So far we've talked about how to eat real food away from home on road trips and on vacation. This time we're sticking a little closer to home and will tackle the complication of eating real food while visiting with friends and family for parties or get-togethers.
Real Food Parties
When my husband and I realized the incredible benefits of a real food diet and made the commitment to eat a real food diet, one of the first things we discussed was how to handle get-togethers with family and friends. It was difficult to find a place in our diet for processed, packaged foods and items that most American think are healthy such as meats from the grocery store, vegetable oils and improperly prepared grain products. Still, the last thing we wanted to do was be "the family with the special diet".
In fact, we didn't (and still don't) want to share much about our diet with our family and friends because the amount of information-gathering involved in our decision to eat real food could not be easily shared in a casual conversation. More than anything we wanted to blend in and not have friends and family think we were "just on a diet", but at the same time we didn't want to compromise our health for the sake of fitting in.
Here are four tips for eating real food at parties or get-togethers.
1. Remember the 80/20 rule. Having a handful of chips at a party is not going to be a detriment to your health if you are eating well 80 per cent of the time. If you are like most real foodies, you don't keep factory-food in your home. You eat the right fats and sweeteners and have vetted your sources of meat and other animal products. Unless you have allergies or know that a certain food will make you feel sick if you eat it, then have a piece of cake or a slice of restaurant-chain pizza at a party or get-together.
2. Overlook the processed food and seek the real foods. Most parties have a fruit tray. So maybe it's not organic. Maybe you won't fall over dead this once. If there is fruit, there is likely cheese. Don't focus on all of the food you would never let pass your lips. Instead, find something--even if it's just one thing--that you can enjoy without guilt or a negative effect on your health.
3. Bring your own food. Now, this doesn't mean that you show up with a container of something just for yourself while looking down your nose at the spread the host or hostess has provided. No, this means you offer to bring a dish. Share your favorite real food snack or dish with the others and you may spark an interest in real food!
4. Eat before you go. Not eating at a party doesn't exactly help you to blend in, but it is an option if you simply cannot stomach the idea of eating many of the Standard American Diet (SAD) foods that may be available.
More than anything I want to stress the importance of not being a food snob. Actually, be a food snob--in your own home and in any situation where you won't potentially hurt the feelings of people you care about. If people ask why you make the food choices you make, then tell them. If not, then keep it to yourself. Remember that many people simply do not have the information or the understanding of how to incorporate real foods into their diets. And even if they did, eating real food is a pretty big paradigm shift for most. It takes time to figure it all out. Don't forget that once you tell people you are a real foodie, you are under the microscope. Your every bite is up for scrutinization. If you ever decide to sneak in an Oreo, you lose your credibility even if you've eaten perfectly for a decade!
I hope I've driven home one important point in this series: Follow the 80/20 rule and enjoy life. I think most real foodies find ourselves eating an even higher percentage of real food than 80% once we learn the ropes and find more sources of real food. Relax and enjoy life. What's the point of eating such a healthy diet if you're not going to enjoy life?
This post was shared at The Healthy Home Economist's Monday Mania and Hartke is Online's Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival.
Flickr: Ella Novak