Are your social eating habits starting to weigh you down? Dietitian Meg shares her 4 great tips for having your cake (occasionally) and staying healthy too!
When I went from working full-time to being a full-time stay at home Mum, a new world of mid-week social events opened up to me.
It was just fabulous to be sharing my joys, concerns and sleepless night stories with other Mums. But I noticed we were also sharing a lot of cake, slice, chips and chocolate.
Food is a big part of socialising. Yet our social eating habits are usually something we don’t give a second thought to. We bond over who has the best apple cake recipe, share recipes and ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’ when one supermum brings the cake to playgroup still warm.
This is a good thing. I am certainly not proposing that we shouldn’t have morning tea rosters or ban unhealthy food at our gatherings, but, altogether, it is just too much.
Our ‘Sometimes’ foods are becoming everyday options.
Think about how many times a week you are in a situation outside of your home where there is yummy, often homemade, unhealthy food on offer. For me, it is at least 3. At 2 of theses, there are multiple unhealthy options on the table. Add to that a play date or two, a family function or extra weekend event and it is almost everyday.
It is too much. We need to be aware of it and have a plan for how we are going to manage it.
Here are 4 ideas that you might like to try to temper temptation when it comes to social eating habits
Look for healthy food substitution opportunities
At my playgroup, one of the other mothers suggested we make it an expectation of whoever was on the morning tea roster to bring a healthy option, such as some fruit or some dip and vegetable sticks, as well as the traditional cakey option.
This was great. Now if I am hungry at playgroup, I have a ‘non-cake’ option to go to.
Perhaps make this suggestion at your playgroup, I think you will be surprised at how well this idea is received!
Bring your own brown bag lunch and healthy snacks
Decide in advance whether you will be having the food on offer at one particular weekly event. If you have decided that you don’t want to eat the food on offer, make sure you have a healthy snack with you, or that you don’t arrive hungry.
Often we eat at events simply because the food is there.
You may have to deliberately position yourself out of sight of the food table to help yourself break the habit of eating at that event.
Be mindful of what you gravitate towards when in social situations to keep your social eating habits in check.
Make the social part of social eating habits more important
When making a playdate, don’t feel the need to include a special treat food. Consider gently discouraging it. A nice lunch with a friend is enjoyable enough. You wont enjoy seeing your friend less if there isn’t a brownie after lunch.
Since starting to do this, I have found that I actually enjoy the time more. No longer am I constantly telling my kids to ‘go play and stop asking for more brownie’.
All while at the same time worrying that stopping them from having the brownie is making them want the brownie more!
Leave the food out of it
Make a catch up an active catch up where food doesn’t feature. That way, you won’t have to consider your social eating habits each and every time you catch up!
Perhaps a walk with friends or a morning at the park. I have a friend who meets at an oval with a couple of friends and they look after each others’ children for half an hour so they each get some time to go for a run on their own.
This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are a mum who loves to run, then a run, in the daytime, on your own is just so good for the soul!
If you have more ideas on changing your social eating habits or diet in general, please share what has worked for you at our online community. We’d love to hear them.
Meg McClintock is not only the Founder and Principle Dietition of Australian practice Choose Nutrition, she is also the Consultant Dietition for Body Beyond Birth. Find out more about Meg and her nutritional advice within the Body Beyond Birth program on our website and be sure to read more of Meg’s articles on the Choose Nutrition blog and Facebook Page.