9 Fail-proof Tips for Eating Healthy at Social Gatherings

I have to admit that while I eat pretty healthy at home, my weakness is at social gatherings: family parties, weddings, gatherings with friends, barbecues, eating out at restaurants.

I’ve tried different strategies, with mixed success. So before I went out last night (for the FIFTH time in six nights!), I asked my friends on Twitter (follow me here) for some of their best tips on eating healthy at social gatherings.

They responded with some great, common-sense tips. While many of these are tips I’ve tried before, it’s good to be reminded of them. And a couple I haven’t tried yet, so I now have a good arsenal of strategies at my disposal.

I thought you might find these tips useful. All credit goes to Zen Habits readers on Twitter — thanks guys!

Please note that some of these tips might be a bit contradictory. You should pick the tips that work best for you, and not look at this as a step-by-step guide to be adopted wholesale.

  1. Eat before you go. This was by far the most popular tip, and probably the most useful. Fill up on healthy foods at home.
  2. Place limits. Try a 2 plate limit, and a 2 drink limit.
  3. Plan ahead. Find out the menu ahead of time and make healthy choices, before you go.
  4. Drink lots of water and eat fruits and veggies. You can eat as many veggies as you want without consuming many calories. Just avoid dipping sauces and dressings.
  5. Have a big salad before the main course. Again, avoid too much dressing, and go for the lighter dressings.
  6. Log what you eat, so you’ll be more aware of it.
  7. Avoid alcohol. It’s just empty calories. You can have fun without alcohol — I do it all the time.
  8. Bring your own. If it’s a potluck-style gathering, cook something healthy and bring it with you.
  9. Just try to eat healthy most of the week, and relax when you are at social gatherings. This is one of my favorite tips. :) You don’t need to eat healthy all the time. This is the tip I usually follow, but you’ve got to come up with other strategies when you’re going to social gatherings almost every night of the week (I couldn’t help it this past week, but it’s not my usual schedule).

What are your strategies for eating healthy (or not) when you’re out at social gatherings? Share in the comments!