Why Is It So Hard To Eat Healthy In Social Settings?

Ever since the Pilgrims and Pocahontas (and Grandmother Willow), social settings have gathered around friends, fun and food. Food has been the focal point of socializing from celebrations to bad break ups(no one wants to drown his or her heartbreak with tofu). People don't crave toasted chick peas at the movie theater or carrot sticks at McDonald's, it's a norm that society gravitates towards unhealthy eating due to convenience, affordability and impulsive emotional cravings. When's the last time a friend said: hey, lets celebrate with some beers and celery sticks?

This cultural habit can make social settings difficult for those trying to eat healthier. I've sometimes felt "uncool" or judged if I opted for a salad over chicken fingers when eating out with friends; however, it's hard not to be swayed into peer pressure. Even a no thank you can quietly excommunicate a person from the snack pack. Why is it so hard to stick to a healthy lifestyle when temptations are always lurking behind every pizza box and value menu? Occasional cheating is expected and an essential to keep our cravings in check, but why do social settings always seem to deteriorate our willpower?

The LiveStrong site addresses this bamboozle perfectly:

When you eat with friends and family members, you're liable to be goaded into eating foods you normally wouldn't. It's human nature to observe what others are doing and follow suit. If everyone at your table is ordering indulgent meals, it can be embarrassing to ask for a salad or grilled vegetables. If you do try to order something healthy, you could be laughed at by your friends. To avoid that ridicule, you might order something high in fat and calories or go for a dessert you wouldn't when eating on your own.

Have you ever heard the saying, sharing the guilt? I think this phrase perfectly sums up why healthy eating can sometimes be shunned in social settings. It starts with one person craving the Triple-Chocolate-Mousse Cake and not wanting to be lonely in his or her indulgence. As a result, the peer pressure gets piled on as thick as the triple chocolate mousse. How can you survive these situations without feeling uncomfortable? Here are some tips:

Be honest: Honesty is the best policy especially for staying on track with healthy eating. Be upfront about your eating habits and own your decision, your crew should be supportive (If not, do what my grandpa always said: Screw 'em!)

Share an entree or dessert: If there isn't any healthy alternatives when eating out, split a dessert or entree. If no one wants to split, ask the waitress to put half in a to-go box and take it home for later!

Bring your own healthy side: At a potluck or picnic? No problem. Bring a dish that fits your dietary criteria so you'll have something to nosh on as you socialize.

Eat prior: If you know beforehand that your palate isn't feeling the party's food platter, eat something prior to the event. If someone asks why you're not eating, simply and honestly say I'm not hungry but thank you!

Remember, never feel guiltily about passing on dessert or even indulging once in a while. Just be healthy and all will be fine in body, mind and soul!


Jentry Nielsen said...

Love this post!!! It is so true, I don't know why we must eat to celebrate things!
I hate when you try to eat healthy when you go out to eat with friends and they all have to say something about your salad over their hamburger and fries...just leave my eating habits alone! ha

Anderson said...

Exactly! Whose stomach is it going in anyways? I am a huge foodie but it was interested to think about how much we do use food as a reward! We're not dogs for pete's sake!

Dominica said...

I really enjoyed the tips you shared, Anderson! I think I'm going to start putting them to work myself.


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