Throughout time, humans have become accustomed to many traditions that involve food. Holidays, birthday parties, funerals, weddings, baby showers, graduations, job promotions, you name it, they have all become integrated into our lives in one way or another.
So how do you cope when so often food choices at social gatherings are not always aligned with your health goals? It’s really quite easy if you know what you’re doing! And it’s so worth it, too—imagine the difference between the feeling you get from gorging yourself on cupcakes and the feeling of energy and refreshment you get after a healthy meal.
So, before you head out into the world of birthday cake and family functions, keep these tips in mind to ensure your success—and most importantly, the feeling of satisfaction and health you’ll have afterwards.
1. Contribute something healthy to the family dinner or potluck: Don’t like that everything is meat, potatoes and greasy casseroles? Bring a dish your family and friends will like that also just happens to be raw or vegan. This reduces any stigma you might be worried about and also ensures you have something to eat at dinner so that you can enjoy the company of your loved ones. What sorts of dishes might fit the bill? Here are some easy ideas to get you started:
- Raw Dill & Mango Zucchini Pasta
- Tomato Basil Martini Salad
- Orange and Fennel Salad
- All Raw Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai
- Raw Beegan Zesty Lime Pie
2. Help stock the wet bar: Let’s face it—in many families, parties and alcohol are synonymous. If you’re avoiding alcohol, you can still make delicious “mocktails”…which are alcohol-free cocktails that use only fresh ingredients! Try using kombucha in place of alcohol for some of your previously favourite cocktails or create some new ones like these:
- Virgin Mojito (fresh mint, fresh lime juice, and kombucha)
- The Raw Cosmo (fresh cranberry juice and grape juice, a squeeze of lime, and kombucha)
- Click here for 6 more creative alcohol-free superfood drinks like the Carob Mint Mudslide Martini or Maca Cinnamon Shots
3. Right before dessert is served, go for a walk instead: Bonus points if you can convince some family members to go with you! If you’re lucky enough to have snow, enjoy the winter wonderland that surrounds you. If not, just enjoy the refreshing feeling of the cold air against your skin. You will be surprised who you can influence if you go about this confidently—chances are you’ll get some takers from anyone who’s health conscious. By time you get back from the walk, everyone else will be done with dessert.
4. Plan a healthy outing: There are many different ways you can be still be social that don’t involve restaurants, night clubs or binging on booze. Plan activities that you can do with your friends and family that combine health and wellness with lasting memories. Go apple or strawberry picking, take a hike or a bike ride together, plan a ski trip, try out a climbing gym, spend a morning at the farmers market, take a run clinic or go to a yoga class. Have fun together and get healthy doing it!
5. Bring a raw dessert: I’ve noticed that if my family members like anything raw that isn’t some sort of salad, it’s raw desserts. You can get creative with all kinds of date nut balls, pies and cookies that your family members will enjoy right along side you.
6. Write yourself a positive affirmation: Take a sticky note, and write something like this on it: “I love the feeling of being healthy more than the taste of any unhealthy treat”. Now put it somewhere you will see it often while you are out—I like to put mine in my wallet or somewhere in my purse. This small reminder will help you to remember why you’re doing this—you’re not depriving yourself but instead yoPlan a healthy outing:
7. Practice saying “no”: Write down on a piece of paper all the ways in which someone might tempt you to fall off the wagon. Then, practice saying “No, thank you!” politely to each one. Watch yourself in the mirror and make sure you smile confidently each time!
8. Eat something healthy beforehand and arm yourself with healthy snacks: Having a large salad or smoothie before leaving the house is a great way to prevent the munchies from creeping up on you. By eating something healthy before you leave, you will stay full for longer and are less likely to be temped by any unhealthy options put before you. Bringing a small jar of nuts, dried fruit and seeds or an apple is a great way to handle cravings when they pop up.
9. A little confidence goes a long way: Writing down your strong reasons for staying healthy is the best tool you can use to remind you why you made the choice to be healthy in the first place. Maybe it was to lose a few pounds or because you want to live to see your great grandchildren. By reminding yourself that you chose a healthy lifestyle for reasons beyond the odd craving for a hot fudge sundae will give you confidence in those choices and the confidence to say no. When you say no to what you don’t want, you say yes to what you do want.
10. If you mess up, forgive yourself and move on: If you get a flat tire while driving, would you get out of the car and pop the other three? Of course not! As the saying goes, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. The same goes for your diet and lifestyle. If you skip exercise or eat something you don’t normally have, just acknowledge it and move on. Making yourself wrong or beating yourself up only reenforces fear and feelings of failure. You made the choice to be healthy and are doing everything you can to stay that way but you are still human and bound to give in to temptation on occasion. Don’t let that reverse everything you have already accomplished. Keep going!
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