Flexible Dieting and Social Situations
Society is built around eating and the occasions where we eat together. There are NUMEROUS social pressures that we all face! Every minute you turn around it’s somebodies birthday, it’s a holiday, your friends are in town, your parents are in town, Joe just got promoted at his job! It’s time to celebrate! Cake, cookies, ice cream, rib-eyes!
Unless you’re a recluse or somehow have absolutely nobody who desires to spend social time with you, you’re going to be asked to some form of social situation every now and then. For many this is a great thing! “Free food and drinks!” “Friends and good times!” For someone looking to get into fantastic shape, situations like this scream “temptation!” “How am I going to avoid eating that entire cheese and cracker tray!?!?!”
Firstly, it’s okay to say “No, thank you” in these types of situations if you’d much rather eat something tastier for dinner/lunch rather than chomp down on snacks. A simple “I don’t want to spoil my dinner” should suffice. However, if fruit trays, mixed nuts, deli meats, and little finger foods are your idea of a great meal, then prepare for your feast.
Most of the time things such as a snack buffet are not surprise events, there is usually some warning time (at least 12-24 hours). Plenty of time to formulate a strategy. If you’d like to just go to the event with no forward thinking, eat what looks good and then play catch up with your calories and macros at the end of the day, be my guest. However, if you’re looking to have that buffett work towards your diet, then I suggest following my hierarchy of macros.
The Hierarchy of the Macros:
Protein is at the top of the hierarchy for a few reasons. For one, Protein is generally the spot where most individuals fall short on their macro goals and should always be the primary concern in every dietary venture. Secondly, because of the thermogenic and satiating qualities, a protein calorie is actually worth less because of the energy required to digest. Thusly, you’ll be filled up with protein before you can eat a whole pecan pie.
Alcohol also has a high thermic value, but it can also cause a “screw it” affect if over consumption occurs. This is demonstrated in individuals who binge drink and then go to their nearby McDonalds and order the entire dollar menu for themselves. With this in mind, I would suggest to also limit your drinking OR to leave the dessert table alone if you’re wanting to drink a great deal as high fat intake along with drinking can lead to some negative consequences to your physique.
Carbohydrates are not easily stored as body fat, especially in terms of short term over feedings. Dietary Fat is the most easily converted to body fat because it is molecularly identical, especially in the presence of surplus calories. This is why I place dietary fat at the bottom of the list.
Let’s place this in a real world scenario…
The Occasion: Thanksgiving
The Location: Grandma’s House
Step 1.) The morning of, get your ass out of bed and do something that requires some muscularity. If your gym is open, get yourself a quality training session. If it isn’t, do some push ups, chin ups, dips, and some sprints outside. This will just help with nutritional partitioning, so that the excess calories will be directly beneficial towards muscle development. It’s not 100% necessary, but it’s a nice addition if possible.
Step 2.) Before going to the occasion have yourself a high protein, low fat, low carb breakfast. For Example: 5 Egg whites scrambled, A protein shake, fat free cottage cheese, Greek yogurt or a combination of these.
Step 3.) When you arrive to the house, check out the kinds of eats, ask what people brought and formulate what sounds amazing with what will work best towards your diet. It’s Thanksgiving and there is an assumption of turkey, you should load up on white meat
Step 4.) Remember the Hierarchy:
Eat Protein Sources along with your favorite green vegetables: Turkey, Ham, maybe somebody brought roast beef. Get a big salad. Load up on this to place a large, hunger blunting buffer so you’re less likely to binge.
Introduce the carbs. Buns, breads, rolls, potatoes, fruit salads, etc.
Finish the meal off with your dessert of choice. I’m personally a big fan of pecan pie. But feel free to get a taste of other desserts, but you don’t need to eat a whole piece to appreciate it.
Step 5.) Only take the leftovers that you can easily work into your diet. The things that require the least amount of guess work. Turkey breast, rolls, asparagus, etc. Simple stuff.
Step 6.) That evening stick to lean proteins to finish off the day.
Flexible Dieting and Eating Out at Restaurants
In previous generations going out to eat was not allowed if you were on a diet. And on the rare occasion a restaurant offered a healthy option it was much less appetizing than the usual fair and everyone at your table would judge you for attempting to make the "better choice" when all they want to do is eat their triple cheeseburger without the feeling of being weak in the face of your iron clad will.
One of the beautiful parts about flexible dieting is that you could very much go about your life and nobody NEEDS or will necessarily know that you're on a diet. Not unless you do what many people do when dieting and feel the need to burden them with the long list of things you can and cannot eat (Guilty.) I’ve been out to eat with other folks who were self conscious to let me see them eat because they think I’m going to order just chicken and broccoli (although I’ve ordered that as well) or the diet plate and they just want to eat a cheeseburger. This is generally why I’ll try to be the first one to order.
“I’ll take a philly cheesesteak please.”
People turn to me with a bit of shock in their eyes. Then before I know it everyone has ordered a philly cheesesteak, some thinking that it’s the way to a great physique. Well, not exactly, but it can be if you’re well versed in flexible dieting.
Lucky for you and me, we live in a much more health conscious era where listing the nutritional contents of foods is not only a social obligation but in some places is actually required. When preparing to go out for a meal with family and friends, look up the restaurant's nutritional facts menu online. A simple google search of "(name of restaurant) nutritional facts" should do the trick. First find the thing that you would like to eat and see if it would be at all possible to fit it within your calorie and macronutrient parameters. You may assume it wouldn't, but you would be surprised. Sometimes it's a place you don't really care about and you're going out of obligation. Perhaps you have something at home in your fridge or another restaurant item you'll be having later that same day. In this instance look for the lowest calorie option, see how gross it looks, and then crawl up the list until you find something with a macronutrient profile that appeals to your goals and your tastebuds.
Some restaurants are a flexible dieters dream. Meaning: Easy, high protein, flexible carbs and fats. Here are a list of restaurants that I enjoy to go to and feel comfortable in helping me keep to my diet. Each of these is linked to the nutritional facts provided by the restaurants.
Rudy’s (Click on the “i” to get the macro breakdown)
LIke I mentioned before, myfitnesspal.com has an immense database for foods available at resturaunts with the nutritional facts provided by the resturaunt. There is also another free phone app and online database called nutritionix (.com.) It’s another fully comprehensive list to help you manage your calories and macronutrients while on the go.
Occasionally I don’t feel like being a wizard with my macro balances to fit in a double cheeseburger with french fries. When I’m busy I just like to think of food as fuel and get it in quick. Here is a small list of foods that I like to grab on the go. Again, it’s by no means comprehensive, but some quick suggestions.
Favorite Fast Food Quick Grabs:
Subway: Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Sub
In-N-Out Burger: Protein Style Hamburger
Taco Bell: Fresco Style Soft Taco (Steak or Chicken)
Mcdonalds: Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wraps
Chick-Fil-A: Grilled Chicken Sandwich
But sometimes things aren’t printed onto paper or calculated up for your convenience. Life isn’t always that easy. However, we’re adults, we’ve got brains, experience and strategy on our sides and we can make the best and succeed under any circumstance.