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How to Eat Healthy At Family Gatherings

Heading to a family party? Here are 5 simple tips that will show you how to eat healthy at your next family gathering. No more stressing, it's really easy!

How to Eat Healthy at Family Gatherings

Are you headed to a family get together and find yourself getting anxious or nervous when it comes to sticking with your healthy diet? Or maybe you tend to “let it go” when you're at parties only to wake up the next day feeling icky.

Trust me, I've totally been there!

Especially when I first went gluten- and dairy-free, my family didn't really understand, they weren't accustomed to accommodating special diets, and each time I left with a tummy full of chips and maybe a few raw veggies. While food isn't everything, it's part of what makes family get-togethers so fun. You're enjoying good food with the people you love most. That's pretty special!

In today's post, I'm going to walk you through some of my best tips for how to eat healthy at family gatherings. I want you to walk into your next party feeling confident that you can stick with your healthy eating habits and not leave feeling crummy or with a stomach ache.

Tips for Eating Healthy at Family Gatherings

1. Be Kind With Yourself

First and foremost, I want to preface that there's no “right” or “wrong” way to approach family gatherings. The best thing you can do, above all else, is to be kind to yourself. If you end up getting to the party and there aren't any healthy options, or maybe you indulge on something more than you normally do, that's okay!

Know that even if you “slip up” at a party, or for a night out with friends, that's not going to ruin anything. You're not going to magically gain 10 pounds. You're not going to set yourself back. One day is just one day. And when you wake up in the morning, just choose healthy options and you'll be back on track.

Don't stress too much, don't hold yourself back, don't let the food options make the party not enjoyable for you. Just be kind and understanding with yourself; never beat yourself up!

2. Don't Go Hungry

If you're unsure of the food situation, try not to go hungry. If you go to the party and you're completely ravenous, you're more likely to eat more than you need to, snack more mindlessly and reach for options that you might not normally reach for.

For me, that usually means having a small meal before I go. Something as simple as a smoothie (I've been loving my Hidden Veggie Pineapple Green Smoothie lately), or a small salad or even a veggie sandwich. If I've nourished myself before, then I find when I get to the party I can pass on the chips and sweets, and instead opt for the healthier options.

mayo-free vegan coleslaw recipe with creamy tahini dressing

3. Chat With The Host

Before you head to the party (usually a day or two before), ring up the host and nicely ask what the food situation is going to be. No need to go into a full explanation of why you're calling, because that could actually make the host more stressed, but just a quick, casual call to help you get the lay of the land is really helpful.

Once you know what to expect, you can go in with a solid game plan.

4. Bring a “Safe Dish”

Along the same lines as tip #3, while you're on the phone with the host, offer to bring something. Tell them you would love to help out, or you have some extra “X” in your fridge and you'd be more than happy to whip something up and pitch in.

This has two benefits…

  1. You're helping alleviate some of the pressure on the host. That's always appreciated! (well, most of the time!)
  2. You're able to bring a dish that you can “safely” eat and that you know is going to be healthy and nutritious. I love bringing things like a fun quinoa salad, or some sort of veggie-based dish. I've even actually found that these options go faster than things like chips and dip. Sometimes I think people subconsciously want something packed with veggies!

Healthy Potluck Recipes to bring:

10 healthy snack ideas for on-the-go professionals

5. Have a Snack in Your Bag

This is a trick that I use for pretty much all scenarios. Flying, car rides, parties, lunch dates, etc., I almost always have a snack in my bag. I like bringing a snack with me because then I know I have something to fall back on. If there are absolutely ZERO options for me to eat (which has definitely happened), then I can reach into my bag and have my snack.

Some of my favorite snack options to carry are protein bars, trail mix and apples/bananas. They're fairly inconspicuous, they don't take up much room, and they help tide me over until I can find something more substantial to eat.

And that's how to Eat Healthy at Family Gatherings!

I hope you found this post helpful and if you have any other tips that have worked for you, please share them with us below! I'd love for this to be an ongoing conversation where we share our tips and support each other.

I'll just leave you with one more final thought…

There's no such thing as a perfect diet – and it's unrealistic for you to expect to eat “perfectly” 100% of the time. All you can do is just do the best that you can do and know that's enough. You are a real person and sometimes that means letting go of perfection.

xo Alyssa