Day 6 - Restaurants and Social Gatherings
OK – you’re fully committed to the Paleo / Primal / Keto lifestyle and it’s going great. You feel better than you’ve felt in years and your pants are fitting a little looser! Congratulations!
Does that mean that you can never go out to restaurants or over to friends’ or family’s places to eat again?
Relax – you don’t have to become a recluse or a social pariah. You can still enjoy a night out with friends or family.
There are a few ways you can go about it.
Some of them work pretty well. Some of them I wouldn’t recommend.
If you wear a size 10 shoe and your feet feel great in a size 10 shoe would you let someone talk you into trying to stuff your foot into a size 4 just because they’re convinced that they’ll look great on you and you’ll love them?
Why is food any different? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting that you have to be a jerk or defensive about it or cop the “I’ve got it figured out and you’re clueless” attitude on everyone.
I’m suggesting that you know what works for you and with a little planning and a little grace you can successfully navigate a wide variety of situations.
First, let’s talk about degrees.
If you have an allergy to peanuts or shellfish you know that it’s not OK for you just to go with the flow because you don’t want to inconvenience someone.
Eating something that has been cross-contaminated can mean a trip to the hospital or worse.
If I eat a piece of whole wheat pizza I may be a little gassy or bloated, but it’s not going to be the end of the world or the end of Jim.
If you’re battling an autoimmune disease or some serious food allergies you’re going to need to exercise a higher level of vigilance and be a little more assertive than someone that’s just trying to clean up how they’re eating and following an 80/20 approach to compliance.
If you know which restaurant you’re headed to, check out their menu ahead of time.
I just looked up the menu of a pizza joint that I loved in college. Deep dish whole wheat veggie was my favorite. They don’t have a gluten free crust – or if they do it’s not on their menu.
But they do have a large salad with grilled chicken. So that approach would be easy.
If you want to dial the enjoyment factor up a few clicks ask them if you can customize the salad since you know that they have lots of meat and veggie options for the pizzas.
Be willing to pay a little extra and don’t freak out if they tell you they don’t have that option, but it never hurts to ask.
Get vinegar and olive oil for your dressing on the side and you’re good to go.
Restaurants are increasingly used to accommodating food allergies and specialized dietary request. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help in getting something that works for you and most places should be able to accommodate your needs. Pretty easy. Tip well.
And on the off chance that someone can’t or won’t work with you, you can probably find a salad that works and you can make sure that you scratch those folks off of your restaurant options for the future.
Social and family gatherings
Relax. It’s going to be OK.
I understand that family gathering can come packed with their own drama separate and apart from special dietary requests but remember that you’re strong and you’ve got this.
I don’t want to minimize this because I understand that navigating this can be a big deal for folks.
I’ve started and deleted this paragraph about 15 times already but let’s see if I can make it all the way through.
Food has strong emotional and psychological connections.
Have you ever caught a whiff of something and all of a sudden, you’re mentally transported to a certain place or a certain event that might have happened years and years ago?
It’s like an olfactory hyperlink.
So, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that people can get really attached to their food.
I don’t need to tell you this because you’ve already gone through your own food wrangling just to get where you are today. I’m talking about the emotion that other people have when it comes to how you’re eating. Sounds weird, huh?
The easiest way to handle your new way of eating is just to do it.
But it’s inevitable that people are going to notice that you’re not going into a feeding frenzy over your aunt’s lasagna like you used to.
Now comes the fun part.
You can just say that you finally figured out how to keep your gut from going nuts and you’ve started eating differently and it’s really helping.
It keeps it about you and you’re not telling everyone else that they’re eating a subpar diet. For most folks that’s all it takes.
If you’re someone that doesn’t want to make a fuss, this may be the universe giving you a gentle nudge towards taking care of yourself.
If you’ve noticed that eating this way has changed how you feel, let’s figure out how to support that. Because sooner or later you’re going to have to fade the teasers. You know the ones that I’m talking about; those folks that can’t help themselves. They just have to bust your chops because it’s part of their DNA.
Let ‘em bust away. You can stick with the “I just feel better when I eat this way,” which is definitely the best way to go.
But if your tormenter won’t relent, you can always drop the poo card on them. Nothing will shut a conversation down faster than talking about poop.
Just let them know that yes the lasagna taste great when you eat it, but then you’ll have diarrhea most of the afternoon and you figure you’ll pass on that. That should wrap it up.
Here’s the tougher one.
You fly home to your parents and your mom doesn’t know anything about your new way of eating and she’s pulled out all of the stops.
She’s fixed all of what used to be your favorite foods, and to make it even better, she stayed up all night pulling the meal together. Ouch. That’s a little tougher to navigate.
Here are some suggestions. If you’re going to an event—whether it’s a neighborhood party or a family gathering—volunteer to bring food that you know you can eat.
An old standby for me is asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto and roasted for a few minutes and if you want to get really fancy you can grate some parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese on them.
Everybody loves them and it’s something that I know my wife and I can eat.
And with most parties, you just have to pay attention but there’s usually some Paleo / Primal / Keto friendly food that you can eat.
I also always have some Bulletproof Collagen bars stashed in my car or backpack.
Now back to avoiding hurting your mom’s feelings.
Ahead of time.
Most people embrace an ancestral way of eating because of some type of health issue.
Whether you embrace your new way of eating to lose weight, make friends with your digestive system or to calm down an autoimmune condition let your family know that it’s something you needed to do for your health.
And be patient.
They may not get it at first. But that’s OK. You got this.
If you’ve tried any other “tactics” that have worked for you when it comes to restaurants and social gatherings, please share them. I’d love the hear them.
Today’s assignment is real food, sleep quality and mix up the pace on your walk. Push it to where it burns a little and then back off to a normal pace. Cycle through that a couple of minutes of burn, a couple of minutes of normal pace. Rinse and Repeat.