How to Easily & Healthily Navigate Social Events

If rethinking that RSVP, learn how to confidently say “YES!” to any social gathering without the worry of following off track.

How to Easily & Healthily Navigate Social Events

When starting a new eating plan, you might question whether or not attending social events will derail your progress. Know that you are not alone and social gatherings can and should be enjoyed!

With the bistroMD program, we want you to build and sustain healthy lifestyle habits, which include attending holiday and social events without stress and guilt. 

Navigate social gatherings and stay on track with these actionable steps for before, during, and following the event. 

Before the Event

Having a game plan and knowing how to navigate social events beforehand can ease the stress and worry of attending. 

Create Your Plan of Action

Being proactive, putting a plan in place, and sticking to it can help you keep on track with your goals. When creating your plan of action, consider and evaluate the following: 

  • What will be on the menu? If hosting or bringing a dish, consider making healthier food options/swaps like baking with applesauce instead of oil or low-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. 
  • Which foods/beverages will I enjoy? While you should nourish the body with lean protein and high-fiber foods, allow yourself to enjoy that seasonal favorite! 
  • What are my mental and emotional boundaries? Feel out of control around the food? Instead of focusing on the food, try surrounding yourself with loved ones.
  • What behaviors can I do to set myself up for success? Continue your daily healthy habits - what you do on a regular basis will set you up for the best success! 

Keep Hunger At Bay 

With a scheduled social event or holiday, you might think saving up on calories is best. However, hoarding calories until the event can actually backfire. 

Showing up to the party ravenous can lead to food binges, even if a social game plan is put into place. Instead of skipping meals, honor hunger and eat a balanced snack or meal especially rich in protein. 

During the Event

After creating your action plan, execute it with ease during the event. Ways to enjoy the party or gathering, all while staying on track with your health goals, include practicing portion control, eating mindfully, and immersing yourself in the company of others.

Build a Healthy Meal Plate

Whether at an event, restaurant, or home, knowing how to build a healthy meal plate is key for balancing nutrients. A balanced plate also keeps calories naturally in check, all without the need for meticulous tracking!

Build your base the bistroMD way with these 4 simple steps:

1. Load the plate up with at least 1 cup (the size of a fist) with non-starchy veggies: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and green beans. Try to steer away from or limit cream-based veggie dishes, such as mayo coleslaw and green bean casserole, and go for roasted, broiled, or raw varieties like a side salad dressed with a light vinaigrette. 

2. Pair veggies with 4-5 oz (palm of hand) of lean protein, including turkey breast, ham, chicken, and fish. Choose grilled and roasted varieties if available rather than those fried in oil.

3. Balance with 1/2 cup cooked (light bulb) healthy grain or starch like brown rice, quinoa, bean salad, and potatoes. 

4. Allow a serving (light bulb) of your favorite traditional dish like grandma’s famous casserole!

Practice Portion Control

Practicing portion control might seem challenging during social events, but these methods will make the practice seem effortless! In addition to building a healthy meal plate, control portions by: 

  • Drinking water before and with meals to help keep hunger at bay.
  • Using smaller plates as available. Filling a smaller plate, as opposed to a larger one, can naturally keep portions controlled and lower the risk of overplating/overconsuming. 
  • Scoping the offered foods before plating. Eagerly plating foods can lead to overeating and even unfullfillment. 
  • Waiting at least 15 minutes before heading up another round of food. If still hungry, make an effort to choose and eat nourishing foods.

Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is important year-round, but especially beneficial when it comes to eating and enjoying social gatherings with a bounty of food. And instead of avoiding those seasonal and party favorites, give yourself permission to enjoy them while practicing mindful eating. 

Thoroughly enjoy food by appreciating the smells and flavors rather than quickly scarfing them down. Eat slowly, tune into hunger and satiety cues, and truly be present in the moment.

Really, eating and staying healthy is much more than eating fruits and vegetables. And mindful eating is a great method to help one build a healthy relationship with food. 

Follow Healthy, Holiday Drinking Tips

First and foremost, aim to keep hydrated with water before and throughout the event. Also try to limit or pass on sugary drinks like soda and juice, as they supply empty calories. 

If deciding to drink alcohol at an event, do so responsibly. Healthy tips to sip to the holiday season include:

  • Drinking in moderation. Men are encouraged to limit drinks to two servings daily. Women should stick to one per day.
  • Sticking to proper drinking sizes. This means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of spirits.
  • Avoiding empty calories with sugary mixers. Elevate drinks with seltzer water, a squirt of lime, and low-calorie options.

After the Event

How you handle the minutes and days following the event can be equally, if not more, important than actually attending it. After the event, especially after eating, consider trying out these simple, yet effective tips.

Incorporate Enjoyable Movement

Incorporate movement after the meal, but not in a punishing way to try and burn off any excess calories! Whether to boost energy or ease anxiety, appreciate just how movement makes you feel.

Include movement you find joy in doing, including taking a hike outdoors dancing in the living room to your favorite music. If celebrating a special occasion with loved ones, gather for a friendly game of kickball or other group activity all can enjoy. 

Relocate from the Food

Food tends to be abundant at social gatherings, which only heightens the temptation for grazing and mindless eating. Limit these risks by moving yourself away from the food.

Ways to relocate and take your mind away from the food include helping out with the dishes, visiting with a friend in another room, or going for a scenic drive. 

Start a New Tradition

Food is a common fixture during social events and the holidays. While delicious food can and should be enjoyed, the focus should not solely be on eating. 

To move the focus away from food, start a fun new tradition! Go volunteer over the holidays, reminisce on funny baby pictures at a birthday party, or play a board game after the celebratory meal. 

Give Yourself Some Grace

Especially if you overindulged, you might have thoughts on throwing in the towel and restarting. Instead of having an “all-or-nothing” mentality, give yourself some grace and get right back on track!

Remember that “unhealthy” meals or days on occasion will not tarnish progress, though regularly overindulging can. At the end of the day, holiday or not, goals are met by being consistent and are sustained by likewise enjoying life’s special moments. 

Forget Perfection

With loved ones coming over to celebrate the holidays, you certainly want to entertain to the best of your ability. However, it is important to ditch the concept of perfection and accommodate to yourself, too.

Hosting a party or get-together is admirable, but also remember the holidays might not be enjoyed by all. So rather than stressing over minor details, remember the major theme of the holidays:

Being with loved ones and enjoying them together!

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