As much as we like to boast about our healthy habits, are we sabotaging our own efforts to sustain a healthy lifestyle by thoughtlessly choosing unhealthy food options while out with friends? It is no doubt that many Washingtonians are social eaters and this is evident by the ever-growing number of dining establishments surging upon this conservative and liberally mixed political crowd in the city.
DC has lots of dining options for the busy Washingtonians but are we allowing our inner circle of friends to lead us astray from our healthy eating?
Although there has been much research performed on the direct connection to how and with whom we dine and our expanding waistlines in the US, it just takes being observant to see how social dining is affecting our own health. When most people crave unhealthy food they tend to lean towards outings with friends who indulge in more high calorie/high fat food because they are basically on the same platform. When desiring to eat healthier, these same people go and grab that friend who is always talking about healthy eating.
We lean more towards the friends who encourage you to stay within the comfort zone. We want to avoid being judged or being held accountable for our own food choices we align ourselves with the people who are eating what we are eating. As nice as that thought seems to have someone around who will encourage you to indulge, making healthy lifestyle choices including eating better quality foods for your body comes with unwritten guidelines that you should mentally carry with you when you are dining out socially.
Consider some of the following tips when enjoying social dining time with friends and colleagues:
- First tip is it is always a good idea to dine with friends who have similar healthy eating habits and let those close to you know your healthy dining goals. These people want you along for the “yummy” ride but you should never feel pressured to eat something that goes against your personal objectives. Choose a different social activity for those friends who don’t share your healthy eating lifestyle.
The second tip for combatting the social dining temptations is to be aware of those who will tell you that it’s okay to eat less healthy options in moderation. Normally, those who say that are the ones who eat freely without any personal health objectives and they don’t want you to make them feel guilty about their choices. Even though eating some things in moderation won’t necessarily hurt you, you don’t want to run the risk of telling yourself “everything in moderation” everyday because after a while moderation becomes routine. Discipline is important to being faithful to your own objectives. Politely decline the offer and enjoy your healthy choices.
- The third tip is to stay in and socialize. You would be amazed at how easy it is to make a healthy dish for friends without the guilt of going outside of your healthy eating goals. Make it a group event where you all get together and cook delicious meals. There are literally thousands of websites stocked with delicious savory or sweet healthy recipes that will make your social dining experience something special. You never know, you may want to dine in more often when you see how healthy your food can be and how much money you can save by staying in.
Not every healthy meal has to be a salad but how about making it creative for all to enjoy. These are five of my favorite “go to” websites for delicious and elegant healthy meal options that are perfect for nights in with the friends:
Bon appetite, DC!