Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Pressures of Social Eating and How to Overcome Them

I like to eat. I just do. I'm guessing you do too, and if you don' crazy. Have you ever stopped to realize that SO MUCH of what we do revolves around food. I can honestly say I don't remember the last party or get together that I attended where there wasn't a spread of food or treats of some sort, and I think if there wasn't everyone would probably be a little confused. 

Truth: We like to eat.
Truth: We like to eat together. 
 Truth: We like to eat together at home
Truth: We like to eat together away from home. 
It gives us fun reasons to hang out with the people we love.
 It can bring the life to a party
(Yep my fam gets wild come time for our Christmas party)

And if you are can make the fun things you do...just a lil' more fun.
 BUT...While all of these things may be can create a problem for those of us who are trying to be healthy, eat well, lose weight, get in shape, and accomplish goals. Having food around us at every event, in every social situation, and at every possible MOMENT creates some hard situations to master.

So, what is the healthy individual to do when your environment just isn't doing you any favors? I've had SEVERAL people express this concern to me in the past few weeks, and I want to help you to master situations such as this. Here are my suggestions...

1) Eat ahead - If you know you are going to a party with food and you aren't sure what you are going to be served eat before you go and bypass the meal altogether. You WON'T hurt the host's feelings, although if you are worried about it...quietly pull the host aside and tell them it all looks and smells fab, but you are really working toward some health goals that has you eating strictly. You could even tell them you have eaten recently and you aren't hungry. Be polite, but don't be afraid to say no.

2) Know the menu - If possible, find out what exactly will be served. This way you will be able to know if you feel good about eating what is being served or not. If you feel like it isn't going to jive with your healthy eating ways, eat beforehand or make arrangements to help it fit your diet.

3) Contribute - This is the best option. If you want to be able to eat something at the party...bring something healthy that you know you will eat. It's that simple. A great salad, healthy dessert, or even a fruit or veggie tray are a great contribution, and what host doesn't like some help!

4) Make your decisions BEFORE the event - Go in knowing you're either going to eat and be careful, or not eat at all. If you are on the fence you'll be more likely to go crazy.

5) Don't be a cow - You don't have to follow the herd. Just because everyone else is doing it/eating it/gorging themselves on it...doesn't mean you have to. Social pressures are hard, but only if you let them get to you.

6) Be mindful not mindless - Be aware of what the foods you are eating are made up of. Salads are a big culprit here...are they made with a fatty dressing, covered in cheese, and topped with every calorically dense food item known to man? Veggies can be a big one here too. If it looks like it's shining with butter, it probably is.

7) Think with your head and not your stomach - If you go into a social setting starving you are probably going to want to shove food in your face right when you get there. Take time to look at your options, decide how hungry you are, and be smart about the food choices you make. If you don't you might regret it later.

8) Record it - Write. It. Down. Be conscious of all your "bites" and "tastes." Those little itty bitty bites sure do add up quickly.

9) Accept it and move on - Sometimes you just want to be a part of the party, and that is ok too. HOWEVER, if this is your choice, make it, enjoy your food, and move on. Don't dwell on it and beat yourself up over it. Food isn't worth ruining your self esteem. Either eat, enjoy, and move on, or don't. It's up to you.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is be the one in control. Whether you decide to partake of your favorite dessert, or you use that willpower to withstand...own it. YOU choose what you want to do, and don't let the food and your wandering hands make the choice for you. The likeliness that we are going to stop having food at every event we attend is pretty slim, so learn how to adapt.


Mrs. JM said...

#5 is my favorite. lol. great post. it is such a struggle to not feel sorry for myself when everyone else is having XYZ. one thing that helps me, as shallow as it may sound, is to look around at the people eating what i'm feeling bad about not being "able" to have. indulgences are earned, not deserved. if i eat it, i work for it later (or before). that's what i think anyway.

A Fine Balance said...

These are great reminders. THank you for helping remember how not to be a cow and follow the herd!

A Fine Balance said...

These are great reminders. THank you for helping remember how not to be a cow and follow the herd!

Chelsea said...

These are AWESOME tips!

Rene said...

Just another reason I love your blog.

Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

Great tips! It's tough sometimes when I'm in a group--I have the willpower not to eat certain things, but I also don't want to be "that girl" who avoids everything! Great reminders that we eat for OURSELVES, not anyone else!

Rachelle Wardle said...

Great tips! My family gets together A LOT and there is always a fair share of healthy food. It is really just my choice to pick it over the large amount of healthy food. :)

Yogurtland today at 4! Be there!

Brittany@ A Spoonful of Peanut Butter said...

Great tips!! I definetly have to do these before getting together with friends! Love the one about not being a cow ;)

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