Question: When you make plans with friends, how often does it involve food? Whether you’re grabbing a quick lunch with co-workers, hitting up happy hour at the nearby bar, having friends over to watch a movie, or hosting a house party, oftentimes when we make plans, there’s an assumption that food will be involved.
Social butterflies beware: Depending on your friend group and the social setting, the constant array of indulgent munchies will test your healthy eating willpower. But it’s not all bad news. You don’t have to kiss your social life goodbye just because you’re trying to clean up your diet! Here is my advice:
When Heading To A Restaurant
Change Your Friends
Okay … not all of your friends. Just the ones you dine with! If you eat out with people who have an unhealthy mindset, they’ll likely pull you toward them. Remember the last time you ate with that one friend who said, “Come on! Just have a french fry! One won’t kill you!” (And, one won’t kill you by the way, but that’s not the point).
Do Your Research
The next time your friends suggest stepping out to try a new eatery, turn to your good friend Google to check out the restaurant’s menu. Make sure they offer something that will suit your preferences. While most places at least offer a basic house salad (dressing on the side) with grilled chicken or grilled salmon, if a particular place seems too tempting then suggest somewhere else with fresher options. After all, it’s more about the company than the food!
Nibble Before You Dine
Before you head to the restaurant, eat a small, high-protein snack. This way you won’t be tempted to eat anything and everything in sight. Because when tummy grumbles strike, you’re more likely to reach for the bread and indulge in greasy appetizers. So, try a snack of olives, carrots and peanut butter, a handful of almonds, or even a bite of grilled chicken!
Go For The Veg First
If your friends order not-so-healthy starters — like chips and queso, artichoke dip, and onion rings — order a small salad for yourself. You won’t feel left out when everyone else begins digging in. Plus, it’s a great way to fill your tummy with something low-calorie, high-fiber, and nutrient-dense.
Swap The Side
If your main course comes with a side of fries, rice, or mashed potatoes, pay the extra few bucks to upgrade to a helping of sautéed vegetables or seasonal fruit. It’s worth it!
Studies show that it takes your brain about 20 minutes to realize your stomach is full. So, when eating out with friends, be mindful and slow down. Instead, focus on the people around you and engage in conversation.
When Eating At A Friends House
Offer to Bring a Dish
The worst thing is walking into a party and realizing that you can’t eat any of the food. Not only are you stuck with a rumbly tummy, but you also feel awkward standing empty-handed among other guests as they dig into the delicious-looking food. So, if there is a dish you would enjoy then just make it and bring it with you.
Eat Your Main Meal Off of an Appetizer Dish
There’s actually research that shows your plate size contributes to how much food you’ll wind up eating. The larger the plate, the more food we tend to pile on! So, if you struggle with portion control, stick to a smaller dish.
Remember: Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to cut out indulgent food 100% of the time. I’m a huge advocate for the 90/10 way of eating. It’s where you fill your plate with fresh foods 90% of the time and treat yourself the other 10%. So, that way, if you’re going to a birthday party and want to eat a small piece of cake, you can without feeling guilty!
Plan Social Outings Around Something Else … Like Workouts
Not all social events need to involve food. Next time you want to meet up with your friends, suggest going out for a hike or taking a fitness class.