Plain and simple - a healthy diet is crucial in preventing health conditions like heart disease and cancer. People don't doubt this truth, but many choose not to act on it all the time. It can be tough to limit sweets, fats and red meat from our diet because for so long, we have associated those foods with rewards and feelings of well being. Luckily, it is never too late to renovate your diet and make healthier decisions. But, before you assume complete responsibility for what goes in your mouth, think twice - your social circles may have more to do with your eating choices than you think.
Odds are, your best friend is not spoon-feeding you cheesecake at the neighborhood dinner party, and your nephew certainly isn't asking you to dip into his Valentine candy. Yet, the people we interact with every day have a lot to do with what we eat. Think about the big events that happen each year - New Year's Eve, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday, for example. You may volunteer to bake cookies for a holiday bake sale at your child's school and wind up eating several of the treats yourself. Or, maybe you hand out treats to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, but end up munching on the candy between knocks at your door.
Even when the holiday season is over, we are sometimes tempted to eat poorly when around others. Dinner parties, birthdays and baby showers occur frequently and year-round. Typically, events like these feature casseroles and edible party favors. Nevertheless, there is a way to attend social events without falling out of good eating habits.
Start by picking out the foods and treats you absolutely cannot live without. Keep in mind, you can buy candy corn year round, along with the other sweets you might think are only available once a year. Instead of eating slice after slice of pumpkin pie, eat moderate amounts of Thanksgiving entrée items so you won't want more than a modest slice of pie for dessert. Prepare and bring low-calorie dishes to gatherings, like a tossed salad with raspberry vinaigrette or minestrone loaded with veggies and beans. Instead of hiding away from the festivities, fill up on fruits and veggies and enjoy a small portion of the must-have treats.
Better yet, think of a plan of action before the event takes place. Eat more of the low-calorie foods available so you have limited room for a bit of the treats you simply can't resist. Have a healthy snack beforehand, like vegetable juice or fruit or whole-grain crackers so you won't gorge at the gathering. Literally, look at the food that is going into your mouth so you don't get distracted and eat more than you intend.
It's unrealistic to expect to never slip and have a thick slice of cake or eat one too many dinner rolls at a restaurant. However, by using some of these tips most of the time, you will be sticking to a healthy diet and enjoying the company of those around you, which is the real point of social events anyway.
Information in this article was provided by Ever Green, Ever Healthy and the American Institute for Cancer Research. Is there a health topic you'd like to know more about? Please write to Mountain Medicine, c/o Flagstaff Medical Center, Public Relations, 1200 North Beaver Street, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, or visit FMC's Web site at FlagstaffMedicalCenter.com.