Keen to continue healing your gut but feeling anxious about navigating the social side of things? We know how hard it can be to explain dietary choices to friends and family – especially if it means we’re skipping that late night Macca’s run! But don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. We’ll be setting you up with a number of simple techniques to assert yourself gracefully and effortlessly.
Embarking on a journey to gut health – and therefore, overall health! – is a powerful step in the direction of a long and fulfilling life, but we know it’s not always easy. For starters, we’re surrounded by junk food and fast food at every corner, not to mention the social pressures weighing on us to “just take a bite” and fit in – and that’s not even getting started on the difficulties many of us have with sugar withdrawals and overcoming the psychological barriers standing in the way of our health. But as you’ve found yourself breaking down these barriers and embracing the benefits of nourishing foods over the course of the 21-Day Program, you’ve probably found yourself enjoying the clearer skin, the brighter moods and the smoother digestion. As you celebrate healthy fats, high protein, fibre, and fermented foods, you might find yourself facing challenges in social situations. Whether it's dining out with friends, attending parties, or catching up with loved ones, staying committed to your gut-friendly lifestyle can seem daunting amidst peer pressure – no, you don’t have to be in high school to fall victim to this! But fear not! With a few mindful strategies and a bit of assertiveness, you can confidently navigate social gatherings without compromising your gut health goals. So, let's delve into the art of assertive communication and riding the delicate balance of politeness and honesty in social situations.
Communication is key when navigating social situations while staying true to your gut-friendly diet. Inform your friends and loved ones about your dietary choices and the reasons behind them. When attending social events, consider contacting the host in advance to discuss your dietary preferences. Most hosts are understanding and will appreciate your openness, making it easier for them to accommodate your needs.
Before heading to an event or restaurant, take a moment to plan your meal choices. Scan the menu for gut-friendly options, such as salads with lean protein, grilled vegetables, or dishes featuring fermented foods. If the menu options are limited, don't hesitate to request modifications or substitutions to fit your dietary preferences.
Be Mindful at Buffets
Buffets can be a bit overwhelming, especially when faced with an array of indulgent choices. Approach the buffet with mindfulness, focusing on gut-friendly selections. Load up your plate with fresh salads, vegetable dishes, and lean proteins, and enjoy them mindfully. Avoid overindulging in processed foods or sugary treats.
Drinking plenty of water is essential for gut health, and it can also help you feel more collected and cool-headed – pun intended! – during social events. Hydrate throughout the gathering and limit sugary beverages. If you prefer a festive drink, opt for water infused with fruits or a kombucha, which not only supports gut health but also offers a delightful alternative. Those of you in the 21-Day Program can make your own kombucha and bring it to any events you’re headed to, if you desire! It’ll make for a fun conversation starter, and an easy way to avoid drinking soft drink.
Bring a Dish
If you're attending a potluck or gathering, why not bring a gut-friendly dish to share? This way, you'll have at least one option that aligns with your dietary choices, and you'll likely introduce others to some delicious foods. Healthy fats can be your allies. Avocado, nuts, and seeds can be easily incorporated into many dishes, from guacamole to spiced nuts. Need some inspiration? We’ve got you covered. You may consider using any of our tasty recipes from the 21-Day Gut Rebalance Program – from kimchi dumplings to zucchini slice – or head on over to our recipes page for a host of gut-healthy snacks, desserts and meals. Take a look at the shortlist of tasty treats we’ve got:
- Quinoa salad
It's essential to be kind to yourself and remember that sticking to a gut-friendly diet doesn't mean total restriction. Enjoy the company of your friends and loved ones without feeling guilty if you indulge in a small treat occasionally. Moderation is key, and a balanced approach to eating is crucial for both gut health and overall wellbeing.
Focus on the Experience
Lastly, remember that social gatherings are about more than just food. Focus on the joy of spending time with friends and loved ones. Engage in meaningful conversations, laughter, and shared experiences. When you immerse yourself in the moment, the pressure around food choices tends to fade away.
Here are some sample conversations to demonstrate how you can kindly but assertively stick to your gut-friendly diet in social situations:
Scenario 1: Dining Out with Friends
Friend: "Let's order some appetisers to share! How about the fried calamari?"
You: "What a great suggestion! Calamari sounds delicious and do feel free to order it for the table, but I'm trying to stick to gut-friendly foods for my health. I’m going to order some dolmades and Greek yoghurt – you’re welcome to share them with me!”
Friend: "Oh, of course! That sounds like a great idea. Let's get some grilled vegetables as well!"
Scenario 2: Attending a Party
Host: "Help yourself to the table! We have pizza, burgers, and a variety of finger foods – oh here, take a spring roll."
You: "Actually I'd love to try some of the cheese and salad skewers instead, but thank you for this amazing spread. Everything looks so delicious!"
Host: "Sure, feel free to enjoy!”
Scenario 3: Catching Up with Friends at a Café
Friend: "Let’s order some coffee and pastries! You have to try the chocolate croissant."
You: "Thank you for getting the coffee! The chocolate croissant looks tempting, but I'm trying to avoid refined sugars to support my gut health – I might go for the avo and eggs as I like to start the day with protein and healthy fats. I'll join you with the coffee, though!"
Friend: "That's understandable! I totally respect your dietary choices. Let’s order!”
Note: Now we’ve been rather generous with the respectfulness of your friend’s response, though we all know this isn’t always reality! You might find the more you try to decline a dish, the more they push you to eat it – “go on, just try it!”, or “please, I made it with you in mind!” – but that’s all the more reason to keep being assertive. Let the guilt trips flow past you like water off a duck’s back!
Scenario 4: Potluck Gathering
Friend: "Everyone brought their favourite dishes! You have to try some of my beer-battered fish."
You: "It looks amazing, and I appreciate the effort you put into it. I might have to give it a miss for now, but I’m keen to try your pasta bake and that quinoa salad!
Asserting your dietary choices in a kind and respectful manner not only helps you continue to make gut-friendly decisions but also creates a positive and understanding environment, along with helping you set boundaries in life – you might find this particularly helpful with managing controlling or pushy friends and family. Most people will appreciate your honesty and may even become more open to trying healthier options themselves. Remember, communication is key, and being confident in your choices will inspire others to be mindful of their own wellbeing as well.
Keen to learn more social survival techniques? That’s what we’re here for! Our 21-Day Gut Rebalance Program provides guides to eating well and living well – and that includes navigating life after the program, from eating out to maintaining gut health.