When you’re trying to make healthier, clean-eating choices, dining out with friends or coworkers can be viewed as the ultimate challenge and an invitation to put aside even our best thought out plans. The first step is to fundamentally change the way we think about these outings. What if we viewed these events as an opportunity to learn something new about the people you are with and shift the focus of the gathering towards friendship and away from food and drink? Easier said than done sometimes. That being said, why not develop a strategy and set of rules that will guide decision-making, even after we’ve had a few drinks? Our rules set can be simple. Trial and adjustment over time will help come up with your own personalized best practices for having a great evening out without loading up on unhealthy foods and drinks that make us feel lousy the next day. Here’s a few ideas that my clients say have helped them:
- If you know where you’ll be dining, research the menu in advance and choose what you will and will not order.
- Choose, in advance, exactly what you will be drinking for the evening and how much. (Personal mantras like “One and done” or “Two and through,” work for some!)Drink water in between any alcoholic beverages to help slow down the rate of absorption.
- Ask for a side of lemon wedges as an alternative to salad dressings and sauces.
- And most importantly, truly enjoy the company of the people you are with. Challenge yourself to learn one new thing about each person or suggest a fun table game to shift focus away from food and towards each other.
With some practice, you’ll develop your own strategies and get to the place where 90% of the time you will follow your self-developed guideposts and 10% of the time you’ll plan to splurge a little bit. When you want to splurge, plan to splurge! Be mindful of that splurge and enjoy the heck out of it! You’ll not feel deprived and you’ll jump right back on your eating plan the next day! This is the cornerstone of living well in our busy world.