May it be summer barbecues, birthday parties, weddings or Christmas, we will always be put in testing situations based around food. It is something we are all faced with on our fitness journey and can be a struggle for many when trying to stick to a healthy food plan in order to achieve fat loss goals. In this article I will go over some key tips to help get the balance of both to ensure you can enjoy food without compromising your composition.
There can only be 3 approaches to these situations, which is key to know which you will be doing in each given scenario.
1- Completely indulge
2- All in moderation
3- Keeping it clean
Firstly, to break it down we have to reflect on…
Truly knowing your goal will dictate as to how often you can indulge and which option above you will chose in the social situation. If you are just training for a bit of health and fitness and you are not overly fussed at achieving a target clothes size or have any deadlines, then you know you can indulge in more socials compared to someone who is going on holiday in 4 weeks’ time.
If for example, you are going away in 4 weeks’ time and have 3 weekend social occasions lined up based around food and alcohol, then you know you won’t be completely indulging in all 3 of the occasions if you want to hit target to fit in that bikini you are working towards.
Know you goal, question what you are training for and what is the time frame of this goal. This will then lead you onto…
Goal dependent, at times you are going to have to make a compromise. Let’s go back to that holiday scenario. Ideally, you would attend all three occasions for the social aspect, but what about the food and drinking side? Well, we compromise so we don’t feel left out and don’t completely write off our training goals and current results. For example, look at indulging in the first occasion (furthest away to target holiday date), keep it clean on the second occasion and perhaps on the third, do it all in moderation, or depending how close to the holiday and how on track you are, keep it clean again.
Compromise is also entwined with…
You need to look at what social occasions you have lined up, and then plan which ones you will indulge in, keeping it clean and do in moderation. This includes planning which occasions you plan to drive to, to stop you drinking and ones you need to take food prep to, to stop you pigging out. Little things like finding out what the restaurant menu is so when you go for your ‘all in moderation’ social, you know what will fit with your food plan. For example, steak, side salad, sweet potato fries and what the heck, let’s go for x1 glass of wine or the slice of cheesecake dessert. Moderated meals like these won’t leave you feeling guilty, won’t compromise your composition and leave you feeling happy you are able to enjoy the food aspect of the social occasion.
Discipline is key on whichever route you choose, which is a lot easier once you have planned prepared because failing to plan is planning to fail. Once you have planned, prepared and decided how you will approach that social situation you just have to be disciplined through it which leads to…
In social situations, it is really important to have good relationship with food. It’s very easy to become anxious around the food, worrying what people think, stressed because the menu doesn’t have what suits your dietary needs.
For some, being put in these social situations can almost put the brain in to green light mode to completely let loose, and have a ‘all or nothing’ attitude with a simple nudge from your peers to get involved in the food. Training for a goal CAN be done alongside of enjoying life, it’s just down to a bit of thinking ahead, planning and knowing which you are doing which is down to the goal you are training for. Ask yourself:
All in moderation?
Keeping it clean?
Or completely indulging?
Ideally, if you can practice moderation and do everything in balance you won’t feel like you are losing out on all the fun foods as much but does require more discipline if done consistently and your goal is short term. Always saying no and ‘keeping it clean’ all the time can make people feel like they are left out which can lead to big blow outs, which is why practising in moderation and balance is better if it works with your training goals.
Know that in these times moderation times you have to be disciplined and remember your goal. Otherwise every Monday morning you will be restarting and setting the nutrition and training goals again.
When doing the ‘all in moderation’ sometimes you just have to get creative. Little things like using 97% pork sausages for the barbecue instead of eating hot dogs, make your own salsas and dips for the barbecues, use lettuce leaves for burger buns and dilute fruit juices down with water. Don’t neglect the salad selection as it will make it more of a meal, making you fuller which will less likely for you to keep binging out on the sugary foods.
Final food thought.
There will be times you just have to say no and have to accept that we can’t eat the mountains of food like we used at every given social event IF we are keen to make body composition changes and sustain them, that’s not to say we can’t enjoy food. Aim for balance if you can work it with your goals.
Do not forget also to times of great indulging because reward is important and it helps keeps you focused to keep on plan in between.