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  • Tara Perverseff

Trying to Stay Healthy Eating in Social Situations?

Do you ever feel like it is a struggle to maintain your healthy eating habits when eating in social situations? We have all been there: You are trying to eat healthy and are doing a great job... until you have to go out to dinner with friends or family.

Food is medicine but it is also information, energy and connection. It is such a big part of our social lives and is woven through cultures, traditions and celebrations. So many important social situations revolve around food.

It can be hard to navigate social situations where food is involved when you are trying to eat healthy, whatever eating well looks like for you. When we "fall off the wagon", that can often bring up negative thoughts and negative self-talk. How many of us have beaten ourselves up the next day for what we ate or how much wine we drank? In the end, such thoughts do not serve us or help the situation. Moving forward, how can we make sure we eat in alignment with our goals?

Why is it hard to maintain a balance eating in social situations?

There are many reasons why it can be difficult to stick to your healthy eating habits when you are eating out:

  • The environment is different than what you are used to at home where you have more control over what to eat

  • You do not have control over food options

  • You feel like you deserve a cheat meal

  • You experience peer pressure to just have a bite and "live a little"

  • You open the menu and have that same internal struggle of what to order

Six Tips to Create the Right Balance when Eating in Social Situations

I say create the balance and not find the balance because to me, balance is not something we look for and find. Rather, it is something we create. While eating in social situations can be a challenge, here are 6 tips to help you navigate these situations and come out feeling successful while also experiencing the joy of eating out with friends and family:

  1. Set a clear intention before you eat out: Is the food or the social interaction more important?

  2. Bring healthy options to share: If you are concerned there may be things that you cannot or do not choose to have, offer to bring your own to share.

  3. Practice mindful eating: Check in with yourself: do you really need or want that glass of wine or dessert?

  4. Check the menu before you go and you and decide in advance what you would like to eat.

  5. Communicate your boundaries: If you are following a program, plan or diet, let people know that you are committed to maintaining your goal and not eating that bread, or having that extra glass of wine.

  6. Design your place in the environment: If possible, do you need to stand next to dessert laid out on the table?

Beyond all of these tips, take the time to think about how you will feel when you are successful at eating in the way that is nourishing to you. What does that success look like to you? Can you repeat it next time? Does it inspire others to want to focus on healthy eating, too?

Setting boundaries and eating in a way that feels good to you is a form of self-care and self-compassion. I encourage you to create what that balance looks like for you.

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