5 Solutions to Social Awkwardness in Dieting

Think for a second: the last time your coworkers or friends asked you to accompany them for a meal, what did you do? Did you freak out? Did you decide to take a break from the plan? Did you tell them you can’t go out?

We all have been in situations that make us feel awkward because of our decision to live a healthier, fitter lifestyle. Not too long ago, I had one among my own family!

We usually have family dinners on Sundays. I had just started following the 4HB plan, and dinner that night was going to include a delicious potatoey-cheezy-cornflakey casserole. I absolutely adore that stuff! But it doesn’t fit in my new lifestyle on most days. We were going to be 10 adults, and the recipe my mom asked me to make serves 12. She asked for a recipe and a half. I had to decide how I would handle the awkward.

I’ve got five different situations that could also be pretty awkward. I wonder how many you can relate to and what you would do!

1. Eating Out With Coworkers

The Awkward: It’s Wednesday around 11am and your friends are making plans to eat. They usually involve pasta or giant, greasy burgers. You skipped out the last time, and you don’t want to be the one loser who doesn’t go this time. Or you pass, and they make fun of you when you explain it’s because of your diet change. “Look, you can eat anything you want, just in moderation,” they chide. The problem is that eating anything you want is exactly what has put on that extra fat (p.s., true story).

The Solution: Take the lead and initiate the lunch discussion. You can offer suggestions you know are healthy. If you do it often enough, they won’t mind if you decline their invitation once in a while. Everyone understand that you can’t eat out every time. At the very least you are able to eat at places where you can find food you’re willing to eat. Best case scenario, you begin to encourage your coworkers toward healthier living as well, and you change the whole culture!

2. Pot Luck Suppers

The Awkward: You’re pretty hungry, and you’re waiting in line to get some food. There are quite a bit of people here, so there’s bound to be something you can eat and stay on plan. You reach the meat loaf and chicken and feel good. On to the veggies. But wait…since when did all veggies come smothered in cream or cheese? Don’t they make fresh veggies anymore? There are beans, but they’re baked (in sugar…). Gah…looks like it’s protein with a bit of protein on the side.

The Solution: It’s kind of obvious: bring your own dish! You won’t need to take a protein – they’ll usually be there already. You could steam some broccoli or maybe broil some asparagus with a good garlic oil. If you think you might have a hard time finding a legume, make a 5 bean bean salad. Taking your own dishes ensures you’ll have something to eat!

3. Company Party

The Awkward: Especially in the summer, companies like to have parties. Chips, dip, cookies, and cake are the usual fare around here. Occasionally there will be veggies. There is always beer. What can you do if you don’t want to look silly walking around with just a bottled water?

The Solution: There will usually be something you can eat. Maybe only one thing, but you won’t be awkwardly not holding a plate. At an afternoon shindig, there will probably be some kind of activity, so you can distract yourself (and your coworkers). If it’s an evening party, you should be able to find at least a glass of wine. At our Christmas party, there were tons of dessert options and lots of starch and just a bit of roast beef. I had beef and a glass of red. If all else fails, stay on the dance floor. If you know you might have a hard time, eat something before you go!

4. Invited to a Neighbor’s House

The Awkward: Your neighbor catches up with you cutting grass and invites you over. You are a good neighbor, so you agree and are delighted. But it’s not on your cheat day. You will have no control over the meal. You want to eat, but you don’t want to cheat, but you also don’t want to offend. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it.

The Solution: Offer to bring a side! That way at least you’re guaranteed of something healthy. On the random chance that they ask you what you’d like, make it 4HB friendly. As a worst case scenario, if you think you won’t be able to eat anything, say you can’t make it but invite them over on the weekend when you can control the menu.

5. Birthday Parties

The Awkward: Terribly delicious food, ice cream, and birthday cake. Need I say more?

The Solution: Sometimes you just have to say “no thanks.” If you’re with people who really care about you, explaining that you don’t want a piece of cake will be enough. The good news about most Americans being overweight is that they’re all generally familiar with dieting so they won’t be surprised. For a fun exercise, count how many people say, “I really shouldn’t be eating this!” And then they go back for seconds.

Wrapping Up

Some of these examples are probably a bit exaggerated, but the point of this thought exercise was to convince all of us that if we really want to find good options, we can. Some times it might be more difficult than others, but I really believe there’s always a choice.

Then again there may be a time or two that you only have two choices: cheat or go hungry. If you’re able to plan ahead, eat something before you go. Otherwise, cheat or go hungry, and don’t feel bad about it.

For our family dinner, I tried explaining that we don’t need to eat more than one serving each. I wasn’t going to be eating any myself, and we should start trying to eat better. I ended up making the amount she wanted, but not without talking about it at dinner. The irony is that nearly all of us that were around that table should be eating healthier. I was sort of surprised at the flack I got. I almost felt wrong for suggesting it. But I maintained and didn’t eat the potatoes. I also passed on the cherry pie that followed dinner. Now I just need to work on consistency.

What about you? How have you avoided social awkwardness? Do you have any really great, potentially embarrassing stories to share?


Related Posts:


  1. Good suggestions Jason. So proud of you for making those choices with your family! Family is often the hardest. Keep being a good example!

  2. I’ve found that with people I don’t know that well or ordering at a restaurant, it’s easier to let them believe my eating restrictions are allergy related. I don’t actually say “I have an allergy to wheat/gluten”, but if they ask I’ll just say “I can’t eat gluten… or I can’t eat suagr.” – usually this implies allergy and doesn’t warrent further questions. It sounds a bit weird, but I have a friend who for health reasons can’t eat any gluten or sugar so I just started following her lead and acting like it’s a a health matter as well.

    A bit harder to do with friends and family. There’s plenty of other good dieas in this link here:

Speak Your Mind


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.