We just got back from a cabin-camping trip with our group of friends and have been discussing what happened with respect to our staying (or in this case, not staying) on the program. As I was thinking about writing this, a co-worker and I had a talk about her recent summer trips and socializing this summer that have also thrown her off-track with respect to eating well.
It’s much easier to take good care of ourselves when in a routine where things are under our control. It’s when our lives become more chaotic, spontaneous and our routines are disturbed that unintentional poor habits slip in. That’s not to say that good practices can’t be maintained while in these situations. The variable here, however, is to what degree.
We’re social creatures. As humans, food is built into the social fabric of our lives. In many cases, it’s a central feature. One of the beefs I have with so many “healthy” regimes is that they end up forcing people to become anti-social. All the separations caused by not being able to share food simply don’t seem worth it to me.
I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for 20 years and always made sure that it didn’t interfere with my social life. There was always something for me to eat, even if it was coleslaw and chips while my partner dragged me out for fish and chips! Now this didn’t happen often, and I use that as an extreme example. Usually, there was always something for me to eat at any restaurant, and friends were fabulous about including vegetarian options at potlucks and social gatherings. I also never made a big deal about it.
In some ways, turning towards whole foods is similar. There isn’t the moral issue, so it doesn’t need to be as black and white, and is therefore easier. There may not always be whole foods options, so in these cases, you do the best you can. The things you do have control over are portions and alternate choices. Again, depending on the group, this may also be challenging. Sometimes you may find yourself at someone’s home where they have dished out dinner on your plate and it just seems impolite to not finish it all. Maybe you’re out with others for a five-course meal. Or perhaps everyone has decided on a fish and chips place but you’d really rather go for healthful sushi. In any case, it’s a place we all find ourselves in from time to time.
Do we just throw in the towel and eat in our old patterns? Well, that’s one option. Leaving yourself space for this is fine, especially if you know that you’ll be getting back on track when you get home, or later that week, etc. This, however, is not an ideal option. It’s an easy way to stay stuck in old patterns and not achieve the results you’d like.
This is an area that we both are still working on. At times so far, we’ve been able to make much healthier choices, but often we’ve found ourselves falling into these old habits. It feels great when we get home and back on track, but we would like to work on finding ways to have this happen sooner or even during these kinds of situations.