— By Nutritionista
This is going to be a tough post for me to write because I’m not entirely sure I have it totally figured out yet. The issue? Having a significant other, close friend, or family member who just doesn’t eat the way you do, doesn’t see the point of it, and isn’t particularly supportive.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have a family that supports my healthy eating habits 100%. From the time I was a kid, the “worst” food my parents ever kept in the house was tortilla chips. They always had sparkling water instead of pop, fruit leather instead of fruit roll-ups, and Shredded Wheat instead of Lucky Charms. Sure, we’ve all gotten wise to healthier habits as we learn more about nutrition (white pasta was a huge staple in my house growing up), but for the most part, my family has always been fairly health-focused. As I’m sure some of you have seen, my dad is always up to cook new, exciting, delicious (yet still healthy) foods. The rest of us are only too happy to partake.
But I do have a few friends and a boyfriend who just don’t buy what I’m selling in terms of healthy eating. I have friends who can eat whatever they want and feel fine. They even look great. It becomes hard to stick to my principles when I’m around them. My boyfriend is gradually getting better, but his idea of healthy food is a McDonald’s salad (not the worst thing you could eat, but still.). He won’t try tofu or whole wheat pasta, and he’s fine going several days without getting any veggies besides some lettuce on his sandwich. When I’m with him, I go out to eat more and eat more of what he eats, which ends up being food I would never normally seek out.
So here’s what I’ve come up so far with to deal with people who don’t see food quite like you do:
(Bring Your Own Snacks.) I really can’t stress this enough! I always regret not bringing my own snacks when I’m heading to my boyfriend’s for the weekend. I end up eating whatever he has around, which is usually Doritos or high fructose-laden granola bars.
- Plan to cook together.
Make it an activity you can do together. If you’re cooking a meal, it usually means you’ll have a little more control over what goes in the pot (or pan, or oven, etc.). It’s incredibly hard to cook something on your own that approaches the un-health of most fast food or “casual” chain restaurant food. Try deep frying something in your own kitchen… it’s not that easy!
- Do your homework.
If you know you’ll be going out to eat, do some research about viable restaurant options and what everyone involved could potentially eat and enjoy. Good picks for both the health-conscious and not-so-health-aware: sushi, Middle Eastern (my boyfriend and I eat Middle Eastern all the time… luckily, we both love Greek salad!), and soup & sandwich places.
- Keep staples everywhere.
Whether it’s your parents whom you visit regularly, a friend whose house crash at often, or a significant other you spend a lot of time with, if they’re cool with it, you can keep some healthy basics in their kitchens. I keep cereal I like at my boyfriend’s so I know I’ll at least have a healthy breakfast.
- Don’t ever feel bad for being picky!
You deserve to eat exactly what you want, enjoy, and feel comfortable with. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it. In the same vein, don’t ever make anyone else feel bad for eating the way they do. I know that as a health-conscious person, I’m often tempted to make comments about what my loved ones are consuming, but I try to keep my mouth shut as much as is humanely possible. Trust me, nagging them won’t change their behavior one iota.
- Learn how to say no, and mean it.
When someone asks you if you want to share those greasy mozzarella sticks as an appetizer, you have every right to politely decline and MEAN IT. I’m much too easily persuaded into eating what everyone else is eating, to my own detriment. I end up being unhappy, often paying more than I intended if we’re out to eat, and feeling uncomfortable. It might take some practice to turn people down, but it’s an excellent life skill to have. I’ll fully disclose that I need to work on this one. This is typical… boyfriend: “Do you want ice cream?” me: “…No?…” boyfriend: “We’re getting ice cream.”
- Indulge WHEN you choose to and with WHAT you choose to.
As you hopefully know by now, I do indulge (and often!). My indulgences, however, might not look like yours. Or my sister’s. Or my boyfriend’s. And that’s okay! I encourage indulgence, but I don’t encourage indulgence due to peer pressure. If you’re going out with friends, it can help to plan your indulgence ahead of time so you don’t go overboard. Inevitably, being around people who are having cocktails or eating dessert will make you want those things, too. If you’ve already planned for it, it can easily fit into a healthy lifestyle.
- Feel good about your choices.
Whatever choice you end up making while hanging out with other kinds of eaters, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty. Like my girl Jillian Michaels says, one piece of cake is not going to break you or make you fat. Even 5 cookies in one sitting won’t do that if you ultimately live a healthy lifestyle. Punishing yourself by being overly restrictive later on is just going to be a bigger setback in the long run.
Note: I wrote another post awhile back about not gaining love lbs. while in a new relationship, which you can read here.