Q&A: HOW TO HAVE NUTRITION GOALS AND A SOCIAL LIFE
Over the past week we have had some great questions come in about how to approach social situations when you have nutrition goals, so today we’re answering the big question:
CAN I HAVE NUTRITION GOALS AND A SOCIAL LIFE?
The answer to this question is a very big YES! Whether you are tracking your macros, counting calories, or just trying to be more conscious of your food choices, allowing yourself to be flexible and still enjoy your life is essential to sticking to your goals. If your diet is so restrictive that you can’t go out and enjoy time with friends and family, chances are you won’t be able to stick to it very long.
However, you can’t expect to see rapid progress if you are eating out with friends every night or going for dinner and drinks every weekend. So while you should be able to enjoy time out with family and friends, there may be some sacrifices required if you want to make your goals a priority. Having nutrition goals and a social life is all about balance: you can absolutely go out to dinner with friends, you may just need to order the chicken instead of the steak; you can go out for drinks with coworkers, just skip the bar food and only have a drink or two; and you can still enjoy dinner parties, just focus on socializing over what you’re eating!
For the purpose of today’s post, we will be answering your questions in terms of approaching social situations while tracking macros, but keep in mind the same principles apply no matter what nutrition approach you take!
How can you explain tracking macros kindly in a group setting without coming across as snotty?
If you struggle to explain the concept of tracking your macros, try to shift the conversation towards your goals rather than towards what you do and do not eat. Explain that you track your macros to ensure that you are eating the right amount of the right foods to meet your specific goals, and that tracking your food has helped you be more aware of what you’re eating. Emphasizing your personal goals will (hopefully) help friends and family be supportive rather than offended by your food choices.
How can I best handle my macros when I go out with a group and they insist on splitting plates?
Speak up! Make sure that one or two of the dishes you are ordering are foods that will work for you. Try to choose dishes centered around lean proteins and vegetables and focus on filling most of your plate with those foods before having a helping of the less ‘macro-friendly’ dishes.
How do you handle drinking at a bar with coworkers or friends when the expectation is that people will imbibe for a few hours together?
Set some rules for yourself before you go. Decide how many drinks you will have and stick to your rule! Choose the most macro-friendly drinks (lighter beers, hard seltzers, drinks with zero-calorie mixers) and space out your drinks appropriately. A good tip for sticking to your limit is to space out your alcoholic drinks throughout the night. Make sure you're drinking water or another zero-calorie non-alcoholic drink most of the evening while sprinkling in your alcoholic drinks every now and then. That way you still have a drink in your hand and something to sip on throughout the night
What’s better? Dessert or a drink?
Neither! In terms of tracking macros, choose whatever you can make work for you. Different desserts and drinks can range drastically in calories, so the “better” choice for you may be whatever is lower in total calories. A drink could be better if you can be satisfied with just one. Sometimes having one dessert can be a trigger that makes us want to eat all the desserts. You know yourself best so go with whatever will be best for you!
If you’re at a party with food, which foods are definitely off limits? I can’t ever tell which are the worst when they all look bad…
Nothing should ever be off limits, but there are certainly foods that are easier and harder to track. If you can identify the different components of a dish (i.e. pasta salad with pasta, veggies, and Italian dressing versus a casserole with a lot of different ingredients) it will be easier to track accurately. If you’re not tracking, those simple dishes also often have fewer hidden calories from sneaky added ingredients. If the party is potluck-style, try to bring a dish (or two) that you know will work for you so that you have an easy go-to dish if all of the other options are questionable.
What do I do if I am invited to someone’s house when on a restricted diet i.e. anti-Candida?
If you are on a restricted diet, it is probably for health reasons. In that case, your health is definitely a priority and you should let your hosts know. That doesn’t mean they need to cater to all of your needs, but you can let them know that you may have to bring some of your own food in order to meet your needs.
I have a hard time going out to eat and not going all out. I find myself focusing on what I am NOT eating. I honestly just prefer not to go out unless I can eat and drink what I want. What kinds of things do you suggest for adjusting this mindset? If I go out to eat, and I stay in my plan, I leave angry.
Adjusting the “all or nothing” mentality can be really really tough. Rather than having the mindset of needing to be 100% on track or throwing progress out the window, try and budget for just one treat or drink when you go out. Plan ahead for this treat or drink and adjust the rest of your day accordingly to make it happen. If you go over a little bit, don’t stress about it and just get back to it the next day!
There is a BIG difference between going over your macros by a little versus saying “screw it” and eating everything in sight. Fat loss is all about creating a calorie deficit. Keeping that principle in mind, splurging on a extra drink or appetizer and going over your macro targets by 200-300 calories is far from the end of the world, but going over by 1000-2000 calories (which is very easy to do when eating out!) can take a whole week to get back into a deficit!
I am a social eater and my kids are becoming one too. How do I stop from eating everything in sight when in a social situation?
You can set rules for yourself and limit yourself to a certain number of treats, plates, or trips back to the food table. Try to go out to a social event on a half-full stomach, rather than starving to death so that you can be mindful about your intake. Your kids learn by watching you, so be an example of mindful eating by taking time between snacks and recognizing (and verbalizing) when you are full!
How do I eat at a family dinner without offending anyone?
It’s easy for people to start to feel defensive of their own food choices when they see you being conscious of your own. If someone is offended by your own food choices, just kindly remind them that you are eating the way you are in order to work towards your own personal goals. If your family is supportive of your lifestyle change and the commitment you have to these changes, maybe bring your scale along and weigh portions away from the table before you eat. If you are not comfortable with that, no biggie! You can ask what’s for dinner ahead of time and try to estimate and plan your day accordingly. Most of all, try to make the meal more about spending time with family than about the food.
How do I order Mexican food?
Look for dishes centered around lean protein and vegetables. Fajitas or tacos are always a great option! Restaurants often cook with liberal amounts of oil, so skip the sour cream and guac in order to keep fat intake moderate. If you want more in depth info on how to approach eating out when tracking your macros, be sure to join our email list and get the Macro Friendly Guide to Eating Out!
Thank you to all who submitted questions for this post! Do you have a question about how to balance your goals with your social life? Drop it in the comments below!