Whether you are transitioning to a plant-based diet or are simply wanting to make more healthful, mindful food choices, nothing can cause sabotage quite like a social gathering. It can be a toxic combination of food, drink and social pressures that tend to create the perfect storm for derailing our efforts and throwing it all out the window in the heat of the moment. It's helpful to remember why we go to these events. To enjoy the comradery or the coming together in the spirit of a good game, to have meaningful conversation and catch up with friends or colleagues, to witness the love shared at a wedding or celebrate family during the holidays. Wouldn’t it be nice to do all that without being distracted by the food?
Tips for Staying Plant-based at Social Gatherings
1. Make a RULE for Yourself:
Decide ahead of time what you are not going to eat at the event. That way when the tray comes around, your automatic response is “No thank you.” The decision has already been made and you’re not caught off guard, left to wrestle with yourself over whether you should have that one piece of cheese or not. (By the way it will never end up being just one piece. How will you feel on the other side of this slip?) Some examples of a rule might be: I do not eat cheese., I do not eat fried foods., I do not eat dips made with dairy. I do not eat chips…..see what I mean? Just pick one or two rules around a trigger food that you know will save you the most sabotage.
2. Don’t Stand By the Food:
How often are we engaging in conversation with people, yet the nearby food table is seducing us to refill our plates? Fill a small plate and get the hell outta dodge. Standing by the food table is simply putting yourself through some useless resistance training that, if you’re new to these changes, will likely inhibit your success. Find someone to talk with, elsewhere or go outside for some fresh air to take a break until you’re feeling stronger. This last one also applies when you're seated next to that special someone whose political position is wearing out your last nerve. Just sayin'.
3. Bring Your Own Food:
This tip applies to informal parties and gatherings. Check with the host, if it’s appropriate, to give him or her a heads up that you’d like to bring a dish or two to pass. They will most likely be relieved to know they will not need to prepare something special for you. Some good examples of appetizers would be Cowboy Caviar, fresh salsa & chips or guacamole,
7 Layer Dip, vegan artichoke spinach dip, veggie or fruit tray...whatever it is you like to munch on, be sure to bring it! Chances are it will blend in with everything else on the table and everyone can enjoy.
4. Limit the Alcohol:
I know, sometimes we drink just to get through these things. The problem is that the calories add up. Drinking alcohol loosens our inhibitions and impairs our judgement, enabling us to throw all our goals out the window for the time being. Even worse, when we are eating and drinking, our bodies use alcohol for fuel or energy FIRST, storing our food as fat to maybe or maybe not get to later. Try setting a 2 drink limit for yourself or better yet see if you can navigate this thing without a buzz. Chances are your discussions will be more meaningful and you’ll wake up feeling empowered and energized -sans the hangover- the next morning.
BONUS TIP: Phone a friend.
Or text. Or DM or PM, I don't care if you use ESP to reach out to someone who will support and help you stay accountable. It might look something like this..."HELP! I'm funneling the entire cheese tray into my jacket pockets!!" Just typing or saying it out loud should wake you out of your stupor...you'll put the cheese back on the tray and return to business as usual.
You've got this!!
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Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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