How to Handle Social Eating in a Way That Works for you!

"Come on, just ONE piece of cake!"

"Have a drink - it's Friday night, and we're all drinking..."

"Seriously, that gluten stuff is BS - how could a piece of toast hurt you?"

We’ve all heard this kind of often well-intentioned cajoling around food, alcohol and jumping off bridges. This kind of social pressure can be Really Hard, particularly if you’re just starting on your journey to healthier eating. Those of us working to eat healthfully (whatever that may mean to you today) face this all the time. Those of us trying not to jump off bridges best check our parachute lines before climbing to the top of bridges with daredevils!

And so the old adage, What Other People Think of You is None of Your Business comes to bear. It’s a hard one to internalize, and the key is getting clarity about your own goals around your health and the steps you are taking Today to get yourself there. If people judge, they judge. There is nothing you can do to stop that, you can only work to take care of yourself the best way you know how. If eating pizza, drinking a beer, nomming cookies or pies, or smoking a cigarette or twelve is not in line with your best health, then it’s vital to find the language to explain that to the people at your office, in your social circle, or to family who may be pressuring you to make other decisions.

Take a few minutes (you can do it right now) to sit and write about your health goals, large or small, and how you want to talk about them. The script will likely be different in different situations. And remember that a polite “No, thank you”, said with a smile, is often enough. Be prepared for questions about your choices, and know what you do and do not want to explain. You owe no one an explanation, but might feel the need to proffer one. Practice these words, in the mirror or with a trusted friend or health coach, so that they roll off your tongue. That will help alleviate any icky feelings when a gooey, frosting covered cupcake gets thrust in your face.

Be Nice To You.

So you had a bite of birthday cake. Okay. Great. What is done is done. You may still be at the point on your path where you WANT THE CAKE. And that’s okay. Eventually your taste buds will change (I promise) and the things that once called you like a siren beckoning you to crash upon rocky shores will no longer hold sway. But that’s gonna take a minute. In the meanwhile, please, be nice to you. Guilt is a nonstarter. It gets you nowhere but back in to the cycle of feeling lousy about yourself.

If you’re gonna do it, DO IT.

If you’re going to have the cake, sit your butt down. Pour a cup of tea. Take a deep breath. Center yourself. Ask yourself if you Reallllly want it and if you’re ready for the inevitable sugar crash. If the answer is still “YES!” then commit to that. Own it. And tell yourself that you are Not Going To Feel Guilty about the choice you’re making. And savor each bite. Maybe one bite is enough, and you can toss the rest before you go over the edge into full sugar high/sugar crash. Maybe you have the whole piece. But at least you savored it. You licked the spoon. Maybe you licked the plate. Maybe you licked your neighbor’s plate. But the point of it all is that you brought some mindfulness to the situation. And that, my friend, is a damn good start.

How to Make Space to Stick to Your Plan: How to Not Feel Deprived

I find that hunger and low blood sugar fuel some of my worst decisions. If you know you’re going to a birthday party, work function or happy hour, eat before you get to there. Good choices include homemade bone broth, steamed veggies with coconut oil, or a big salad with fat and protein (think chicken or beans and blue cheese, walnuts, yummmm). Chose something fulfilling, emotionally satisfying and nutritious so that when you walk into Sugary-Gluteny-Boozey-Crazyland, you’re not meeting it with CrazyHunger. Maybe pick up a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free paleo-style yummy treat, or make some paleo cookies or a savory side dish to share. Have something ready at that holiday or office party to eat so you’re not the only one with an empty plate while everyone else is destroying the buffet line. Remember to order the vegetarian option if you know the only meat that will be served will be hormone-laden, factory-farmed scariness.

Being prepared is the best way to beat this kind of social pressure. Pre-game it. It's always worth it. It’s a tough world out there. Remember to be kind to yourself, and take the time to focus yourself on Your Own Goals for Your One and Only LIfe.

Remember that not eating the cake is not depriving yourself of a treat, it’s saving yourself from a sugar and gluten meltdown. And that is a gift that only you can give yourself.