Last week a client told me they were not looking forward to a family members wedding they were attending on the weekend. I was shocked! Not looking forward to it? I thought, ‘ah, she must not like the person they are marrying’. Nope. She was worried about the food that would be available, and that she would gain weight because there might not be anything there that she was ‘allowed’ to eat. Another client was telling me how she was devastated she was going to have to miss her friend’s birthday, because there would be too many cocktails available, and she was sure to over indulge. Others have mentioned to me unhappily, 'I suppose I can't have any chocolate at Easter ?'
It is ok to not be perfect all the time. It is ok to enjoy yourself when out with friends and family, or at a social event. It is just about making smart choices.
Firstly, remind yourself that you are ‘allowed’ to have anything. As soon as you put something on the ‘not allowed’ list, how much more do you want it?
Secondly, select carefully. Try to avoid grabbing the first thing that comes along. Wait and see what your options are, then decide what you want based on all the available options. For example, start the evening with a glass of sparkling water with lime to quench your thirst, then choose which cocktail to have.
Thirdly, if you know there will not be any healthy food options available, but still want to eat, have something small and healthy before you arrive, so that you are not starving, but not full so you can still indulge in a treat.
Finally, eat slowly, use the process of mindful eating. Imagine the wedding cake has come out, and it looks delicious! How much more will you enjoy it if you eat it mindfully by taking small, careful bites, and really pay attention to the flavours and textures? Or choosing your favourite chocolate to indulge in at Easter, buying a small portion and taking your time with eating it, savouring every bite.
A social life can be a healthy life! Don’t miss out on the important events in your life under the misguided notion that you cannot have a social life and a healthy life.
I would love to hear any stories you have, or strategies you use to help you out in a social situation!
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues.