I think I could've titled this a number of other things, like, "How To Put Up With Friends And Family Who Give You Shit About What You're Eating" or, "Dealing With Difficult People Who Don't Support Or Understand Your Goals," - I could keep going but I think you get the point. If you've started 2018 by putting yourself on the road to living a healthier, happier life - first of all - KUDOS!!! I am so proud of you and I am ALWAYS here if you need someone to bitch to, vent to, ask questions, etc. Second of all, know that on your lifelong journey of fitness and health, you will come across people who will give you a hard time about your lifestyle choices for one reason for another. (And you'll find that these people are often struggling with their own health and fitness choices - but that's another story for another day.) OH the tales I could tell you all about the UTTER SHIT people have given me about my (admittedly odd) eating habits!!! But this just isn't the right platform for that. Maybe on Instastories. Stay tuned...
My best friend is coming over for brunch next week, and yesterday I was thinking about brunch food and I remembered she does Whole30 every January, so I texted her, "Are you doing Whole30? If so, please let me know and I will make sure I serve the appropriate food!" She answered right away that yes she is and she was so grateful that I'd thought of it! And now I get to research and try some new recipes for a healthy meal! Everybody wins.
But let's be real - not every event host will be as thoughtful as moi, right? So today I want to talk to you about what to do if you're in a situation when you're around foods that do NOT support your current dietary needs or goals. Because if you're any sort of a social person, it's probably going to happen. Because frankly I'm not very social at all, and it still happens to me.
(As an aside, I'm beginning to think if I had less pet peeves, I'd have more friends. Perhaps there's a connection there, and if I were a less particular person, more people would want to be around me. Oh well. Them's the brakes.)
Here's a BIG pet peeve of mine. When you're at a dinner party and the menu has been passed around or stated out loud and the host looks RIGHT at you and says, "Is there something here for you to eat?"
A. Thanks for loudly putting me on the spot in front of this crowd of people. Awesome.
B. If you were genuinely curious/concerned, wouldn't you have asked me ahead of time? What are you actually going to do if I say, "No?"
Now, I'm FULLY aware that I can be a difficult diner. And clearly I'm known as the picky person in the circles I run in, and honestly, I'm okay with that. It's taken me a long time to get to this point, but MY HEALTH COMES FIRST. I know what I like and I know what works for me and I'm not going to be bullied into other choices just because someone is giving me shit about being a particular eater!
That being said, I'm fully aware that my diet and eating habits are eye-roll-worthy to many, so I try to assuage this by drinking tons of water (so I always have something in my hand) and by ALWAYS having a positive attitude no matter what. The easiest way to answer your host is to sort of wave them away by giving a very quick, "Sure!" or my personal favorite, "Don't worry about me!" (Which is ironic, because clearly they weren't all that worried.)
Here are five preemptive steps to take so that you can happily attend any dinner party or food-centric event without wrecking your diet (or relationships...)
1. Find out the menu ahead of time. If the event is at a restaurant, read the menu online, but be aware that sometimes menus are seasonal or not updated in a timely manner. If the event is at someone's home, this is a bit trickier, but you can always offer to bring a dessert or bottle of wine and ask the host what they'll be serving to ensure that what you bring accompanies it well. If the event is an a different space (catering hall, hotel, etc.) expect the worst, hope for the best and keep reading.
2. Pre-fuel. This is KEY for me. I went to a big dinner party recently and had a sneaking suspicion that I would not care for the food being served. So that day, I had a huge lunch and then a small snack in the early evening. I ended up being served something for dinner that was completely different than the entree choice I'd ordered/what had been described to me. (The same thing happened to someone else at our table, so I didn't feel that badly about it.) I ended up drinking tons of water and just eating a multigrain roll with butter. Not ideal, but not the end of the world either. I felt totally fine and I wasn't starving because I'd eaten so much earlier in the day!
3. Bring sustenance. You should ALWAYS have something snacky in your handbag, whether it be a 100-calorie pack of almonds or a KIND bar or a Larabar. If worse comes to worse, you can always dash to the bathroom and chow down.
4. Fill up on safe foods. Most parties and events will have some sort of hors d'oeuvres or appetizers, and there are often some decent options. Eat as much green salad as you can stand (so long as you don't go HAM on creamy dressings)! Shrimp cocktail is one of my favorite things ever, because not only is it delicious, it's high in protein and relatively low in calories, making it one of the best choices you can make at any event! I also like to fill up on any proteins being served - chicken or beef satay, sushi or sashimi (when I'm not preggo - WOMP) or even a slider (remove half or all of the bun if you're watching your carb intake).
5. Remember that it's ONE night. I'll be honest. Eating shitty food just isn't worth it to me. I'd rather risk insulting the host than eating or drinking something that makes me uncomfortable or bloated. I realize this is not always an option given the circumstances. If you're at a dinner with, let's say, your boss... you may just have to swallow your pride, literally and figuratively. If you're at a huge event where the host won't notice, or if you're with family/loved ones, or around a bunch of people you don't see often/may never see again... I personally think you should be true to YOU, if you feel comfortable doing so! But again - it's just one night and won't make or break you.
That being said - these opportunities are always a good chance to sort of practice drawing your line in the sand and stick to your guns. It took me a LONG time before I was truly confident forgoing the food that isn't right for me in big crowds. I think a lot of us want to do what's considered "polite" - I know because I used to be that way, too. When everyone around you is chowing down on something, it's almost expected that you should be, too. For too many years I would eat just to eat, shoveling in crap because it was the "right thing to do." These days IDGAF. If I want to eat something, I will. And if I don't, I will happily sip my water and ignore the, "What's with the stick up HER ass?" looks I know people are giving me. I don't care. My goals come first, and I hope yours will, too!
Photo taken by DAG Photography.