can use to make the meeting more productive.

Suggestions to Make Meetings More Active

  • Include items on your meeting agenda that require participants to get out of their seats (breakout groups, stand and write ideas on an easel).
  • Choose movement friendly meeting locations (walkable neighborhoods, on-site gym, nearby park).
  • Hire a professional instructor (pilates, yoga, tai chi, stretching, Zumba) to lead a class before or during the meeting.
  • Point out the stairs and encourage attendees to use them. Consider including the location of stairs in meeting directions or putting arrows to the stairs in front of elevators.
  • Organize a group walk early in the morning, during a break or before/after dinner.

Standing Breaks

  • At least once an hour, participants should be encouraged to stand up to improve blood circulation, boost metabolism, and relieve physical discomfort from sitting for prolonged periods of time.
  • Announce that it is fine to stand up and move around, as needed. If possible, provide raised tables for those electing to stand during the meeting.

Stretch Breaks

  • Stretch breaks help participants wake up their bodies and minds.
  • Encourage people to stand up and stretch in place. Select 3-4 different stretches from these examples provided above. Most can be performed seated.

Breathing Exercise

Focused breathing is an energizing activity that can help relax and clear your mind. Simply inhale for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.







50 - 60 min





2 - 4 hours






All Day







Meeting Mindfully

Adapted from Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, 2018

Interested in making your meetings more effective and engaging?  Consider infusing mindfulness into your meetings.  The following are guidelines to support your efforts in conducting a mindful meeting.  Feel free to use all or some of the following tips.

Before the Meeting

  • Agenda: It can be helpful to share an agenda for the meeting to create a shared understanding about the purpose of the meeting.  This will help your participants show up prepared.

During the Meeting

  • Arriving:  During the first couple of minutes of the meeting invite participants to take a deep breath, lower their gaze and be silent. (If you’d like, you can invite attendees to bring their attention to the experience of touching the surface below them.) Silence involves not talking or gesturing and putting aside mobile devices for the duration, too.  This exercise will help your attendees gather their attention and more effectively transition to the content of the meeting. You can set an alarm or ring a bell at the end of the silent period.

  • Attention can become fragmented by ongoing digital notifications on devices such as phones, tablets and laptops during meetings. At the start of the meeting, consider asking attendees to silence their digital devices and put them out of visible reach unless necessary.

  • Establishing Group Norms:  For meetings that will recur, consider establishing norms for discussion. This will help attendees have clear expectations about how to engage in discussions. Below is a list of suggested group norms:

    • Curiosity and Open-Mindedness:  be open to others' ideas and ask questions to clarify and understand before sharing your own.

    • Acknowledgement: Acknowledge that others have a worthwhile view, even if different from your own and you disagree.

    • Attention: Remove distractions so that you can keep focused on the meeting.  If feeling unfocused, participants can ask for a quick break to refocus.

    • Monitor thoughts and emotions: Pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings before responding and be clear about your intention for speaking to avoid responding in a reactive way.

  • Check-In: Take a few moments to allow each person to check in.  You can conduct check-ins with the whole group together or in pairs. Check-ins help attendees better understand and connect with each other.  If checking in with the whole group, the leader should go first to model to the remaining participants how to check-in with openness and authenticity.  The following are suggested check-in prompts:

    • How are you right now?

    • What would you like to get out of this meeting?

  • Review agenda and intentions for the meeting (e.g., action items, decisions, answers to questions). 

  • Foster more effective discussions by creating a meeting culture in which people have time to pause before they are expected to speak or respond. The meeting facilitator/leader could explicitly communicate this intention and then model it for the attendees for the duration of the meeting.

  • Closing:

    • Recap action items, decisions or answers to questions.  This helps attendees prioritize and organize information.

    • Consider closing the meeting with a silent 1 minute pause to allow people to more effectively transition their attention to what’s next.

After the Meeting

  • Send meeting notes including any recap of decisions and action items to participants.  This will help attendees stay focused on next steps.

For longer meetings or departmental events:

  • Incorporate breaks throughout the meeting that allow an opportunity for participants to clear their minds. This will help bring focus and energy to meetings.

    • Consider having a trained facilitator offer a guided mindfulness meditation session

    • Consider incorporating opportunities for mindful eating, mindful walking or mindful movement.

Please note that mindfulness meditation and exercises should be offered on a voluntary basis. Attendees should have the opportunity to opt-out to engage in an alternate healthy exercise, if they so choose.

Sustainable Meetings

Events can be both successful and sustainable.  Here are some ideas to help you get started.  Even if you only implement a few, you will make a difference!

At the University of California, Davis, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to utilize reusable products and recycle materials in order to reduce and divert campus waste from landfills.  Help UC Davis become more sustainable by holding a Sustainable meeting.  UC, a national leader in sustainability, has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025, becoming the first major university to accomplish this achievement.  Each UC campus and medical center has also committed to reducing per capita potable water consumption by 20%, 20% sustainable food purchases, and sending zero waste to landfill by 2020.

Publicity and Registration

  • Distribute information about your meeting, including registration forms and all announcements electronically.  Utilize email, listserv, websites, etc. to minimize paper use.
  • Provide online registration.
  • Promote sustainable transportation such as walking, biking or carpooling to your meeting.

Event Materials

  • Email out the agenda or display electronically at the meeting to save paper and ink.
  • When you do use paper, purchase 100% post-consumer, chlorine-free or tree-free paper. 
  • Post presentations to the event website or distribute them electronically vs printing them out.
  • Think about whether or not handouts must be provided; if printed, use double-sided printing.
  • Use re-usable name tag holders and recycled paper.
  • Reusable white boards with water-based, non-toxic markers will save paper over flip charts. 

Food Service

  • Encourage attendees to bring their own reusable cup.
  • Choose reusables for the catering order – linens, napkins, plates, cutlery, service containers, etc. 
  • If disposable is the only option, make sure they are compostable. Styrofoam takes over a million years to decompose!
  • Order food bulk e.g. bulk crock of condiment vs individual packets. Think cream cheese, catsup, creamer, etc.
  • Provide water in pitchers or promote use of water refill stations in the venue.
  • Choose local and organic, fair trade and humane wherever possible.
  • Consider donation options for leftover food.


  • Choose décor for your meeting that can be reused or given away vs thrown away.
  • Consider printing banners without dates for reuse.
  • Promote the zero-waste nature of the event. Let participants know what they can do to participate. 
  • Make sure all vendors know about the zero waste policy at UC Davis. Don’t forget to provide the bins and signage!

Contact Us

Contact any of the following departments on campus with questions about how to make your next event more healthy, sustainable and mindful.

Staff and Faculty Health and Well-Being Program

Nutrition, Food Safety, Physical Activity, Mindfulness, Health and Well-Being


Stacey Brezing, Director of Staff and Faculty Well-being, 530-752-6094


Neesha Patel, PhD, Behavioral Health Consultant, 530-752-6073


Linda Adams, RD, Registered Dietitian, 530-752-6800


Keavagh Clift, Special Services Program Manager



Waste Management, Environmental Stewardship, Carbon Neutral, Zero Waste
Sue Vang, Waste Reduction and Recycling Manager, 530-752-6970


Worklife and Wellness

Worklife and Wellness, Lactation Support
Sandy Batchelor, Worklife Coordinator