It’s one thing to be at home, in complete control of the healthy food you are consuming. But it’s an entirely different story when we’re out in social situations at the whim of potential critics, skeptics, or dealing with our own guilt and internal conflict about being “that person” when modifying orders off the menu. This blog post will break down five special situations where you may feel pressured to veer off course of your healthy eating habits. We’ll talk about drinking events, eating out at restaurants, social graces, free meals, and being a guest at a party.
For those that drink, breweries and wineries can be a blissful summer activity when the weather is nice and your friends/ family are looking to enjoy the sunshine. However, it can also be a tempting time to decline the invitation knowing the amount of potential calories that can be consumed in an afternoon or entire day’s worth of sipping from wine glasses or beer pints!
The key mindset shift that is important to remember at wineries/breweries is that you do not need to finish every sample you are given.
Try a sip- do you like it? Or is it not your thing?
If not, pass it on. Trust me here… I can guarantee someone else at the table will have no problem finishing your sample for you!
As an alternative to the tasting menu, try buying a bottle of wine for your friends/ family instead. If the vineyard offers picnic seating, bring snacks and water to compliment your bottle. Drink slowly and sparingly. Alternate a non-alcohol beverage (preferably water) with a glass of wine. At breweries, stick to a glass of beer. Avoid flights if possible, so you’re not tempted to drink all of the glasses. Again, you don’t have to finish your glass! We are no longer 21 years old. We do not need to give in to social pressure to drink alcohol. We are grown adults and are capable of leaving a beer on the table with alcohol still in it.
Eating Out at Restaurants
If you have an opportunity to be a part of the decision making process with choosing a restaurant, now is your time. Speak up! Pre-screen some of the menus online so you know which healthy options you’ll be able to order when you arrive at the restaurant. Not a lot of local options? Check out the sides. Sometimes getting creative with combining a few sides can feel just as fulfilling as enjoying a single entree.
Find the balance in modifying entrees on the menu. Stick with broiled, grilled, or steamed options with side choices that are easy to swap for healthier alternatives. Instead of ordering the chicken Caesar salad without parmesan cheese or croutons and Caesar dressing on the side, perhaps order the Garden salad with oil and vinegar? You’ll take away the headache of modifications while staying within the same entree family.
If you don’t have that many healthy options to choose from on the menu, it’s okay to joke with your table before ordering by saying; “okay you guys… bear with me! I’m going to be temporarily high maintenance!” There may or may not be one or two people in your party that will give you a hard time about your order…but hey, listen. Don’t let 30 seconds of discomfort prevent you from accomplishing your health goals! You are stronger than 30 seconds! And I’ll let you in on a little secret…I can bet that when the entrees come, those critics will be JEALOUS of your healthier entrée over their own.
If there’s one person at your table who can’t seem to get off your case about making healthy choices to your order, keep in mind that sometimes these outward criticisms from others are actually internal struggles of their own self-doubt. Perhaps they see you ordering something healthy, and are envious that you are able to handle your healthy eating behaviors in a social setting; something they may personally struggle with. They may think that bringing you down will make them feel better for NOT being healthy. See through the smoke and prevent the comments from sinking in personally.
If you STILL can’t get a person at your table to let it go…offer; “it seems like you’re giving me a hard time about my healthy eating choices. I wonder why that is?” If they continue, end the conversation by saying something along the lines of; “So, how about them’ Red Sox??” [as my grandpa used to say 😉 ]
It sure can be hard to turn down a gracious gift as you are warmly being welcomed into the home of an acquaintance / friend / or family member. Obligations to accept and eat offerings of food can be tricky to navigate. On the one hand, you want to uphold your dedication to healthy eating habits. On the other, you don’t want to offend your host or hostess.
However, let me start by saying that there is nothing offensive about graciously accepting an offering and then postponing your opportunity to indulge in it. Try saying something genuine, such as; “this looks absolutely incredible. I can tell you spent a lot of time making this. I would love to save this for later when I am more hungry and can really take the time to savor and enjoy each bite. Thank you so much!”
Chances are, by the time you come back to your nourishing gift, you’re less likely to have as much direct pressure around eating it. And you know what? If you don’t want it, I’m sure you can find someone else who would truly enjoy such a tasty food offering instead!
Have you struggled with attending conferences that offered free meals, only to notice a table full of processed carbs?
How about being excited for catered lunch at work, only to discover a lunch table full of delivery pizza boxes and bottles of soda?
Take a breath and avoid gut wrenching disappointment. Look around at additional sides that may offer healthier options.
Is there a side salad? Bowl of fresh fruit?
If not, grab some water and guzzle it down. This will quickly fill up your stomach and delay your need to scarf down 3 pieces of pizza before you can say “Dominos Delivery.” Anticipate these moments by having emergency snacks in your bag or purse as Plan B when your food selections are limited. Some of my favorite emergency snacks are nuts, meat sticks, collagen peptides to add to your coffee, Rx Bars and Larabars.
Being a Guest at a Party
Did you go to any summer BBQ parties these past few months? Do you have any fall pumpkin or Halloween parties to get ready for? Do you typically bundle up and enjoy annual winter chili potlucks?
As a guest of a party, the blessing of not knowing what kinds of foods will be available can completely be offset by the fact that you can BRING a dish WITH YOU that you know will be healthy!
A versatile dish that is easy and blends nicely into any themed party, is a nice big bowl of fresh salad. The great thing about salad? It serves as a great base that you can add all sorts of mismatched party toppings onto, such as:
- Burger/veggie patties + the condiments and fixings
- Bean or meat chili
- Fresh fruit and nuts
- Veggies and hummus/ guacamole/salsa
If you’re looking to bring more of a hearty dish, get creative and try finding a new recipe online. Pinterest is a great starting point. Try searching for Paleo recipes to jump straight into minimally processed dishes that are low in inflammatory ingredients. You can also try searching for Whole30 recipes as well to eliminate entrees that call for a lot of sugar or sweeteners.
From the drink standpoint, rather than bringing along a few bottles of wine or beer, consider bringing ½ a supply of alcohol and ½ seltzer. Alternate your alcoholic beverage with a seltzer to stay hydrated and to beat the hangover. Your morning the next day will thank you!
When it comes to attending parties, getting free meals, receiving food offerings, going out to eat at restaurants, and attending events focused on drinking alcohol, don’t let the fear of food and food critics get in the way of you having a good time. Focus on the healthy lifestyle you are choosing to live and don’t let other people’s critique prevent you from eating and drinking out in public. Be social, eat healthy, and make some long-lasting memories!
Planning For An Upcoming Trip?
Check out How To Eat Healthy On Vacation Without Fearing Food. In this blog post, you’ll learn how to effectively meal plan and anticipate difficult contexts of eating that can block your health goals.
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