Save for dietitians, there is no other group that should know and care more about the food they consume than physicians. Yet there seems to be a disconnect between what medical meeting planners say is important in meeting planning and what foods are served at medical meetings. John La Puma, MD ( of the Santa Barbara Institute for Medical Nutrition and Healthy Weight, first pointed out this discrepancy in a study in 2000. Among his recommendations for medical meeting meals: “Substitute fish for red meat as an entree; offer olive oil on the table instead of butter; eliminate sugared soda and energy drinks; and eliminate deep-fried foods, especially those fried in hydrogenated oils, containing trans fats.”

We asked La Puma if he has seen any changes since he completed his study. He responded, “None whatsoever. Doctors are still being served cream, butter, and sugar-based desserts.” He lamented, “I would love to attend a medical meeting for physicians in which vegetarian meals were served as a standard offering.”

For breaks, La Puma suggests the following:

  1. Bottled sparkling and still water, with lemon and lime wedges;

  2. Hot coffee and a selection of teas, with nonfat milk, half and half, and soy milk available. Also, consider hot yerba mate (a natural stimulant beverage with no side effects) and hot chai;

  3. A bowl of seasonal, ripe fruit, preferably regionally grown;

  4. Bowls of shelled, toasted, unsalted almonds and walnuts; and

  5. Fresh corn tortillas and whole grain crackers, made without trans or saturated fats, and fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and spring onions served with a tomato-based salsa and guacamole.

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