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Eating Well in Social Situations

Natalie
Stein
Eating Well in Social Situations
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Losing weight when following your everyday routine is one thing, but what happens in social situations when eating with others? Whether it’s at your home, a party, a restaurant, or anywhere else, here are several strategies you can use to enjoy social situations while keeping weight loss on track.

Build a Healthy Menu

Eating healthy is easier when you’re the host. You can build a menu that includes foods you want to eat as part of your weight loss plan. Think through each course and have at least one item that’s healthy.

Here are some examples of healthy dishes to serve.

Appetizers

  • Vegetable platter with salsa
  • Whole-grain crackers or pita with hummus
  • Skewers with vegetables, cheese, and fruit
  • Turkey meatballs
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Edamame

Main Courses and Sides

  • Grilled chicken breast with pasta tossed with olive oil and tomatoes
  • Broiled salmon with brown rice and asparagus
  • Cauliflower rice with chicken or shrimp
  • Teriyaki chicken or ground turkey lettuce wraps
  • Chicken or bean tacos on whole-grain tortillas
  • Build-your-own salad with items like lettuce, chopped vegetables, a variety of meats and cheese, fruit, nuts, and a few different dressings

Desserts

  • Baked apples with cinnamon and whipped topping
  • Fresh fruit
  • Cheese and nuts

You can still serve less healthy foods if you think that’s what your guests want and expect. Just make sure there’s always a healthy alternative. For example, if you’re serving cocktail franks during a meet-and-greet portion of a party, you can also serve cocktail shrimp or fresh-cut fruit.

Ask What’s on the Menu

If you’re attending an event, you can ask the host what’s on the menu. You can also ask the catering company or restaurant if that’s appropriate. If you aren’t sure there will be something you want to eat, you can call the restaurant or catering company to ask what they can do for you. They’re often happy to make something like chicken or fish with vegetables and without heavy sauces.

Bring a Dish

If the event’s at someone’s home and you’re not sure there will be healthy fare there, you can bring a healthy dish to share. It can be a gift for the host while it gives you something healthy to eat.

Opt for something that can be a complement to any menu. Here are some examples.

  • Colorful salad with vinaigrette on the side
  • Fruit plate or fruit and cheese plate
  • Vegetable platter with 1-2 dips
  • Seaweed salad
  • Edamame
  • Deviled eggs with avocado-based filling

Plan Your Plate

If it’s a buffet or self-service event, you get complete control over what goes on your plate. Look over your options before deciding what to have. As much as possible, fill your plate with salad and other vegetables, lean protein like chicken, and fresh fruit. Then add a small amount of a treat if you see one you really want to eat.

If you’re at a sit-down affair, talk to your server if you can. You might be able to make special requests, such as having extra vegetables instead of potatoes or rice, getting sauces and dressings on the side, and having a bowl of berries instead of a sugar-laden dessert.

Drink Water

Water is a safe choice for health and weight loss. Decaf black coffee and unsweetened hot and iced tea are good options, too. Try to limit or avoid alcohol, soft drinks, and other beverages with calories. You can keep a water bottle in your car and bring it inside with you.

Distract Yourself

The slower you eat, the more satisfaction you may get. At social events, why not socialize? Make it a point to talk and listen as much as possible rather than eating as much as possible.

If it’s a standing affair, stay away from the food table so you’re less likely to serve yourself more. You can also hold a glass of water in your hand instead of a plate with high-calorie foods.

If it’s a sit-down event, consider how much you want to eat. When you’ve eaten that much, push your plate away from you and fold your napkin over your plate to send a signal to yourself, the server, that you’re done with your food.

Eat Something Light Beforehand

It’s good to be only slightly hungry when you get to the event. If you’re too hungry, you may make some choices that you later regret. If you’re not hungry at all, you may be more likely to find sugar, fatty, and salty foods more appetizing than nutritious foods.

Avoid Leftovers

Having a cookie at a party is one thing. Eating the rest of the batch over the next two days has far more of an impact on your weight.

Leftovers can lead to overeating later, especially if they’re tempting or special foods. If you can, avoid having high-calorie leftovers in your home.

If you’re the host, offer to let your guests take home any leftovers. You can encourage them by making available to-go containers so they can pack up their favorites. Another option is to pack containers and hand them to guests as they leave.

If you are not the host, say, “No, thank you,” if the host, the caterer, or the restaurant staff offer you leftovers. If politely refusing feels rude to you, you can accept the leftovers and give them to another guest, bring them to the office, or donate them to a local food program.

You can also throw away food that you don’t want to eat but that is left with you. There is no need to get off track with your weight loss goals for your leftovers.

The Bottom Line for Healthy Eating in Social Settings

Socializing is healthy, and you can take steps to keep it healthy when you’re eating in social settings. When you plan ahead to make sure there’s always something nutritious for you to eat, and you focus on the people and experience, eating with others can be a healthy experience for mind and body.

Start making small changes to your nutrition today to lose weight and feel your best. Remember, your Lark coach is here to help every step of the way!

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