OPINION: A slice to savor: How to navigate the social eating scene

Kelly Burgess

Kelly Burgess

As summer lingers and fades, one of the most wonderful times of the year begins. So many opportunities come along with a new school year–reunions with old friends, meeting others for the first time and endless social gatherings, sporting events and celebrations. Recently, I realized all these events all have one thing in common.

Why does it seem that everything in life revolves around food? Planning grocery lists, getting coffee or lunch with friends and attending social events all somehow involve food! Whether it is a meal, snack or dessert, anytime people get together, there is usually some type of refreshment. Of course, the words “free food” take a party to a whole new level!

I value spending time with people so much, but sometimes it feels like a challenge to do this and not gain the freshman 15 in the first week of school! How is it possible to maintain a healthy social calendar and body at the same time? These simple tips will allow you to have your cake and eat it too!

One simple way to navigate the social eating scene is to plan ahead. For example, if you know you will be attending an event where healthy options are scarce, eat a healthy snack ahead of time. This will prevent you from being so hungry and overeating foods you wish you didn’t. You can also plan ahead by packing a lunch or picnic. By doing this, you have more control over the foods you eat and the portions you consume.

Speaking of portions, another simple way to stay healthy is simply to eat smaller portions of foods that are more “fun” than nutritious. There is nothing wrong with having a treat occasionally, but consider ordering the smaller size option or sharing your treat with a friend!

Another tip is to keep healthy foods available at home. If there is junk food around, I am always tempted to eat it, but if it isn’t there, sometimes I even forget that I wanted it. Eat well at home, and save the treats for special occasions.

Along with healthy eating, consider doing something fun and active with a friend instead of always just meeting over coffee. Go for a walk, explore a new area of town or visit a local park. You still get to spend time together, but in a way that is fresh, exciting and healthy.

You don’t have to choose between a social life or a healthy lifestyle. Simply think ahead and make the best of both.