Have you been thinking about taking on a healthier lifestyle, but worried about what it will do to your social life?
I hear this often from clients, especially as they’re beginning their journey to better health. They see a little (or big) lapse in their social life! Friends, family, and coworkers don’t seem to understand what the heck you can actually eat. They make assumptions that you can’t do something because you now don’t eat just like them. On your side of things, you’re still trying to get your feet wet with these new habits and you might not feel very confident that you won’t backslide into old, unhealthy habits when the temptations are right in front of you.
I felt the same way in the early days of adopting healthier options to help heal my Rheumatoid Arthritis. I turned myself into a bit of a hermit. My social outings had typically revolved around food and beer. Whether I was out with friends, or it was happy hour with my coworkers, I didn’t have a good feel for how my new lifestyle could mesh with the old. My answer at the time was just to avoid those situations.
While I was avoiding the temptations I thought I would feel in those situations, I was missing the basic human need for connection.
Listen, I can introvert as hard as the next person, but I DO still need friends in my life, and you likely do, too.
It took me awhile to figure this out for myself, but I’m so glad I did!
Here are my top 6 ways you can keep healthy eating from killing your social life.
1. Be a Leader
Take a bigger role in planning your social gatherings with friends. If you’ve typically been the type to just go with the flow and not have any strong opinions about dining locations or what you’re doing with your group of friends, now is the time to get an opinion. Learn which restaurants have foods you can enjoy without sacrificing your health. (More on this soon!) Propose different ideas other than eating. Be proactive in the planning instead of waiting for someone else to come up with something that may or may not work for you.
2. Do Something Other than Going Out to Eat
If you’re like me and most of your social gatherings revolved around food, how about find other activities where food or alcohol are not the center of attention? Go for a walk or hike, travel, play games, go out for coffee or tea… There are lots of different things you can do, that don’t require you to eat unhealthy food!
3. Hang Out with the Right People for You
OK, this might be tough, depending on your current social circles. If the people you hang out with don’t “get it” or at least attempt to “get it” they may not be the right people for you. Our friends should be the folks we can confide in and look to for support. If you’re not feeling that from the people you currently hang out with, it may be time to look elsewhere for building up a supportive friend group. Check out online resources like meetup.com to find people that have similar hobbies and interest that you do. Facebook groups can also be helpful for building up a new circle of friends that again have similar interest, and perhaps even have similar health issues.
When I entered into the world of nutrition nerds with the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program, I felt like I had found the people that really got me. There was never any question or judgement about how I ate, or how I needed to take care of myself. I have built strong, long-lasting friendships with my fellow nutrition friends that I’m so grateful for. This isn’t to say that I ditched all my old, long-time friends! They’re still here, being as awesome as they always have been.
The people that we keep in our lives, should be those that support us. I know that family can be hard, and they won’t always understand. It’s ok. You don’t have to force it. For those that want to understand what you’re going through, or why you’re doing what you’re doing, you have a wonderful opportunity to educate. Oftentimes, people do want to understand. Give them a chance and see what happens! You may find that people are excited to start supporting you in new ways! Have a friend that loves to bake for others, but you avoid gluten? You may find that they’re excited to try something new with gluten-free or grain-free baking! Let people in when they want to help you or support you in the way they know how. It’s just as much a gift to them, as it is to you.
5. Host a Dinner Party
Dinner party, brunch, BBQ… whatever you like! Cook healthy food for your friends to show them that it’s not so “crazy” what you’re doing with this new way of eating! If you want to have friends bring a dish to share, you can ask them to avoid certain ingredients if you choose. Since you’re the host, you have a better idea of what food options their are and what you’ll be able to enjoy food-wise with your friends. I found that changing to a healthy real-food lifestyle reignited my love of cooking and caring for others. That actually is why this little website was birthed in the first place!
6. You don’t owe anyone an explanation
That’s right. It’s nobody’s business why you eat the way you do. Feel free to share if it feels appropriate and comfortable to you, but understand that not everyone is going to get it. If someone calls you crazy for trying to eat better food and take care of yourself, that’s not a reflection of you. It speaks volumes about them though! They’re just projecting their insecurities about what they eat on to you. You do you!
Do you have your social life and healthy eating habits down? What tips can you share with everyone? Share below in the comments!
Are you ready to start up a real-food lifestyle for your health? Schedule your free Health Strategy Session with me to discover a path that works best for you!