How To NOT Starve At A Convention

While this may encompass more than just SDCC, it is still good knowledge for any who like to attend conventions and do not want to waste time and/or money on eating out… Not to mention how horrible that is for your body.  You want energy to go go go, right?  Eating a huge burger and fries at lunch is just going to weigh you down.

I’m no nutritionist but I have been working on my own diet and nutrition for years.  There are a lot of things that I assume are basic nutritional information, but I will just include anything and everything here.  I am also on the cusp of hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism (yeah, I was told that BEFORE Oprah, so thanks), so this is why it is exceptionally important for myself to really monitor what I am eating, how often I am eating, and when I am eating.

My fiancé and I live in Las Vegas and my fellow damsel plus her friend will be flying in from Texas, so Wednesday morning we are doing the 6-hour (or so) drive to San Diego.  We have already been planning snacks and foodthings for the convention because, well, we’re overprepared SOBs.  /shrug  I am going to treat this sort of like my hiking planning with my food, so please let me know if there is anything I should amend.

One thing that I encourage if you are traveling by car is go to a grocery store in your area with a list before you make the venture to San Diego!  This will save you time, money, and hassle.

Non-perishables are the best as you want snacks on-the-go.  Suggestions would be:

  • Protein bars (check the sugar; try to stay under 15-20 grams) to stay full and energized but try to avoid ones that may have chocolate – they can melt and make a mess when you open them.  Clif bars are good if you plan on skipping meals due to their high calories (~350 depending).
  • Pistachios, almonds, cashews, peanuts, trail mix (without chocolate chips), etc. for munchies!  A lot of stores sell them in handy plastic containers or you can throw them into plastic baggies.

          What’s that – these are high in fat?  Re-read the label – most of them will probably have polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, the ones known for burning fat.  Considering you’ll be walking around the convention, protein and good fats like these will be a godsend.  Hell, you might even lose some weight.  Not so bad now, is it?

  • Dried fruit.  While it may be tempting to bring a fresh apple or banana (and would be healthy, too), sadly if you are toting these around in a backpack they run the risk of getting squished.  Dried mango slices, peach slices, apple chips, banana chips, and other such items are good in that instance.
  • Can’t stand anything I mentioned?  Try cruising down the snack aisles and look for the 100-calorie packs of your favorite bad-for-you munchies, like Oreos, Ritz crackers, Chips Ahoy, etc. for foods that aren’t so good for you but already come pre-packaged and pre-portioned.  Try to avoid foods high in sugar so you do not crash.

And, of course, bring WATER!  Slightly cold water would be a good idea — if you bring water that is frozen or extremely cold, account for the perspiration it WILL leave in your backpack, hand, counter, or anywhere else it touches.  You can prevent this by putting it in a different pocket (many backpacks now have a side compartment specifically for this) or just keeping it at room temperature.  Not desirable, but whatever keeps you drinking water is the most important thing.  I have seen way too many people at conventions pass out from heat stroke or dehydration, something easily avoidable with a little common sense thinking.  NO SODA!

Roy knows a thing or two about fish.

Once you get back to the hotel room from a long day of walking, shopping, panel’ing, and other hijinks, you will probably be starving.  So, what can you do to avoid this?  Well, either have more snacks and goodies stashed in your hotel room like apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis, cereal, etc. or check out Yelp.com for some local ideas (with reviews) on what to eat.

For example, one night I believe we are going to Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion – I visited the one in Texas when I lived there and loved it – for a nice night out, and it is actually located inside the hotel we are staying at.  (Side note: check dress codes for any upscale places; this one, luckily, only has a dress code of dress jeans.)  Make reservations if possible.  It will save you time and disappointment.

So if you’re not really impressed with my list and just want a Things To Avoid section instead, here you go:

  • Refined sugar.  This is a good way to have a quick up, but also just as quick of a down.  Fruits do have sugar, yes, but this is natural sugars that your body understands and processes differently.
  • Excessive sodium.  This one is so hard to avoid, but when possible do so.  Sodium is in almost everything now, so just watch what you eat when you go out.  Too much of it causes ‘bloating’ due to its absorption of water, so you will feel groggy and ‘jiggly’, never pleasant.
  • Soda.  This contains both refined sugar and excessive sodium as well as dehydrates you.  Just avoid it, please?  ^_^;
  • Fast food.  While you may not be able to always avoid that Dollar Menu, try to eat in moderation.  Did you know 1 Big Mac, 1 large fry, and 1 large Coke is 1350 calories?  This is over 50% of what the average person should eat (2000) calories — why would you eat this in one sitting?  “I walk around all day, I can burn that.”  Okay, bud — did you know it would take about 9 hours and 30 minutes to walk off that many calories (2.0mi/hr)?  Because I know you’re not power walking at the convention.  Simply don’t do it – order a chicken sandwich or salad instead.  Again, NO SODA!

Now that I have probably left a sour taste in your mouth, let me remind you that food is not everything at a convention!  Just pick the right snacks, stay hydrated, and try a sandwich instead of a burger and you should be just fine.  You’re probably going to end up ‘cheating,’ but if you honestly spend 30 seconds on a food decision, you have enough time to think of an alternative to what you want that will be much healthier.  Oh, and did I mention no soda?

bad bad bad bad

Protip: If you’re in costume, make sure you either eat nutritiously before going to the floor or have a buddy that is OK with carrying a couple snacks and water.  Or, if you’re not anal (like I am), carry a small backpack or fanny pack while in costume and just take it off for photos, etc.

Damsel Chan

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