We’ve all been there: you show up at a luncheon and everything is high carb, full of fat, gluten-filled or otherwise designed to ruin your diet. It’ s like they did it on purpose! At least, that’s how it feels to you as you look over the offerings on the table. Your brain is spinning: “there’s nothing I can eat! Even the ‘salad’ is pasta!” It feels like your choices are: 1) blow your diet; or 2) eat nothing. For most of us, we end up choosing the smallest amount of the least diet-wrecking choice and nibbling on it, or jumping in with both feet and figure “today’s blown!” Even though what we end up eating is entirely our choice, it sure feels like whoever set up the luncheon had no consideration about your eating style.
In most cases, even for something work related, organizers/ caterers check with the employers regarding dietary preferences. It’s not uncommon to have employees who are vegan/ vegetarian, low carb, gluten-sensitive, or have other dietary requirements and if someone is required to show up for their job, it’s normal for the organizer to make as many accommodations as they can. Even for social functions, like a reception or a party, there are usually as many choices as possible for people who don’t eat meat, don’t eat dairy, don’t eat wheat/ gluten, are sugar-free or eat low carb. Food service is quickly becoming a minefield with all the eating styles and food allergies, so while many make the accommodations that they can, something will usually get missed!
While it’s easy to put bad lunch choices down to poor planning by the job’s caterer, it’s different when the person planning the menu is aware of your diet. Obviously, you don’t expect everything on the menu to meet your dietary requirements. If you’re low carb, you can’t expect there to be no bread, chips or potatoes if you show up to a friend’s BBQ, although you would expect there to be some low carb/ no carb foods available, especially if your friend is well aware of your eating style. Are they trying to sabotage you? Are they jealous of your weight loss or are they trying to tell you– albeit passive-aggressively– that they think your new diet is stupid? Or maybe they just don’t care? Whether they were just clueless or simply forgot, it’s easy to blame a day of terrible food choices on someone else, but the truth of the matter is that you ultimately made the decision so if you want to know who’s really at fault, that would be the person in the mirror!
It feels like it goes against the grain: why should you be punished for their screw up? You are trying to lose weight and be healthier and they just sabotaged your eating plan! They should be more supportive of you, right? Yes, I believe family and friends should support your healthy lifestyle, but in reality, it’s not their job to plan for your diet. It would be great if their Memorial Day BBQ didn’t have huge bowls of chips and trays of Rice Krispy treats to tempt you, but they did. Of course, you can’t expect everyone to eat the way you do and neither do your hosts, so there’s those chips, marshmallow treats, and plenty of other yummy crunchy bites for everyone else to eat. You don’t have to eat them.
It’s your choice whether you eat the foods that aren’t good for you. No one likes to hear that. It’s easier to blame someone else for tempting you or pushing the Forbidden Foods at you, but you can always say no. It’s all a matter of priorities. One of the examples Elizabeth Benton (Primal Potential) uses is this: “if someone told you your children would be harmed if you ate another french fry, would you even be tempted?” Of course not! While her example is a little bit extreme (just a wee bit!), it puts your choices into perspective, because it really is your choice! Think about all those times you’ve walked through the grocery stores and there’s stacks of donuts or cookies or racks of potato chips and you walked by without putting them into your basket. You made a choice not to buy those items.
I know: it’s different when you’re at a BBQ or a luncheon and they’re sitting out where you can see them and smell them and it’s so easy to tell yourself “it’s just one Rice Krispy treat…” Maybe it is just one for you, but most of the time, it isn’t. Even if it’s just the one at the BBQ, you remember how yummy it was and then before you know it, you’ve bought one at a Starbucks or a Circle K or even a box at the store. It starts the downward slide into a full out carb binge! Dang-it!! It’s because of that BBQ! If they hadn’t had those dang treats out, I’d have never eaten the first one!
That’s what we tell ourselves and I would seriously like to believe it. If my friends hadn’t had that onion dip at their BBQ, I wouldn’t have eaten those potato chips! If they hadn’t had bowls of yogurt covered pretzels, I wouldn’t have eaten those either! It makes me feel better to blame someone else, but I know it’s not the truth. They had the carb-o-licious stuff that’s not good for me but they also had trays of meats, cheeses and veggies which I could have eaten, and I did have some of those….in addition to all the stuff I should have kept out of my mouth! My friends are supportive of me (see the veggies, meats and cheeses) but they also don’t eat like I do. It’s not their job to be the Paleo Police and make sure I don’t go off-track, and they respect me enough to let me make my own choices.
Even if we are good about keeping the carbs and sugar (or whatever you’re trying to avoid) out of your home, sooner or later, you have to venture out into the world. You’re going to be standing at the check out and there’s those candy bars you adore, or you’ll be at lunch with friends who ordered fries and they don’t eat them all. We are all faced with temptation eventually and we have to be ready to say no or to accept the risks of saying yes. It’s all up to us in the end. Even if we are really good and our friends and family are really good, we can’t avoid all temptation! It’s part of reality!
Of course, some of us have people in our lives who are jerks. Most of us are familiar with that co-worker who’s always laughing at people who try to eat healthy. They’re the ones eating the Krispy Kremes in your face or waving the brownies at everyone else. It would be great if everyone could be supportive or at least polite. Again, not reality! But the truth is that they’re being a jerk has nothing to do with what you eat. At the end of the day, am I going to feel better eating what’s good for me or will I feel better giving in to temptation and eating foods that not only make me feel like a guilty failure? Or make me feel awful physically?
I can’t control who brings donuts to the meetings or the chips to the BBQ any more than they can control my decision not to eat any of them. I can only control what I eat and how I want to feel. Sometimes it feels like a cop out to blame myself when I give in to the temptation, especially when everyone at the luncheon or the meeting knows I’m trying to eat better. They didn’t have to bring bagels or danishes or croissants, and I tell myself that I didn’t have to eat them. Shifting the blame onto others for what I ate doesn’t make them any more responsible for my eating. All it does is make me feel powerless in the face of their temptations and that is definitely a feeling I want to avoid.