Surviving Party Season: Eating Healthy
Of all the seasons, summer seems to be the one that strikes fear into our hearts.
It is time to unveil the body into bathers; shorts, sleeveless dresses, tops, skirts and sandals, and sometimes this can be a really confronting time. A time when we realise that perhaps we were a little too zealous or carefree with our food choices during winter.
However, summer brings with it the most wonderful of food choices and meals.
Summer is a time for shedding excess kilos, eating healthy and getting into the sun.
Well at least that is what we think will happen.
But, there is a downside to summer
Summer in the southern hemisphere also sees the ‘silly’ season accompany it.
I was speaking to a friend today, who said, “oh my goodness, how can I continue to eat healthy when I have been invited to four different parties already, and the invites have only just begun?”.
Parties can be a nightmare when you are committed to a particular diet regime. The food offered at parties tends to be; deep fried fish bits, foods filled with all sorts of ‘gourmet’ fat laden ingredients, calorie laden animal products; dairy based dips with gluten chips and then the odd piece of vegetarian sushi or Vietnamese rice paper rolls just to appease the vegetarians in the group. Rarely are vegans catered for and if they are, then it is often deep fried.
Sit down Christmas parties, are often all about the turkey, or the meat of some description with roasted oil laden vegetables and gravy. Ice creams and puddings, cakes filled with dairy and other such ‘exotic’ fare. It is rare to go anywhere where people following a wholefood, plant-based, oil-free regime can get a great feed.
OK so what to do?
Tip no. 1
If it is a friend, tell your host what you require. Keep it simple. I usually just tell them that I have a strict diet regime due to a health challenge, and if they could make me a simple salad and a spud I will be ecstatic, or I ask if it would be acceptable for me to bring my own food. A salad with a spud, just so they know. I don’t do anything fancy because I do not want the host to feel inadequate in anyway. This always works, and if I say it is for a health reason, no one feels threatened.
Tip no. 2
Restaurants. Ring ahead, ring them and tell them what you require. Again I keep it simple, a salad, streamed vegetables, potatoes, lentil dish or rice dish. Depending upon where I am going.
I have only had one restaurant tell me they would not be able to accommodate me. My response to this was; “really? then the 20 other people coming with me would go somewhere else”. Which is what we did. I was rather shocked as what sort of restaurant allows 20 people to walk away; they must have had money growing on trees.
One other time I can remember we were going to a French restaurant, can you believe that? It was picked by our family, so we said OK, but not a good choice for a whole-food, plant-based and oil free eating regime. Anyway, I rang ahead, explained what I wanted, any form of lentil dish, and they said, no worries.
So we got there, everyone ordered, I said that my husband and I were the ‘special’ preordered meals, and the waitress already knew about it, so all good. However, when the meals came, ours didn’t. Upon enquiry, we discovered that another couple had arrived, requested a special diet meal, and they were given our meals. They hadn’t rung ahead, but made a fuss re their dietary requirements, so were given ours. We ended up with a plate of steamed vegetables.
Honestly, it was OK but a little upsetting. But it happens. So ring ahead – I always say our dietary requirements are due to health issues.
Tip no 3.
Eat before you go.
Depending upon the reaction from the restaurant or the friends, we will eat before we go out. And then just order a salad.
If I find myself going to a colleagues or not close friends place for dinner, and I don’t feel like making that phone call, then I eat before I go, and then I often just push the food around on the plate, eating very little of it.
Usually there is some sort of vegetable accompanying the meal, so I load up on those and leave the meat and sauces.
It can be challenging, no doubt about it, but if you have made the commitment to yourself to honour your healing journey, then nothing will get in the way.
Personal growth, authenticity, integrity are some of my key values, so if I am to honour myself, then sticking to my eating regime is not negotiable.
For me, and I hope for you, my health is a top priority. I know that eating one deep fried calamari ring will not kill me today, but the burden it will put on my body, the accumulative effect of one today, one tomorrow, one the day after, just might.
Strive for excellence in all that you are and do, and enjoy the ‘festive’ season with all your parties because of the people not because of the food, it is surprising how good you will feel about yourself if you do.