5 Tips for socialising with a new lifestyle

Uncategorized Jul 11, 2016

When it comes to diet, we’re often aware of how changing what we eat can affect our bodies and minds, but rarely do we talk about the impact it may have on our social lives.

 

For many of us, eating, drinking and socialising go hand in hand. We meet a friend for coffee, head to the pub for after work drinks, commiserate and celebrate with sweet treats and alcohol. It would seem that these things are inextricably combined. But do they have to be?

 

It can be difficult to adjust to socialising in a way that incorporates your new lifestyle. If you don’t drink alcohol you may not want to spend time in a pub, even if all your friends are there. Birthdays and celebrations usually involve cake, but that becomes less exciting when you don’t eat sugar and wheat. Even simple things like going to a friend’s for dinner can become difficult – people may be unsure what to cook for you, or you may worry about seeming too ‘fussy’.

Of course, there are plenty of alternatives that you can substitute for the food on offer. Maybe next time it’s a colleague’s birthday, you offer to make a cake – that way you can wow them with your avocado-cacao cake or your sugar-free, wheat-free beetroot sponge. Or next time you meet up with friends, suggest a restaurant that caters for your needs or an activity where you each bring a dish of your choice. Chances are they’ll love your recipes and you might change their minds about the whole thing – tasting is believing, after all.

 

Inevitably, however, there are times where supplying your own food or offering to take the lead isn’t an option, or you simply don’t want to. On these occasions you may have to deal more with negative reactions from your friends, family and co-workers.

 

When you start changing your diet, you may find that people don’t react the way you’d like them to. Instead of support, you find you’re met with judgment, defensive comments or disbelief. This usually has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them, but it can still be hurtful and difficult to deal with.

 

It can be particularly difficult if it’s a tradition you have shared with someone, for example going out for cocktails every month. But just because you don’t drink or eat a certain thing anymore, doesn’t mean the end of your tradition. Focusing on the relationship rather than the activity can help with this. Think about what you enjoy about cocktails with that person – is it actually the alcohol or is it that you love their company and you have great conversations together?

In these situations, it’s helpful to remember that it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Things can easily be blown out of proportion so it can help to take the time to explain your new diet in a different way. For instance, rather than simply saying ‘I don’t eat sugar anymore,’ you could elaborate with ‘I’ve cut out sugar as I find it really effects my mood and I want to feel happier and healthier.’ Any good friend will want to support you in feeling better, and if they don’t, perhaps it’s time to re-examine that relationship.

 

Perhaps the person who makes you feel bad about your lifestyle choices isn’t the type of person you want in your life. I’m obviously not suggesting that you have to cut everyone who makes a joke about your healthy lifestyle out of your life immediately, but if someone really can’t see past your eating habits, you might want to start spending more time with the people who do.

 

It can be hard to navigate your social life when you start to make changes to your diet and lifestyle, but it can also open new doors. You might lose some friends, but you will gain new friends who share your values. You might miss out on a few trips to the pub, but you will start to focus on the activities that make you feel good. And, of course, at the heart of this journey are the reasons you have for making the changes in the first place. As long as you keep reminding yourself of those reasons, even when things feel tough, everything else will fall into place.

5 Tips for fitting your social life into your new lifestyle 

Suggest a recipe. If a friend invites you for dinner, but isn’t sure what you can eat – tell them. Suggesting a recipe takes the pressure of them to pick something and guarantees they’ll prepare something you can eat. It also reminds them that you’re not trying to exclude them, you’re just trying to exclude certain foods!
Make the decision. Similarly, why not suggest the restaurant next time you go for dinner with a group? You’ll be happy with the food, they’ll be grateful not to have to organise anything, and you can try somewhere new together.
Focus on the relationship, not the activity. Think about why you want to spend time with someone and remember that that reason exists without food and alcohol. Find something you can do that doesn’t revolve around indulging, or is indulgent in a different way.
Take a walk. If you’re missing your usual chat over a glass of wine, a walk can be great way to get talking. In the open air and without the usual distractions, you’ll find the conversation flows just as easily. And you’ll get some exercise too!
Make new traditions. There will be traditions that will fade away when you start to eat differently, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make new ones. It may take time, but it will be totally worth it!
 

 For more blog posts by Maria Moore please visit mooreofthis.co.uk

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