You’ve decided to start a new diet. Yes, diet is a four-letter word, so if it makes you feel better, call it a lifestyle. You’ve started a new lifestyle, and you’re gung-ho, excited, and all-in. And then you get invited to an event…with food. How in the world are your supposed to stick to your special diet while eating at a dinner party?
Well, you have a few options here. Some of these are harsh but practical, and some are going to mean that you have to work really hard. In no particular order, here we go.
Note: These options apply to those who are choosing a special diet, not those with food allergies. Food allergies should be discussed far in advance with the host.
Skip the Dinner Party
This is the harshest one for sure. But, if you are serious about your diet and you do not, under any circumstances, want to waver on it, you should refuse — politely, of course. You could take the time to explain to the host that you have recently adjusted your diet and are unable to attend any food-centric events. But remember, you do not have to justify your actions to anyone! You can just politely refuse.
If you really want to attend the event, but don’t want to compromise on your eating habits, you could eat before you attend. Notice the suggestion is to eat before, not after. If you go hungry too long, you will undoubtedly struggle with the willpower to not “just snack on this one thing.”
Depending on your relationship with the host, you may mention your dietary restrictions and offer to bring something to compliment and that is compliant with your diet. You will certainly have to answer a million questions about why you aren’t eating or what you are eating, so be prepared for this, but don’t let it overtake the dinner party.
Take the Dinner Party “Off”
First of all, you should not ever cheat on a diet. This is a recipe for disaster, pun intended. If you make the conscious decision to follow a special diet, you can also decide to take a break from it. Sometimes that means taking a meal off — a meal, not a day, not a week, not stop entirely.
Some dinner parties or special events are worth taking the meal off. Allow yourself the freedom and responsibility of making such a choice. Decide in advance what you will be eating and what you will not. Making this compromise will not destroy the progress you have made, and deciding with intention will help you later in life. Perhaps you allow yourself to have the bacon macaroni and cheese, but you still skip the dessert.
Eat What You Can
Most special diets revolve around whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, protein, and maybe some whole grains. Some are high in fat, some eliminate dairy, and most limit added sugars. Which means at a dinner party, you may be worrying about nothing. If the menu includes grilled chicken, vegetables, and pasta or a potato, you could eat all but the pasta. Of course, if the menu consists of pizza and a salad, you’ll be heaping that salad on your plate.
Guests often huddle around the veggie plate at a social event, avoiding the cheese dip and sandwiches, without being given a second thought. Or, someone has refused a piece of cake, and it doesn’t phase anyone around them. Your food choices are yours alone, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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