On your journey to healthy eating, you WILL encounter many situations where you don’t have total control over what you eat. This happens a lot at parties, holidays, and when hanging out with friends and family. It’s SO tempting in these situations just to scrap your healthy eating plan. Here are a few reasons I get anxious about eating in social gatherings:
1. I would feel awkward not eating at all, so I feel like I have to eat at least something.
2. I may offend someone if I don’t eat what they made. I love cooking and baking and love when people enjoy my cooking and baking. I have a lot of friends who feel the same way and don’t want to offend them. Ultimately, if it were someone who I am close with, they’d understand, but I still want to be sensitive of what they are offering. For some people, offering food is like offering their friendship. I’ve recently had two different people that I’m not close with make/bake me things, and I graciously accepted. I didn’t eat the whole thing myself, but definitely tried what they made me and enjoyed it and appreciated their kindness.
3. I don’t want the focus to be on what I am/am not eating. When I get together with friends, it’s about building community, not discussing my eating. I don’t want to be that person who talks about how unhealthy/how many calories are in all the food that we are eating so that other people can’t enjoy their food. If people WANT to talk about it later, cool, I just don’t want that to be the focus every time that I eat with people.
4. Sometimes, I just want to be like everyone else and eat whatever we want, enjoy it, and not think about the calories.
5. It’s a tradition! We ALWAYS eat (insert yummy food) on New Year’s Eve! (etc. etc. etc.) If I’m not careful, I’ll always be celebrating something!
Maybe you can identify with some of the reasons above or have some of your own reasons why eating with other people can be challenging while on your journey to health. Have no fear, eating with others doesn’t have to put a wrench in your healthy plans. There are some great things that you can do to stay on track!
1. Plan ahead, if you are going to a restaurant, MOST places have healthy options. Choosing ahead of time what you will get will help you make that good decision when you actually get to the restaurant. Restaurant portions are also often really large, so you can also ask for a to-go box at the very beginning and split your meal to begin with so you aren’t tempted to eat it.
2. If you are close with people, let them know about your healthy eating plan. You’d be surprised how many friends and family will accommodate what they are making or what restaurant they choose to support you.
3. If you are in a place where you just don’t have healthy options or feel like you would offend someone, eat and enjoy. Just be mindful and eat smaller portions than you maybe normally would. Don’t let yourself feel guilty about this, enjoy your time with the people you are with.
4. If it’s a potluck type meal, bring a healthy option. That way, no matter what, you have something healthy to eat. At the potluck, choose your own dish and do your best to stick to the healthier options as much as possible OR if all else fails, eat smaller portions of things than you normally would.
5. Create new healthy traditions. There are lots of healthier options for most food. I have come to LOVE cauliflower pizza crust. Yes, I know it sounds gross and while it doesn’t taste as delicious as regular crust, it’s a great substitute. Here’s a recipe for it: http://ifoodreal.com/cauliflower-pizza-crust-recipe/. Thin-crust pizza is also a healthier option. I also REALLY like mock mashed potatoes, made again by the wonder vegetable cauliflower! Here’s a recipe for that: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mock-garlic-mashed-potatoes-recipe.html. I also add a triangle of Laughing Cow Cheese for extra flavor. My cousins make some yummy kale chips. Yes they actually are yummy-a bit of an acquired taste, but worth acquiring. I’m going to try a few new recipes in the next week including Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole (healthyrecipesblogs.com/2014/02/26/spaghetti-squash-casserole/) and Radish Chips (http://www.medifastblog.com/2014/10/26/fall-fit-festive-radish-chips/). Yes I know these sound crazy, but hey, you never know, they may be delicious!
In my opinion though, for the most part, baked goods should stay as is. They aren’t SUPPOSED to be healthy and using butter, whole milk, etc. make them as they are supposed to taste. I’d much rather eat LESS of a dessert that isn’t healthy than MORE of a dessert that has healthy substitutions and drastically changes the taste. There are a few exceptions that I’ve run into (like using Greek Yogurt or Applesauce in place of other ingredients) that do make a healthier dessert and still taste good. I do actually want to try using avocado to substitute for certain ingredients because I have heard that it doesn’t impact the flavor noticeably.
6. Eat before you go. I’m not saying eat a full meal before you go, but eating a little something on your healthy meal plan will keep you from being really hungry and making poor decisions later. When I’m really hungry, I make the worst decisions.
And that’s it! All simple things but powerful because when you make a lot of good little decisions, they build on each other, and will help you create good, healthy habits as well as get closer to your goal!