How to Eat Healthy in Social Situations
Hey fit foodie!
Happy 4th of July!
My husband and I have been looking forward to this weekend for such a long time. Not because we are big fans of Independence Day, we’re not. But because, we are taking some time to get out and get on some rock! I think we are sport climbing today, some nice short and hard routes sound perfect to me right now! I also have grandious plans of baking a cherry pie when we come home. My parents have a cherry tree in their back yard and my mom brought us over a huge bowl of ripe red cherries. So naturally, I sat down and pitted each and every cherry for a couple of hours. If all goes well, I will have a cherry pie recipe coming for you soon.
Holidays like the 4th used to give me so much anxiety. Going to an all day party full of hot dogs, chips, sour cream dips, crappy white buns and people who would want me to eat all the junk just did not sound like fun to me. The feeling of it caused me to want to run miles away. I also felt like it built walls between me and new friends (as well as old friends). I always felt like people were mad at me, or worse, that they didn’t like me because I had different food preferesnces. It took years for me to get to the place where I could get excited about going to a party despite the food.
This is number one to me! Confidence is king. I’m not saying that you should tell everyone at the table that your way is the best way, you have found the answers and that they all should convert. Confidence is different than high and mighty. But it’s important that you know your choices, your why and that you can hold that confidently in you. It is also important that you are up front with people, especially those you will be in relationships with for a while. I like to compare it to romantic relationships – if you start dating eating cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes and you bond with someone over that, even though you want to make better choices, then 10 months into that relationship when you can no longer run home and eat your separate meals, you say, “that’s it, I can’t take it, I eat this way when I am with you and then I eat this other way when I am alone and I’m done eating cheeseburgers with you. In fact, I don’t agree with eating cheeseburgers.” You are doing yourself and them a disservice in many ways. They need to know who you are from the beginning. You need to be open and create relationships that help you to be the person you want to be. You will attract more people that love the things that you do or share similar goals instead of the ones that don’t. Don’t worry about putting other people out, you are not.
Find Your Tribe
Whether that’s only your nutritionist, or an old friend on facebook, or even, your favorite blogger. You are not alone in a journey to improving our food choices. Make an effort to connect with like minded people. Food is a big part of the social experience and it’s important not to loose that. Knowing that you connect with some people, that they support you and your choices can make everything easier.
Communicate Your Values in a Calm, Cool, and Collected Way
Don’t try to express everything all at once. Keep that confidence in you. You know your reasons. They don’t need to yet, but they probably will over time. Food and culture are intertwined. It took me a while to realize that this was at the core of the dissonance in my family. I had stepped out of what they accepted as normal food (velveta cheese, store bought crackers and factory farmed meats), and I had stepped into a different set of values around food (slow food, real food, vegetables from a garden, and ecologically sustainable food choices) Add on to that a distaste for chemicals, and my entire diet was turned around. When you change your ideas around food, you also change your culture. It’s inevitable. And it’s a good thing!
Be an Example
When you improve your food choices and ultimately, your health, you are doing great things for your body. Other people will see that, and, they will appreciate it. You might even do someone the favor of opening their mind, changing their own habits, or even saving their life down the road. You may be the first person in your family to change your eating habits, but you most likely will not be the last. There’s a good chance that others will join you if you lead a positive example.
Don’t let your own crap create distance between you and everyone else. If you feel like they are judging you, they will get weird vibes. Meet yourself with love, you are not weird. Also, meet them with love, they have a different culture around food and you can respect that. They will respect you too. Keep your tone of voice, calm and collected and keep the focus around the relationships. I like to say things like, “I am not here for the food, but for the pleasure of hanging out with all of you.”
I said earlier in this post that you are not putting anyone out by eating differently. I repeat, you are not putting anyone out. However, those people that love you don’t want you to have to eat lettuce and strawberries for Christmas dinner because there is nothing else that you can eat. Don’t expect anyone to cook for you, and don’t go hungry because that makes them feel like they did not serve you. Bring your own main meal, and have a couple of back up snacks with you so that you can enjoy the festivities. For bbqs, I like to bring a container of my kind of burger or grill-able (I do bring enough to share, but you don’t have to). I also bring a side like fruit salad, and an emergency trail mix or protein bar.
Talk to the Host Ahead of Time
This goes hand-in-hand with being prepared. You can say something like, “I have had to change my diet for health reasons (or I have recently made the commitment to being vegan) and I just wanted to let you know. I will make sure I’m taken care of and bring a main for myself but I also want to bring something to contribute, what holes in dinner do you need to fill?”
Blame it On Me
You can always say that I am seeing a nutritionist and I am following her recommendations, I’ve actually been following them for a couple of weeks and I feel great! Or, my doctor ordered me to change my diet and he would like me to eat this way. Or, I’ve been working with a nutritionist and eating this way has really helped my stomach pain go away.