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Food for Thought

July 21, 2005, Vol. III Issue 15

Dear Friends,

Well, the reports are in. So many of our speakers were attending and presenting at the National Speakers Association and the National Wellness Conference that I’m not even going to attempt to name them for fear of leaving someone out. I heard that Morgan Spurlock of “Super Size Me” fame was a very good speaker, very professional, and packed the house in Stevens Point, as the program was open to the public.

The week before his presentation, I picked up my Lake Oswego newspaper and there on the front page was an article about his fiancée, Alex Jamieson and her new book, “The Great American DETOX Diet.” The book evolved after the movie came out and she received calls asking her about her “detox” plan for Spurlock (he’s the moviemaker who went on a 30-day diet eating only McDonald’s, gained 25 pounds and sent his body into shock). Alex grew up right here in my neighborhood, on a one acre organic farm! Small world. I’m also checking out the American Heart Association’s new book, “No-Fad Diet.” More in a future issue.

What comes up for me for this issue is food, food, food. Maybe that’s because I’ve been planning food for my wedding weekend. I promised you some meeting planning articles this summer so here we go. I also felt moved to share a compliment in this issue and that led to more than I had planned on. I hope you appreciate Fern Carness as much as I do.

Yours truly,

Beyond Bagels: What’s on Your Plate at Conferences?

What are the three most common complaints on your evaluation forms? Do they have anything to do with the food and the temperature of the room? Could they hear okay? Did you have A/V problems? In this issue, we’ll tackle the food issue.

Zonya Foco, RD, CSP, has a beef. “The food at some of these events I speak at is appalling,” she told me recently. “There I am in the front of the room espousing the benefits of healthy eating like whole wheat products and fruit, and in the back of the room, the attendees have a choice between bagels (white flour) and pastries (straight sugar). We, in the meeting industry, have to be the ones to insist on healthier food from the catering industry, whether it’s snacks, breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

In fact, Zonya is so committed to this, she’s designed a meeting planner’s guide to healthy menus. Just ask and I’ll email you one.

I’ve recently brought this up with a couple of meeting planners, and they told me there were two primary problems. Cost and Cost. Read cost as a barrier to availability or making the extra effort.

Change begins with us.

“Meeting planners are not at the mercy of the hotel. They have to insist on healthy food, or it’s never going to happen,” Zonya said. “I know this sounds like heresy in these tight budget times, but we really must put some muscle into our negotiations with hotels and caterers to get healthier fare on the table at conferences and

Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, shared similar experiences. “I used to present 8-hour CE seminars for health professionals such as pharmacists and nurses,” she told me. “These were typically updates on nutrition research or in-depth reviews of the current research on nutrition and heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

“I learned early on to volunteer my services in designing the lunch and mid-morning snack menus. Otherwise, I’d spend all day emphasizing why fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, fish and soy, and more were essential to the prevention of disease, while the hotel or convention caterer served up meatloaf and gravy, coffee and doughnuts, and fat-laden disasters at mealtime,” she continued.

“The worst was a conference on the prevention of heart disease and the lunch was a cardiac special of steak, french fries, and a wilted salad drenched in dressing. That was a far cry from the grilled salmon with greens I later encouraged them to serve!”

Zonya had a similar experience. “I did a lot of ‘Go Red for Women’ heart association luncheons in the last year, and I always ask, ‘What’s on the menu?’ One meeting planner (who may read this) replied they were having half a slice of cheesecake, and thought that was sufficiently healthy. Even half a slice of cheesecake served by a hotel caterer has 200 grams of fat. What’s wrong with a nice cup of fruit?”

At the Spirit of Women annual meeting I attended recently at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, everyone raved about a luncheon that had not only healthy, flavorful, attractive food, but was served in the most imaginative way I have ever seen at a typical conference luncheon. I hope I can do it justice in describing it because it was not only delicious and beautiful, it was practical,

At our places, were three stacked clear octagonal glass dishes. The top one held a beautiful presentation of cubed apples and walnuts with crumbled blue cheese. The middle layer was a grilled chicken breast (cold) salad with tri-colored tortellini, poached asparagus and shaved parmesan cheese. And the bottom layer held a dessert, a light chocolate and peanut butter cup.

The only thing we passed was rolls, and I think they looked like wholewheat. Being a dessert OR bread woman (according to one of Zonya’s stories, this is a good habit), I didn’t investigate. So, there was no serving going on and the table wasn’t cluttered with dishes. All we had to do was re-stack our dishes as we moved from course to course, and staff was standing by to take each empty layer away. It was wonderful!

Now, if you’re ever having a meeting at the Opryland Hotel and want to order this, it’s called, Signature Cold Stackable Luncheon (Pre-Set in a Three Part Glass Tower).

Do any of you have any experiences like this to share? Please write to me with them and I’d be happy to share them with our readers!

And here’s one more resource I found on the web for you:

Compliments and Cancer Perspectives

Probably the greatest compliment a speaker gets is an email, a phone call, a note or letter, a communication from an audience member telling her she made a difference. Well, that and getting hired in the first place! I love it when they pass them on to me and this one about Fern Carness, RN, MPH, was so heartfelt, I had to share it.

