How to Eat Healthy at a Party Without Offending Your Host
There are many opportunities throughout the year for parties and get-togethers with family and friends. Hanging out with those you love to celebrate a special occasion or just being together because you enjoy their company is one of the best parts of life. But what happens when you start a new diet and all the food at these get togethers is on your list of foods to avoid? How can you eat healthy at a party without being rude or annoying to those who don’t share your convictions about eating healthy?
We’re Surrounded By Unhealthy Food! What’s a Real Foodie To Do?
When my family first realized the incredible benefits of a real food diet and made the commitment to eat healthy, 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 the processed, packaged foods that most Americans think are healthy. Factory farmed meats, vegetable oils, and processed grain products are all part of a good old Southern get-together. You can’t have a proper BBQ without soft, white burger and hotdog buns, soda, sweet tea, and lots of desserts.
Your family and friends spent a lot of time and effort to prepare the food with love. No one wants to come into that situation as the family with the special diet.
I didn’t want to be rude and, more than anything, I didn’t want my boys developing a complex about eating at parties. (After all, I’m the real food mom who lets her kids eat junk food. But that’s an article for another day.)
Rule #1 – Keep Your Food Preferences to Yourself
I know how important it is to eat a real food diet. I understand how important it is for people to learn what’s real food and what’s not. However, I think it’s equally important to preserve relationships and not become a food snob.
Because of our desire to preserve relationships we didn’t (and still don’t) talk too much about our diet choices with our family and friends. That’s partly because the amount of research and thought involved in our decision to eat real food can’t be easily shared in a casual conversation. (Read my tips for how to teach others about real food.)
It’s partly because we want to blend in and not have friends and family think we’re “just on a diet” and aren’t serious about our real food convictions.
At the same time we don’t want to compromise our health for the sake of fitting in. So, here’s what we decided to do.
My Four Best Tips for Eating Healthy at a Party – Without Being a Food Snob
Remember the 80/20 Rule
Seriously, having a handful of chips at a party isn’t a detriment to your health if you are eating well 80 percent of the time.
If you are like most real foodies, you don’t keep processed, 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.
I know this may be asking a lot if you’re a strict real foodie. We were in the beginning, as well. We had to find our groove and we needed to break bad habits, so a strict diet was a necessity for our family.
Fortunately, we eventually settled into a 80/20 diet that lets us enjoy fun food sometimes.
If you’re not there yet, read on to the next tips.
Seek Out Real Foods at a Party
Think about it – Most parties have a fruit or veggie tray. So maybe it’s not organic. Maybe you won’t fall over dead this once.
If there’s fruit, there’s likely cheese. Just because it’s not raw, artisan, blah, blah, blah doesn’t mean it’s not perfectly acceptable for you to eat it if it means keeping your relationships intact and staying clear of food snobbery.
Don’t focus on all of the food at the party you would never let pass your lips. Instead, find something – even if it’s just one thing – that you can enjoy without guilt.
Bring Your Own Food
Now, I don’t mean you should show up with a container of something just for yourself while looking down your nose at the spread the host has provided.
No, bringing your own food means you offer to bring a dish. Share your favorite real food snack or dish with others and you may spark an interest in real food!
Eat Before You Go
Refusing food 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.
Please Don’t Be a Food Snob and Don’t Be Scared of Food
More than anything I want to stress the importance of not being a food snob and not being afraid to eat. Orthorexia is a real condition that’s easy to slip into.
Actually, you can be a food snob – in your own home and in any situation where you won’t 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 don’t 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’re a real foodie, you’re 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: 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 and spend time with those you love? Sharing food is a lovely way to relax with your loved ones.
Before you go!
This is how I get a real food dinner on the table on even the busiest evenings. It’s all about planning, baby. Check it out!