It's a topic that many of us don't want to talk about. We dread our company lunches, meetings with clients and bosses, or even our family gatherings because we just haven't mastered the art of not offending anyone with our food choices. Am I right? Just how do you maintain your clean eating lifestyle when you may not be able to choose your food? I used to feel like this often. However, we don't have to! Here are a few tips and scenarios to help you out. Keep in mind that moderation is important, you should not shy away from your friends and family just because you are eating clean. It is okay to indulge every once in a while without feeling guilty about it - these tips will help you avoid a binge!
Rule #1 (in ALL circumstances) - ALWAYS keep a snack of about 100-150 calories with you; a Quest Bar or a pack of raw almonds are great examples! Eat this about 30 minutes to 1 hour before your function. This will control your appetite and leave you less likely to pig out on things you know you shouldn't have like macaroni and cheese, tortilla chips with cheese and even birthday cake.
If you are in a breakfast meeting or a lunch meeting with a client, you can always sneak away to the bathroom at some point within the meeting and scarf down your 100 calorie snack as well! Make sure that your snack can easily fit in your pocket and will not spoil (a string cheese or a refrigerated snack would). Not sure that you can resist the bagels and muffins available at the breakfast meeting? Make some of the protein bars into muffins and share! Good choices are the Lemon Protein Bars (add poppy seeds and pass them off as poppy seed muffins) and the Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread.
Birthday parties and weddings are the worst for me! Let's face it - I love cake, especially vanilla wedding cake! (Bummer for me that my sister-in-law owns an amazing bakery in D.C. and I can't eat her cupcakes or wedding cakes!) If it's a company shindig (especially those that happen every month) or a birthday party of a friend or family member you know, bring something to share! Suggesting that they try something new will be all you need to introduce them to the Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies, the Chocolate Almond Biscotti or even the Chocolate Protein Bars that taste just like brownies! Weddings... I'm not sure what you should do - it will be a test of willpower and be glad you ate that 100-150 calorie snack before hand!
If you are going to a family gathering or over to a party at a friends house, it's always a good idea to bring one dish that complements what they may be preparing but qualifies as a clean dish for you. Try something that has a mix of protein and carbohydrate in case this ends up being the main thing on your plate, like a quinoa, a bean salad, or a veggie tray with homemade hummus dip. Proper etiquette says you should ask before bringing the dish, but if it's someone that is likely to tell you know, I would bring it without asking!
If you are attending a potluck family, church or work-related function, this one is easy! Who said you can't make more than one dish to share? Nobody! Make a protein-laden dish (like the Turkey Meatloaf Muffins, Turkey Monster Meatloaf or the Stuffed Bell Peppers) and a good-for-you carb dish (like the Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower Mashed "Potatoes" or the Sweet Potato Tots). This will ensure you at least have something to eat! Just ensure you are close to the front of the line so you can be sure to get some of your clean goodness!
Please Note: I am not telling you to be rude to your host or hostess by not having any of their food. That would deeply hurt their feelings, BUT by eating the snack before hand any making wise choices once you are there, you will greatly decrease your risk of throwing off your new lifestyle and not reaching your goals! If you are struggling with family members that don't understand, take a look at our Toxic Friends and Family post!