“Dear Fern, I just cannot express how much I enjoyed your presentation. ‘Presentation’ actually is not the correct term. It was more like an EXPERIENCE. It was a total involvement of all my senses. You made me laugh, cry and got my blood flowing with your warm-up movements at the beginning of your speech. Again, speech is not correct either, it was an unforgettable experience. I want to share your thoughts with everyone!

“After breast cancer, with the support of the sistership of breast cancer survivors, I have become liberated. It’s more important for me to ‘live large’ than to be concerned about just existing and not offending anyone. I’m enjoying life. A few years ago, I would NEVER have danced around like I do now. I would NEVER have worn a boa and a tiara. Now, NEVER is a word that I do not use. You have helped me so much. Now, I want to be able to help you.” Takako Kimura, Los Angeles
Pink Dragons

Takako was in the audience at the speaker series of the The French Dressing Jeanswear International Dragon Boats for the Cure Festival in Windsor, Ontario, this month. Paddlers from Canada and the United States participated in the event to raise funds to fight breast cancer. As an avid dragon boater and a breast cancer survivor, Fern was perfect for the job. In fact, in her talk, “Boatload of Angels: A Story of Survival,” she recounts a foggy morning when a dragon boat practice turned into a rescue as her team of breast cancer survivors pulled out of the water a man who had jumped off a bridge.

Now what makes this even more poignant for me, is that a few months ago I received a devastating phone call from Fern, sharing with me that she had been diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer. This after twelve years and putting her heart and soul into speaking about women’s health, particularly heart health (she’s a former cardiac nurse) and breast cancer. We weren’t sure where to go with her speaking career. She wasn’t sure about doing this event, but she just did it.

She just returned from the National Wellness Conference and I got reports that she looks terrific. The treatment is working and she has a whole new message.

“I think I’m the only one on the breast cancer circuit speaking about the paradigm shift towards breast cancer as a chronic disease. I am seeing first hand how many women are living very long lives while they are in treatment for metastatic disease,” she told me. Fern is also co- owner of a store here in Portland, JUST LIKE A WOMAN, where they see cancer patients daily for their specialty lingerie needs.

“It appears that all breast cancer survivors need to acknowledge that we have a chronic condition that responds to medical treatment and lifestyle interventions, much like a diabetic uses exercise, diet and insulin,” she continued.

“Staying in touch with my inner-self: mind, body and spirit is very powerful medicine. Living a life with breast cancer that is consistent with my core values is truly the path I am on.

“In addition, I am trying to change the language of breast cancer from that of the military terminology like war on cancer, silver bullets and big gun chemo,” Fern said. “I prefer not to make war, but to step ightly in the dance of balancing cancer and vitality. I choose medicines that acknowledge my body’s immune system as a partner in the delicate balance.

“There most certainly is quality of life after a breast cancer diagnosis and perhaps, the best is yet to come!” she said enthusiastically. Wow! Rock on, Fern. That’s an attitude to live with.


French Dressing Jeanswear is proud to sponsor the International Dragon Boats for the Cure Festival. Company President Len Miller said, “Dragon boat paddling provides tangible benefits to breast cancer patients and survivors, including emotional support, physical activity, and the opportunity for breast cancer survivor teams to bring home money to their local cancer centres. It is an event that truly celebrates wellness for women.”

French Dressing Jeanswear is deeply committed to women’s wellness and is a long-time supporter of breast cancer causes. For every pair of French Dressing jeans, capris and pants sold, the company contributes 50 cents to a breast cancer research, awareness and support fund. Including its annual fundraising events, French Dressing has donated more than $1.5 CDN million to breast cancer organizations throughout Canada and the United States.

Meeting Planner Appreciation

Having made lots and lots of decisions over the past year for a sacred wedding ceremony and party of a lifetime, I have a fresh appreciation for all that you meeting planners go through for every event you plan. From the guest list to the invitations (marketing), to the favors and flowers (décor), decisions, decisions, decisions. Thank you gifts, goodie bags, food choices, every little thing, (and especially the
little things!) all add up to make it special (and add up in the budget!)

One of the best things I did was to hire a wedding planner. I knew from the get-go, that I did not want to be in charge on my wedding day and without parents and family to do it, hired help was the best choice. Kate turned out to be a dream and joy to work with.

Like everyone from the baker to the caterer, I’ve also come to appreciate our speakers even more for all the care they put into making your event special. You will never get a speaker from our group who just shows up. They are all fully vested in making your event completely successful, in every way that they can contribute.

My preparations have been filled with joy because the suppliers I selected to work with have ALL been lots of fun. And that was a criteria. I hope it is when you choose a speaker!

Until next time, (which will be the day before my wedding!), take care of yourself, for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

The Speak Well Being Group specializes in providing exceptional speakers for health, wellness and women’s events. Because we’ve worked with so many hospitals and healthcare groups around the country, we speak your language. Our hand-picked speakers are attuned to your needs and adept at addressing the issues while delivering information in an entertaining way, or simply providing a good time with a light message when that’s the ticket. When you work with us, you’ll come back for more “How are we going to top that?” speakers.

You’ll find many of our speakers on our website.
Or please call anytime and let us assist you: 503-699-5031

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