Can I tell you something? I’m not a hermit. Big surprise I know! I’m a VERY social person. I like to be with people and one of the most popular ways to spend time with friends and family is eating together. So what’s a girl to do? Skip the get togethers? Hide in the corner of my kitchen, rocking back and forth, eating green beans, mumbling incohesively about calories and macros and never leave the house? No. Of course not.
Can I tell you something else? I’m a planner. It’s true. I LOVE a good plan! It gives me joy and brings me peace. A well thought out plan with simple to follow steps is just the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean, I don’t actually eat sliced bread, or really any kind of bread, but you know what I mean.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with treat days or a treat meal as long as it doesn’t turn into a treat week and then a treat month and so on. Some people can have a little bit of chocolate or treat of their choice each day or on the weekends and that’s enough to keep them from feeling deprived and falling into a torrid love affair with Ben & Jerry. I am not one of those people. My shut off valve is either non-functioning or non-existent. If I have a little I’ll eat it all and when it’s all gone I’ll devour the next thing I can get my hands on and then the next and then the next and before you know it I’m lying in the middle of the living room floor, with a 10 pound belly bloat, surrounded by chocolate wrappers, chip bags and cheese crumbs. NOT an attractive sight (or feeling). I’m an all-in kind of gal no matter what I’m doing. So with food I’m either all-in to junk food or all-in to eating healthy. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground for my body and since I really hate the way I look and feel on the junk food side of the fence I do much better not to taste the grass over there at all.
So how do I handle social outings involving food? I make a plan! Most of the time I can bring my own
food with me and it works just fine. As long as you’re eating something as everyone else is also eating it seems to work just fine. I don’t feel deprived because my hands are busy with food just like everyone else and they don’t think I’m weird. Ok. Well, maybe they do think I’m weird but that’s beside the point. I take my little cooler bag of food containers to potlucks, family meals and even into restaurants. I’ve had zero negative responses from anyone thus far. If someone asks, I just tell them I’m doing a body building challenge and that’s usually more than enough explanation.
BUT, what if I can’t take my food with me? What do I do then? You guessed it! I make a plan.
Last weekend I went on a girl’s overnight trip to celebrate the birthday of a dear friend. We were going to make multiple stops during the evening for drinks, appetizers, dinner and then a live band. I decided I did not want to lug around my bag of food containers all evening and luckily my friend is also a planner so I knew exactly where we would be going. I got on the computer and I did some research.
I didn’t have to meet my friends at the hotel till 4pm so the first half of my day was filled with my normal foods I’m used to eating. I ate one of my meals right before I left the house so I wouldn’t start the evening out famished and I packed a sparkling water to enjoy at the hotel as my friends were having cocktails while we were all getting ready to go.
I’m not drinking during this challenge so I volunteered to be the designated driver for the evening’s festivities. At our cocktail hour stop and through the rest of the evening I ordered soda water with lime. I love gin and tonic so this drink very closely resembled what I’m used to seeing in my hand when I go out with friends. I even took along some natural sweetener packets in my purse in case I felt like adding a little sweetness to it.
At our appetizer stop I ordered myself a salad with romaine, cucumber, roasted red peppers and lemon vinaigrette on the side. I chose to skip the feta cheese since I would be getting some fat from the dressing.
At our dinner stop I ordered rotisserie chicken (I didn’t eat the skin) with a side of asparagus and I skipped the mashed potatoes for a side of roasted brussel sprouts, carrots and parsnips.
I had a packet of salmon in my purse just in case I got hungry while we were dancing with the band, but I didn’t end up needing it and ate it once we got back to the hotel room. P.S. If you open a packet of salmon in a room full of your girlfriends, or really anyone for that matter, you might want to warn them first or you’ll be accused of ripping the world’s most offensive fart.
I had a great time with my friends and I stayed on track. Am I always going to do it this way? Probably not always, but probably more times than not. Am I ever going to have cheat meals? Sure I am. I’m just choosing to be very very choosy about when to have them. I don’t have a plan yet for Thanksgiving yet but I’m working on it. My sister-in-law has invited us to their house and they’re doing the turkey. She wants me to do the sides which is great because then I can control what goes in them. I can make healthier swaps for some things and it will be easier on all our tummies. At the end of the month I AM going to a homemade pizza party at a dear friend’s house and I am NOT packing any food for that gathering let me tell you. I’ve been dreaming of that pizza and I’m going to savor every bite! It’s all about choices. I can make turkey and green beans and mashed potatoes any day but it’s not very often I get to have Pizza by Jo!
Stephanie Neher is a Tennessee belle living in Minne-SOH-ta with her very own Paul Bunyan. She homeschools their 2 little blue oxen and keeps her figure red-flannel-ready through Zumba, lifting heavy pieces of iron and anything else physical that strikes her fitness fancy.