Raw Foods and Social Situations
Summer is in full swing. We’re bombarded with social events that inevitably revolve around food—potlucks, barbecues, picnics, receptions, celebrations of every sort. This is the season people gather with loved ones for reunions, weddings, graduations and family vacations. Food has for eons been the focal point of social gatherings in nearly every culture. That is not going to change, and we raw foodists can’t pretend we can change it. In our culture today, however, the sad fact is that food, in social settings, tends to be ... less than optimal for health.
Family is by far the trickiest obstacle you will have to navigate—especially when family members aren’t supportive of your dietary choices. Mothers and grandmothers will take it personally if you don’t have seconds of all your childhood favorites. Grandmothers, indeed, all belong to a secret society whose agenda is to “strengthen” (read: “fatten”) the next generation. Eat something—you’re wasting away … You’ve got to eat … It’s good for you …
Breads and cakes, sweet pies and sugary cobblers and starchy casseroles … these are the tools of their cult. Keep in mind, though, that family members usually truly do love you and have your best interests at heart. However misguidedly, they are only trying to help when they ask, as my mother did just this past week, “But what are you eating for protein, dear?”
We need also to overcome our need to avoid drawing attention to our eating habits. “Normal” eating is so normal, we tend to think, that those of us deliberately living outside the norm ought somehow to hide that fact. “I’m on a diet” seems to pass. People understand that. But “I don’t eat meat” or “I only eat raw” or “I don’t eat in the evening” seem, to most, odd. And none of us likes to feel odd. So we give in to all manner of sumptuous fare for appearance’s sake, from not wanting to rock the boat. See, I'm loading my plate with potato salad and chocolate cake just like you, so I'm okay. Aren’t I?
Most of us are decidedly normal in the excuses we make. Celebration is the classic summertime excuse. Can’t I celebrate? After all, I've been so good. A little bit won’t hurt, just this once … Except when a little bit turns out to be not so little after all and we end up reaching for the Tums, bemoaning our lack of willpower later.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about sailing smoothly through gatherings of friends and junk food… Bring your own food. This seems obvious, but is worth mentioning. Bring all the delicious raw foods you can to a food event. At least you’ll know you’ll have something to eat and won’t be obsessing about food the whole time. This will free you to get on with the most important part—enjoying the celebration and the people you love.
Another necessary tactic: Eat ahead of time. This way you can easily avoid giving in to temptations and you’ll have a ready-made excuse. “Oh, thanks. But I’ve just eaten.” Variation for use with your cultist aunts and grandmothers: “I’ve just eaten. But can I take some home for later?”
Decide deliberately and quietly, as the event starts, as you approach the buffet table, what you’ll eat. An instant plan, if you will. I’ll have a little bowl of those berries … and one of those … and a couple of these … and that’s it. When you’re done, praise yourself quietly. I decided. I did it. I’m done.
Finally, find something to do that doesn’t focus on food. A good game of Boggle. Charades. “Dave, I’d love you to show me your model railroad.” Croquet in the back yard. Even a little stand-up comedy. Whatever your diversion, it will take your mind off the hot dogs and beer, not to mention your friends’ minds off their notion that you ought to be downing those hot dogs and frothy Foster’s.
Where there’s a will there’s a way, goes the old saying. But your social gatherings shouldn’t be a grinding exercise in willpower. It’s the way, you see—deliberate, thoughtful method—that helps raise your social events above the level of mere will. The best way to deal with social situations while trying to maintain a healthy raw food diet: Plan your strategies ahead of time and stick to them. You’ll feel all the better for it, physically and mentally. And your grandma will still love you in the end, I promise!