10 tips on how to eat healthy in any social situation
Summer is finally here! (Can I get a whoop-whoop?!) With it comes fun, sun and social events, which means vacations, BBQs, brunches, parties, picnics and more. (Aaaah, I love summer ?)
Social events can present many dietary temptations and pitfalls. Overindulging each weekend with friends can really wreak havoc on your healthy living goals or even derail our efforts altogether.
Avoid the summer slide and stay on track with these 10 tips for eating healthy at any social event.
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1. Mentally plan ahead
Before a social event, make a mental pact with yourself to stick with healthy eating habits. Rather than being blindsided, resolve to make healthy choices no matter what.
One strategy is to decide ahead of time what you will or will not indulge in. For example, maybe you’ll keep your main meal clean but have one alcoholic drink or a small dessert as a treat.
2. Fill up on fresh, whole foods
No matter the event, whether it’s catered, a potluck, or a simple meal with friends, most social engagements that include food are going to offer fruits and vegetables. Often times it’s something as simple as a veggie tray, salad or cut up fruit. Look for these foods and make sure your plate is filled by at least one-half with fresh plant foods. The other half of your plate can include whole food sources of protein such as grilled chicken, boiled eggs, deli meat, quinoa or bean salad.
Another reason this helps is because you’re giving your body the nutrition it needs. When we eat calorie heavy but nutrient void foods, our bodies will continue to crave more to eat. What we’re really craving though is real nutrition!
3. Eat before you go
I made the mistake of not doing this many times in the past. Back when calories were king in my diet, I didn’t want to use up my precious few available earlier in the day and then be restricted at a social event. Unfortunately, this just led to me being hella hungry and having zero self-control when I got there ?♀️ Not the best way to make sure you eat healthy!
A much better strategy is to eat a small, healthy protein or fat-rich snack before you go, especially if you know there will be few healthy food options available. You’ll be less hungry (hangry!) and therefore less likely to overeat.
Good choices include a handful of almonds, slice of turkey or chicken, avocado or boiled egg.
4. Stay hydrated
Dehydration can lead to overeating. We may think we’re hungry when really our bodies just need some water. Bring a water bottle with you at all times to sip on it throughout the day.
The other upside to staying hydrated is that it keeps our stomachs full. A feeling of fullness is another deterrent to overeating. Try drinking at least 8oz of water 30 minutes before your meal to curb cravings.
5. Avoid sauces, sugars, processed and fried foods
When presented with a buffet style selection of foods, stick to the whole foods mentioned in tip #1 and avoid foods slathered in dressing, sauces, high in sugar, overly processed or fried. This includes BBQ style meats or meats slathered in sauces, white bread, sugary desserts and drinks, some pasta dishes, chips, and fried anything.
All of these foods are not only going to be higher in calories but more importantly, they’re often filled with additives, chemicals, rancid oils and transfats. Definitely not what you want to be consuming when you’re trying to eat healthy!
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6. Enjoy what you like in smaller portions
Look, I get it, a big part of the fun of social events is indulging in tasty food while enjoying good company (and who wants to be the stick in the mud who doesn’t relax and go with the flow, right?)
At this point in my own healthy eating evolution, I no longer care about my dietary habits “fitting in” with social norms. It’s far more important to me to care for my body than please other people’s sense of “fun.”
However, if you’re just not there yet or feel comfortable allowing yourself to indulge every now and then (that’s ok too!), then by all means, eat what you want. If you keep portions small (and don’t go back for seconds!) then you can enjoy less than healthy foods with less overall damage.
7. Don’t drink your calories
Liquid calories can really add up fast. Be aware of what you’re drinking (sweet tea? punch? lemonade? alcohol?) and keep it balanced. When in doubt, water or unsweetened herbal tea is your best bet!
8. Bring your own food
If the social event is a potluck, bring a dish that fits your diet. Or if you’re asked to bring something specific, create or buy a healthy version of that food. This way you know you’ll at least have one healthy option available. However, if you know there won’t be any decent healthy food choices available (like a movie theater), stash a healthy snack in your purse!
9. Walk away
When tempted to eat unhealthy foods at social events, removing myself from the food area helps. If I can’t see the food I’m less likely to want it or mindlessly snack as I talk to friends.
So get out of the kitchen if you can and don’t sit with food right in front of you!
10. Remind yourself of your why
As with mentally prepping yourself, reminding yourself of why you’re choosing to change your eating habits or maintain a healthy diet is a mindful way of keeping yourself on track.
What are the positive consequences of eating healthy? What is your ultimate goal here?
Eventually, you get to a point where no amount or type of indulgent food is worth the detrimental side effects (weight gain, brain fog, digestive issues . . . the list goes on!).
Kate Moss famously said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I would tweak that a bit to say, “Nothing tastes as good as a healthy, vibrant body feels.” Whatever the shape of your healthy body, I promise you, no food can compare to bright, energetic, vibrant health!
Maintaining a healthy weight during the summer months or over holidays requires moderation and balance. But a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be void of culinary fun or full of deprivation!
If you need a library of healthy recipes and meal plans, check out Food Matters TV. This site has made sticking to a healthy diet so much easier for me. One look at their colorful, appetizing recipes and you’ll WANT to eat healthy!
Also, be sure to download my free ebook with 60 whole food recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and snacks!
What about you? Do you struggle with sticking to healthy eating habits over the summer? What helps you stay on track?
Hi! I’m Liane, a self-proclaimed ‘scrunchy mom’ (as in semi-crunchy). I have a passion for all things natural, healthy and holistic. My aim is to inspire you on your healthy living journey by sharing simple, everyday habits that can transform your well-being and life.