Healthy Habits & Social Gatherings

Healthy Habits & Social Gatherings

Does it have to be a salad?

For many of you, including myself, a social gathering is an opportunity to destress after a busy week and what’s a night out without good company, food and drinks?

No one wants to dull it out with a boring salad.

Social eating is part of our culture, tradition or celebration. Be it a birthday party, family BBQ, a wedding or work event, we all feel challenged when presented with food choices that we are not used to eating in our normal routine.

The most common perceived barriers related to social/family events are;

  • being surrounded by family/friends that do not share your same goals towards healthy eating
  • wanting to join for a drink with friends
  • craving fried food
  • having no control on what is being served
  • being constantly surrounded by food without a defined portion (unlimited access)
  • presented with a majority of unhealthy choices
  • feeling the odd one out
  • social pressure to join traditions

However, social events/dining experiences don’t have to be frustrating. The following tips will help you navigate yourself though the night without feeling guilty the next morning.

  1. Familiarise yourself with the menu before going, you’ll be more likely to make a healthy choice.
  2. Fit in some form of exercise before your event/dinner.
  3. Share the starter/dessert.
  4. Avoid fast-food restaurants.
  5. When choosing pizza/burgers - go for the simplest option with the least amount of toppings. Avoid BBQ sauces, mayonnaise, ketchup. When choosing pizzas, go for a rucola & parma, margherita or fungi. Keep it as simple as possible.
  6. Avoid attending these events in a hangry state. Have a healthy small snack before going, such as nuts. People tend to eat larger portions and order extra food when hungry.
  7. Minimise your bread portion to just 1 slice.
  8. Request sauces on the side. This will allow you to decide how much sauce you would like to add. Note that sauces are usually high in calorie content due to butter/cream.
  9. Go for baked/grilled or steamed options rather than fried.
  10. Choose vegetables as your side dish. If going for a BBQ take sides consisting of vegetables such as grilled peppers & onions with feta crumbles or baked sweet potatoes to avoid having way too many sausages.
  11. Choose tomato based sauces over creamy white sauces (less calories).
  12. Opt for a light soup as a starter.
  13. Avoid soft drinks/cocktails loaded with sugar and syrups. Opt for a glass of red/white wine, a simple gin and tonic or even better, sparkling water with lemon wedges.
  14. Eat slowly & drink lots of water with your meal. Take time to savour the food.
  15. Fit in a small walk after dinner by parking a bit far from the restaurant.
  16. During weddings/night outs for drinks, avoid having too many cocktails, as their ingredients often include sugary syrups/ fruit juices. If you would like to join your friends with an alcoholic beverage, stick to tonic as your mixer to avoid adding soft drinks. Ideal choices include; gin & tonic, white/red wine, dry martini, tequila with lime, vodka soda. Add flavour by adding frozen fruit, mint or cucumber.

Ultimately, be mindful that one day of enjoying social eating is not going to ruin your entire diet. It’s a balance between enjoying food and making the right choices, no need to be on the extreme ends of the spectrum. For example if going out for your birthday dinner, you may still have a slice of cake, compensate by making healthy food choices throughout the day instead.

Healthy habits don’t have to be boring, you just have to learn how to strike a balance.

Do you need more tips to achieve your goals? Get in contact with me to get started.

Rebecca Micallef Dalli
Rebecca Micallef Dalli Member of the British Dietetic Association (SENR Registered), MSc. in Exercise and Nutrition Science. SENR Graduate Registrant
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