Eating healthy but have a full social schedule? It’s totally possible!

Sun’s out, and we’re starting to see more summer BBQ’s and other food/drink centered social events on our calendars as we reconnect (safely) with our friends and family. Here’s how to approach them if you’re also trying to eat healthy!

1. Don’t skip meals, starve, or under-eat the day of

Despite popular dieting advice, this one usually backfires for a couple reasons. The first is that it sets us up to overeat later. You’ll both be physically hungry (lowering impulse control around salty snacks like chips and dip, offers of a second hot dog, or appetizer tables) and have set up the restrict-binge-restrict pattern in your brain so will 100% out-eat any calorie savings from mid day, plus some.

Do have a really balanced, nourishing meal that lines up with your usual healthy eating basics during the day that is heavy on the protein and veggies. It’s okay if this meal is a touch lighter than normal (maybe you lettuce wrap your tuna salad instead of popping it on toast) but it should be filling, enjoyable, and nutritious. This lowers hunger hormones so you can make a healthy choice that works for you later on. If this is your only treat of the week, enjoy what you like, just stop when you’re satisfied instead of eating until stuffed. If you have a ton of social stuff or treats already in the books, you might want to try and have a more balanced plate, choose between appetizer/snacks and dessert, and pay special attention to your fullness cues.

2. Move your body, but not for the calorie burn

Just as the restrict-binge-restrict cycle sets your brain up on an unhealthy roller coaster of up and down eating, trying to “work off” the calories beforehand can put you in a similar rut. Resist the urge to burn it off, and know that you deserve food like any other human.

All that said, I do find being active on days I have a big social event or lots of treats coming really puts my mindset in the right place. For myself and many of my clients, making positive and healthy  choices about movement feeds healthy eating choices and visa versa. So get out for a walk in the sun, squeeze in a workout, or roll out your mat for some stretches just to help connect with your body and get your head focused on what your bigger health goals are.

3. Put your plate down and back away from the snack table

At home we have natural visual and physical cues we use to be “done” and one of those is that we generally don’t carry our plates or napkin around with us all day just in case we need to eat more. Fill up your plate with food, and then when you’ve finished get rid of it. This helps put some pause between grabbing seconds or picking at snacks just because they’re in front of you. It doesn’t mean you can’t have more, but you get a chance to tune in to those fullness cues, enjoy some conversation, and then make a better choice about whether to go back for more. This applies to open bowls as well – instead of grabbing handfuls, fill up a cup or small plate with snacks so your brain can keep an eye on how much you’ve actually eaten. This way you get to enjoy all the things, without the sluggish energy or grumpy guts you’ll get from grazing the night away.

4. Bring something healthy (but also a fun treat too if you feel like it)

Heading to a potluck BBQ or girls night? Offer to be the one to bring the veggies and dip, a beautiful salad, mini egg frittatas or other healthier dish. You’ll not only ensure you have food you feel comfortable eating to help balance out your plate, but you’d be surprised at how quickly these go. Remember most of us in our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and up are also trying to get more energy and eat healthier!

This does not mean you can’t also bring a fun dessert that you’re known for or indulgent appetizer. Healthy eating doesn’t mean you miss out on all the fun! The goal is to make sure there’s food you’re comfortable with, not that delicious things are off the table. I’m often the one to bring dessert to our friend’s dinners!

I’ll be sharing ideas and recipes for healthy dishes to take to your social events next week.

5. Don’t sweat the slips, just move on at the next meal.

To be completely honest, it’s not the single holidays, BBQs or appetizer filled girl’s nights that throw my clients off track. It’s the power we give them. How often have you felt defeated because you totally fell off plan, ate all the things and then decided the weekend was shot and  you’d start again next week? No shame if you’ve been there, this is part of the harmful diet culture in North America where you’re either eating clean or all out (and no in between). But let me be clear, a single night is unlikely to sway your results, but triple that by losing 3 days or half your week? That kind of up and down will slow down your weight loss, gut healing or health progress.

Stop slashing all the tires just because you popped one, and implement the “next meal rule”. When we realize we hit the screw it button, we don’t sweat the slip,  but do hop right back in to what feels good at the next meal.

Weekends away trickier than social eating? I’ve got you with tips and strategies to make summer weekends (and getting back at it during the week) easier. 

Need some help getting your meals for the week balanced and prepared? If you’d like to receive our free Meal Planning Getting Started Guide AND get in on our weekly emails about all things nutrition so you can get clarity and confidence on what you’re eating, join us here!