Maintaining a healthy social life is an important and fun part of life, but it can often be blamed for derailing a healthy eating streak or resulting in 1 too many margaritas and late night snacks. So is it possible to balance healthy eating with a healthy social life? We’re here to tell you, yes it is… And we recommend it!
Read on to learn some handy tips for enjoying the best of both worlds.
The Pros To Socialising
Humans are social creatures and having a healthy social life is really important for our overall health and happiness. Research shows that those who are less social or regularly eat alone often consume less varied diets, missing out on potential health benefits. Socialising also positively influences our emotional and mental health, improving overall quality of life.
As we all know, social outings often involve food. So, if you have physique-based goals you are working towards it can be helpful to learn some techniques to help make this work for you. And this is where we come in…
Our Top Tips for Navigating Healthy Eating in Social Situations
1. Look at the bigger picture of your diet
It’s what we do consistently over time that really matters and viewing your intake over a day or week, rather than over a single meal, can get you in a much better frame of mind. If you know the food at an event is likely to be less protein or fibre-full, try to have a nutritious meal planned before or afterwards to help give your body some of the good stuff for the day. This approach keeps your health and goals in mind but also makes sure you don’t sacrifice memories for a self-set goal, because while healthy eating is important it shouldn’t be at the expense of enjoying time with family and friends.
2. Don't arrive starving
Continuing to consume balanced meals in the lead up to a social event (i.e. not skipping meals or saving calories) is a great way to prevent yourself from arriving ravenous. When we arrive at a social gathering past our comfortable point of hunger we are much more likely to over consume when food does become available, eat less mindfully and not listen to our hunger and fullness cues. By continuing to follow your regular eating patterns prior to a social outing you will keep your blood sugar stable, be able to make more intentional food choices at the event and your body will thank you!
3. Make conscious choices
Loading up on chips & chocolate will likely leave you hungry not long after, but making sure you get some protein and veggies or salad in during the social occasion can help to control your overall consumption while keeping you feeling your best. Now, we’re definitely not telling you to say no when your favourite dessert is on offer, but if you’re at a bbq and there are some more nutritious options available it might be a good idea to work some of these into your intake before finishing strong with something sweet.
4. Know Your Drink
Our drink choices can unintentionally add a large amount of energy into our day. Depending on your goals, this can be a really easy way to manage your overall intake and prevent consuming too many unnecessary calories. If you are consuming alcohol, try alternating each drink with a water or sugar free soft drink. If it’s cocktail night with the girls, you will likely feel a lot better savouring 2 or 3 of your favourite cocktails rather than consuming 5 or 6 long islands mindlessly. Your head and wallet will thank you!
5. Allow yourself to consume treats every day
We’re all human and if there’s one sure fire way to make us crave a certain food it’s to deprive ourselves of it! By incorporating your favourite foods into your diet every day or week you will be less inclined to go crazy on the cheese board and be able to enjoy your favourite pieces in moderation. Food is a fun part of life and you don’t need to save that for once or twice a year.
6. Invite your friends to some non food-centred social outings
We often catch up with our friends and family over the universal language (food), but arranging some non food-centred catch ups can be a really fun way to get to know your friends in a new and exciting way, as well as adding to the memory bank! Whether that’s going for a beach walk, a waterfall hike, taking a painting class or dancing - try and challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and socialise in a new way every month or 2.
7. Leave the guilt behind
Socialising is a fun part of life and guilt should play no part in it. Did you eat a second piece of cake on your birthday because it was just too delicious? Lucky you! Enjoy a couple of your mum’s famous cookies at your yearly family gathering? Absolutely fine! Food is here to be enjoyed and having negative feelings towards any of your food choices afterwards is definitely something we want to avoid.
Prioritising your social and emotional health are important parts of maintaining a well balanced life, and staying on track with your health & fitness goals while doing so is definitely possible! Incorporating a few of the tips in this article can help to bring the joy back to celebratory food and also help you to be more aware of your intake so you can enjoy without the guilt.
Remember - there’s nothing healthy about beating yourself up over any of your food and drink choices, so enjoy the party, be present, consume things that make you feel good and remember there’s more to food than just calories and macros.
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