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Healthy Holiday Eating: Part II - Eating Well in Social Situations

An Awkward Moment

You know that moment when the triple chocolate layer cake makes its grand entrance? The host or hostess begins cutting wedges the size of bricks and smiles at you, inviting you to partake of this rapturous culinary delight. You are on a low carb diet that keeps you feeling fit and looking fabulous. What do you do?

Here is a response almost guaranteed to get you excommunicated from nearly any group. (Unless it's a chapter of the "No Carb Nutritional Snobs').

"Oh, no thanks! All that sugar and chocolate isn't good for anybody. I don't even think it tastes very good, now that I am on a low carb diet. Did you know that in a book about the Atkins Diet, it is said that sugar is the most commonly consumed cancer-causing substance in the western world? And chocolate has toxic contaminants in it - insect parts and heavy metals. Besides, you know what they say - "a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.'"

Your host or hostess only wants to share the pleasure of their delectable chocolate creation. (And, by the way, I am not picking on chocolate - just using it as an example. I actually eat it myself occasionally because I know it has some excellent health benefits. It is the large amounts of sugar that most chocolates contain that is devastating to health. I make my own to bypass that pitfall. See below).

Or, you could try the "I'm allergic to chocolate' ploy. But your hostess has provided another sugary dessert for those who might not like chocolate. So now what do you do? How many things can you be allergic to?

Honesty Accompanied by Graciousness

Here are some ideas on how to be a gracious guest that your host or hostess will want to invite back again and again, and keep your diet healthy at the same time.

1 - A low-profile approach: When they pass the potatoes and you are on a low carb diet, you can either take just a little, or pass the dish on to the next person. If someone happens to notice and says something like, "Don't you want more than that?' you can reply, "No thanks, I want to leave more room for that great chicken dish.'

So as you choose not to partake of the potatoes, you are complimenting the chef by your desire for his/her other creation. Not only that, but you are being honest as well as gracious. You really do want more of the chicken!

2 - Food selection: Once you have filled your plate, you can eat as much or as little of whatever is on it that you want. Assuming that most of what you put on your plate is food you want to eat and enjoy, you will fit right in, happily chatting and munching just like everyone else.

3 - Compliment the chef: - let them know how much you are enjoying the Chicken Marsala or String Beans Almondine. The chef wants to feel appreciated. So what if you didn't eat a few ounces of potatoes.

What About That Chocolate Cake?

OK, you got this far, and out comes the triple-layer chocolate cake. Now what?

You thoroughly enjoyed the meal, and you made sure to let your host/ hostess know that. You can do one of two things when that huge wedge of chocolate comes your way:

1 - Ask for a smaller piece. "That looks so good, but I only have room for a small slice, thanks.' You can then taste and enjoy some without finishing it. One of the other guests may very well ask if you want the rest, and happily grab your plate to finish it.

2 - Simply say, "No thanks, I enjoyed everything else so much I don't have room for another bite.' You already have expressed your appreciation and enjoyment during the main part of the meal, so the chef knows you loved his/ her food.

Last, and Most Important

Never feel guilty about choosing the best foods for you in any social situation! If anyone makes an issue over why you are not eating something, it's their problem! If you feel you have to justify what you are doing, or get angry or annoyed, that defensiveness shows you that you are insecure.

It is common for someone who has recently switched to a better diet or lifestyle to become somewhat evangelical and want to convert everyone else to their way. Once you get comfortable and confident with your new dietary preferences, you won't have to do that.

Of course, it is natural to want to share your enthusiasm about something that made you feel so much better. But it is best to share it only with those who express an interest with questions like, "You look really great! How did you lose weight?' This gives you an opening to tell them what you are doing. Keep it simple and short. If they want more details, they will ask you.

In Part III of 'Holiday Healthy Eating Tips,' I will share food selection suggestions that will help keep you feeling fit and fabulous while having a great time.

Have a wonderful Holiday!


Ellen Landauer is a Health Seminar Leader and Coach with 3 decades experience, a nutritional supplement expert, and a Certified Advanced Rolfer with a practice for over 25 years. Her mission is to empower people to achieve optimal health.

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