You want to eat healthy. You also want to maintain an active social life with friends who don’t share your passion for healthy living.
You want to be a gracious guest, but also don’t want to feel derailed in your health, with every dinner invite from an acquaintance.
How do you maintain your healthy eating habits, without it consuming your social life?
Is it possible pursue a healthy lifestyle without coming across as a health snob, or offending anyone?
The answer is yes, and no.
Yes, because I don’t believe God would call us to steward our health and our bodies in a way that is rude, selfish, or judgmental of others.
No, because we can’t control someone else’s reaction to our choices.
I want to talk about a couple of different aspects, regarding living a healthy life, in an unhealthy world.
- Our attitude toward others who don’t share our values, and those who are simply in a different stage on their own health journey
- Practical ways to maintain healthy eating habits, with a busy social life
When it comes to stewarding our bodies and our health, there is grace. Grace for when we stumble or fall. And we need to show that same grace toward others.
I believe there is also grace for when you choose to be a blessing to someone else, or show gracious thankfulness, instead of choosing the “healthy” option.
I’m afraid that in the past, I have been what some would consider, a “health snob”. And I still struggle with maintaining what’s a healthy diet for ME, while recognizing that not everyone is in the same place.
A few things I’ve learned:
- It’s okay to “get de-railed” by someone else or a social obligation. I don’t think we are putting our health in it’s proper place, if we’re sacrificing relationships for “sticking to the plan”. Sometimes our food choices will be out of our control, and we need to just BE OKAY WITH THAT.
- Most of the time, the choice is still yours, to eat healthy or not. There is such a thing as peer pressure, when it comes to eating healthy or not. Most of us struggle with a desire to “fit in”. Don’t be afraid to stand out in your healthy lifestyle.
If you and I are simply living out what it means for us to be a good steward of our health, this should act as a good example and an encouragement for others. Not as some “holier-than-thou” judgment.
Take responsibilty for what you’re fueling your body with, and make the best choice you can in the given situation. Don’t fall into the ALL-OR-NOTHING trap. For example: don’t eat dessert, just because the dinner you were served was unhealthy, so you “might as well”. Now, if you truly WANT dessert, or had planned to have this treat, then fine. Enjoy and savor every bite.
Eating Healthy with a Social Life
My motto is always, Plan Ahead. But don’t freak out or beat yourself up when the unexpected happens.
This won’t look the same all of the time. If I threw up my hands and said “forget it” every time I shared a meal with others, that wouldn’t bring me to a good place regarding my health. But, if I stressed and worried about it (guilty!), I could make my life miserable, and even dread time with family and friends. And if I made others feel bad because they weren’t eating “healthy enough” for me, that wouldn’t be right either. You have to choose what’s right for you, but in a way that doesn’t shame others for not making the same choice.
I’ve categorized social gatherings involving food, into 3 groups.
1. Dinner at Someone’s House
If it’s close family, you should probably keep an open dialogue about this. It will depend on how understanding they are, and how similarly they eat. Try to strike a balance, between doing what’s BEST for your health, and just “going with the flow” so as not to cause headaches.
Maybe an acquaintance asks you to dinner…in which case you should politely accept whatever they serve. But you can still think of it as a compromise. For example: skip dessert or any sugary beverages offered. And you don’t have to eat a lot, or even eat some of EVERY SINGLE dish on the table.
2. Eating Out With Friends
Number one, you can certainly suggest somewhere with healthy options. And most (if not all) restaurants are fine if you ask for modifications…such as extra veggies, dressing on the side, or the salad croutons left off…you get the picture. Unless it’s a cheat meal or mindful splurge, don’t forget to make it a COMPROMISE, rather than an all-or-nothing deal.
3. Some Kind of Party/Gathering That Includes Food
First of all, you are under no obligation to eat anything. No one will be offended if it’s a potluck, or just snacks served. If you do choose to indulge, pick your treats wisely. If there are healthy options available, go for those. There are multiple strategies you could follow. It all depends on the situation.
(A) take a protein bar
(B) bring your own healthy snack/side dish to share
(C) eat before going
I’m not saying that you have to give a lot of thought to planning ahead. You may decide that for you, it’s not worth it in this instance.
But, please don’t fall into the trap of resigning yourself beforehand to eating a ton of junk, or completely letting loose, because you THINK there won’t be any healthy alternatives. There are so many times when I’ve thought, well, I’ll just deal with the lack of healthy options when I get there, and I’ll think of it as a treat. Then lo and behold, when I arrive, there’s actually plenty of healthy options! But, my mind is already made up to eat junk food (whether I actually want any of what’s there or not), and so I pass on the healthier stuff.
Just be mindful of what your body needs, what you might be truly craving, and how what you’re eating will affect you an hour or a day from now. You can relax and enjoy time with family and friends, in a healthy way.
Have you ever been a “health snob”? How do you handle eating healthy when out with friends? Join in the conversation below!