If you have ever been on a diet you know what a nightmare social gatherings can be. How can you be at a birthday party without eating cake? How can you celebrate a wedding without drinking alcohol? How can you go out with your co-workers without eating something fried? Is it even possible to stick to a meal plan in those situations?
Yes, of course it’s possible! (But it would be a lie if I said it was easy.) If you are on a run-of-the-mill diet just ’cause, let’s face it, you can always cheat a little without much ramification beyond tighter pants the next day. Sometimes you just have to live a little. But if the stakes are higher, if you are diabetic, or are in show prep for a competition, or have food allergies, then cheating on a diet really isn’t an option. These are some tips I’ve found helpful and hope you do too:
Strategies for Sticking to Your Meal Plan in Social Situations:
- Get your mind right. Don’t be all “poor me” whiny. Remind yourself that this is a choice. You can choose to eat healthy or you can choose to eat junk and there are consequences to your selection. Ultimately, the decision is yours, not your doctor’s or your spouse’s or your well-meaning friend’s. You decide what you put into your body. Write this on a post-it note and keep it (or a similar mantra) in your pocket as a reminder.
- Eat before you go. It’s really hard to avoid the snacks placed before you if you haven’t eaten in six hours. Eat a healthy snack before you go to Chuck E Cheese and the cold birthday pizza won’t seem nearly as appetizing.
- Custom order. There’s a scene (several, actually) in When Harry Met Sally where Harry orders the special and Sally’s order takes ten minutes and sounds something like, “I’ll have the turkey sandwich, but I want the bread toasted, but if you can’t toast it, then I want the bread on the side and I only want the dressing if….” you get the point. I used to be embarrassed to do this. Wasn’t I annoying the waitress? But my friends from my bodybuilding team do this all the time and, just like anything, if you ask politely the servers don’t seem to mind. Here is an example of what I ordered once eating out with my husband. “Hi, sorry in advance for sounding weird. I’d like grilled chicken; it can’t be cooked in anything – not butter or olive oil even – just dry grilled – and 1/2 of a baked potato with no seasonings and a side of raw spinach salad, but without tomatoes and I’d like a lot of mustard on the side please…I’m a bodybuilder.” The food was cooked perfectly, and rather than being annoyed the waiter spoke to me for 20 minutes about which protein shake I recommended.
- Say yes/do no. Sometimes you are in a situation where custom or peer pressure dictates you eat something you’d rather not. Like if you are at a bar with your friends and they keep bugging you to drink a cocktail with them. Or your boss “offers” you a chocolate cupcake his wife made for the office. In those situations I say, “yes” but do “no”, meaning, I will order a drink I don’t like and hold it all night, or I will thank my boss for the cupcake and then throw it in the trash once he leaves my office.
- Chew sugar-free gum. They even make dessert flavored gum so you can get the satisfaction without the calories.
6. Pack your own food. Tupperware is a fabulous invention. When I’m in the middle of show prep and have something to attend like a wedding or church picnic, I will bring a container of chicken, brown rice and green beans along with a fork in my purse. If the place is really fancy I’ll eat my meal in the ladies lounge, otherwise I just bust it out and do my thing.
7. Distract yourself. It’s a social gathering – so be social! Take your mind off food by starting a great conversation with an old friend or someone you’ve never met.How about you? Do you have any tips for sticking to your diet?
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