There are several strategies that you can use if social eating / drinking is an issue for you.
The following article, from sparkpeople.com, a weight-loss website, outlines four of these strategies:
From the article:
“So what’s the solution? Lock yourself in your house for the rest of your life? Of course not. It’s not easy, but developing a game-plan ahead of time can help you stay on track and not regret going out for a good time with your buddies.
• If possible, review the menu ahead of time and make your selection. That way you’ll be less tempted by what others are ordering.
• Split a dessert with a friend. If you’re craving the apple pie, ask someone if they want to share it with you.
• Suggest other activities that don’t have to involve food, such as bowling, a movie or dancing.
• Bring along a friend who is also trying to make healthy choices. It’s easier to resist temptations when you’re doing it with someone else.”
I found this article after realizing that my own strategy for social situations may not work for you.
Nevertheless, I’ll speak a little bit here about my own social strategies.
I am a very social person, but I also have no problem being different from my group of friends, even if I really enjoy their company and want to be around them. Usually, throughout my life, this has not been much of a problem. Every once in a while, people will get repeatedly nasty about my life choices or my body, in which case their company is no longer enjoyable for me, so I decide to spend time with my other friends instead!
During my first term of massage school, I had a wonderful group of friends with whom I went to a German bar every Friday evening.
Here is a photo of us at the bar. Left to Right: Koquisa, Ed, Me, Morgan, Allison:
I ate a lot of healthy food throughout the day, so, often by the time I went to the bar, I wasn’t feeling very hungry. On the occasional Fridays when I did feel hungry, fortunately, this particular bar has some very healthy offerings (grilled chicken sandwich with apricot chutney and sweet-hot mustard, anyone? My mouth is watering right now! The sandwich didn’t even have cheese in it!). Some days (when I felt full), I would only have water! For 2-3 hours!
I occasionally fielded some good-natured ribbing from my classmates for my choice not to drink. Once, the group was ranking on me for my tiny “sample” glass of German beer, which I hadn’t even finished off yet ~ over the course of an hour! I remained good-natured about it, and made a pertinent, slightly self-deprecating joke that made everyone laugh. The group then switched to other conversational topics.
I generally have about three alcoholic drinks per year, which I recognize is probably not a workable plan for most people. I recommend enjoying a drink occasionally, but keeping in mind that alcohol is just a lot of empty calories, and usually doesn’t even taste that good.
If you cut down on alcohol and/or fatty foods, or eliminate alcohol, and your friends give you a hard time about it, stay laid-back, smiling, confident, and non-defensive regarding your choices. Humor is always a good deflector, so if you can crack a well-timed joke that is relevant to the conversation, that may be sufficient. If it feels right to you, you can also say what I did (more than once) to my hilarious, interesting, outgoing group of classmate friends: I let them know that even though I don’t really drink, I like spending time with them so much that I wanted to go to the bar anyway.
In terms of social eating, I used the following strategies:
1. Host dinner parties, or simply brunches or lunches for two. I do this frequently. I love it. This way, everyone is happy: what friend doesn’t like to come over for a delicious home-cooked meal rather than spending a lot of money on a dinner out? Also, then I can control my portion sizes, quality of food, and calorie count.
2. If at all possible, I tried to eat just prior to meeting my friend at a restaurant. I typically opted for filling, but healthy, combinations such as a whole grain, beans, and lean chicken. This way, when I arrived at the restaurant, I felt fine with ordering a salad (always get dressing on the side and then use it sparingly; most dressings are a whopping 90-100 calories per tablespoon!).
3. As the article suggests, I had friends over to my home to participate in other activities that did not center around food, such as playing a board game, watching a movie, or just chatting. In these cases, I set the time of their arrival to fall between meal-times (such as 2pm or 8pm). That way, I could simply offer a snack or two, water or juice, and tea.
One of my friends, who was trying to lose weight herself, was one of my biggest challenges. She would come over and bring a huge pile of homemade chocolates as a gift for me, or some enormous cupcakes!
Of course, she was fully informed of my weight-loss journey, and I do not believe that she was actively trying to sabotage me. I think it just didn’t occur to her that she was making things harder for me.
Because we were close enough that I did not want to distance myself from her, but not so close that I felt comfortable calling her on her “gifts,” this ended up being a tricky situation for me.
I admit: I ate the homemade chocolates. They were quite tasty, but I felt sick afterwards.
But, when the cupcakes came not long afterwards (from Whole Foods… NOT everything from Whole Foods is good for you!), I thanked her profusely with a huge smile on my face for her thoughtfulness (giving her the benefit of the doubt; I’m sure in her mind, she WAS being thoughtful), and put the cupcakes aside. Later, after she left, I threw them in the garbage.