I recently had a request from a follower for tips on eating healthy while visiting relatives. It’s often difficult to eat healthy when everyone around is quite literally “having cake and eating it too.” 😉
As someone who has been gluten free for 8 years, I’ve become accustomed to people eating great food that I can’t enjoy. It was difficult at first, but you do “get used to it”. I know people often say this, but it is true. It does get easier. It has gotten to the point where the people I’m with are more uncomfortable than I am. I often have people say to me “I feel so bad you can’t have some of this cake/dessert/bread.” So, I’ll give you my tips and others I’ve found online, from people far smarter than myself.
What to do when visiting relatives or friends for a day, weekend or longer?
Here are my top tips:
- Bring your own food to share with the group…When I visit my family, I always bring my own gluten free bread/foods. While it is polite of the host/hostess to ask if you have any special needs/requests, never expect them to bend over backwards for you. Bringing your own food shows others your dedication to health and gives you the opportunity to educate others on your way of eating…but don’t be pushy. Who knows, you just may inspire someone to try healthy eating.
- Volunteer to cook one or more meals… This ensures that you get at least one meal during the weekend that is to your standards.
- Remember your manners… After 8 years, my family knows I’m gluten free. After a while, your family will learn your new eating habits too. However if I’m visiting a friend or going to a work related function, I politely decline anything with gluten or sugar. Just be polite; explain why if they ask; eat what you can of the food they prepared; and kindly refuse what you can’t enjoy.
- EAT A BIG BREAKFAST!… You may think the thing to do is skip breakfast, save up the calories for a big meal later. This is a mistake. In the morning, your body has been fasting for at least 8 hours, sometimes 12 hours or more. Now is not the time to skip a meal. You will find that you’re body will make up for those missed calories throughout the day. You’ll crave sugar and other unhealthy food, and eat lots of things you shouldn’t. Studies show that people who eat a good breakfast, consume fewer calories throughout the day than people who skip breakfast.
- Fill up with vegetables and lean protein… During any meal, fill 1/2 your plate with non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 of your plate with protein and 1/4 with a starchy veggie, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash. If there aren’t any starchy veggies, have 1 small serving of bread, hopefully whole grain. This will help when it’s time for dessert, and you’ll have an easier time saying no.
- Stick to portion sizes…If you are visiting Grandma’s house and she’s making your favorite, not so healthy, dinner, there’s no need to feel left out. Allow yourself to indulge in this meal, just stick to portion sizes. You don’t need special equipment, just your hand! I’ve included a chart below:
- Allow 1 indulgence per day… To finish off that delicious meal, Grandma made her special chocolate cake. Go ahead and have some. Now, just because you are indulging, doesn’t mean you can pig out. Have one sensible piece. Remember, an indulgence could come in liquid form as well. A glass or two of beer, wine or soda has about the same calories as a small piece of cake or pie.
- Water, water, water!…Water is your friend, always. It helps you feel full, keeps cravings at bay and keeps you hydrated. Symptoms of dehydration often surface as feelings of hunger.
- Suggest a dinner out… It’s fun…it’s sociable, and best of all, everyone gets to eat what they want.
- Get a good night sleep… This is a difficult one for me and something on which I need to work. I’m a night owl who only averages 6 hours/night. When visiting family or on any vacation, it’s tempting to stay up late. But experts say a good night sleep is essential to a healthy body and weight. Lack of sleep throws off chemical and hormonal balance in your body, and is similar to a constant state of stress. It can also lead to cravings and excess caloric intake.
There are other suggestions, but these will get you started. I’d love to hear tips from any of you. What do you do on vacation? How do you stick to your healthy diet? I’d LOVE to write a post that includes tips from my followers.