The paleo challenge may be over, but I am still living and loving the paleo lifestyle! How about you? If you have been invited to a social function or anything catered, and have recently gone paleo, you’re probably panicking.
It can be frightening trying to know how to stay paleo at social events. Yes, these events can be a lot like dining out paleo, but there are often fewer choices and a little more peer pressure going on. With all of the summer parties, weddings, and celebrations, I want you to be armed with the right information so you can make the best choices possible.
Eat before you go.
If you’re really not sure what kind of a food situation you’ll be walking into, it might be better for you to go ahead and enjoy something prior to arriving at your event. If you absolutely know what will be served, and it’s not paleo at all, you are probably best off actually eating until you are full at home.
Always make sure you eat a lot of satisfying fat and protein. If you snack on something high in sugars before you go, you’ll probably feel really hungry while at the social function and it will be hard to stay paleo if there aren’t many good choices available.
Seek out fruits and veggies.
It’s not always possible to find fruits and veggies at social functions, but try really hard to find something that will work for you! A side salad, fruit, steamed veggies, or fresh fruit and veggie platters are great options to stay on track. Avoid the dips or sauces, though, if you can.
Show me the MEAT!
Unless you are a vegetarian, meat is a big part of your paleo diet. Stay paleo at dinner parties and social functions by finding the meat and loading up! Steak, brisket, grilled chicken, pork chops, and so much more are terrific options for a paleo plate of food. Most times, it’s easier to find a fairly paleo meat than to find paleo produce.
It’s unfortunate, but so many menus consist of a fatty fried meat (peel off the battered coating to make your food paleo!) and heavy carby sides (like potatoes, corn, and rolls or biscuits with gravy). Trust me. Go for the meat. It will be far more satisfying than giving in to the starches.
Ignore the grains and beans!
Just ignore their existence! That buttery roll, pile of beans, or the crunchy taco shell are not worth it, I promise. Whatever your reason(s) for going paleo, that is still valid when you’re out and about. Eating a whole serving (or more) of grains might make you fit in with your peers more, but they won’t nourish your body and may derail your efforts. (This is particularly true if you are trying to lose weight.)
If something is normally served on a bun or in a wrap of some sort, ask for it without it, or even ask for lettuce instead. For example, if your buddy is grilling up some hot dogs and burgers, simply ask for no bun or pile lettuce on the plate before plopping the burger patty on top!
Bring some snacks.
I had a church function last weekend that was catered. Not knowing what would be provided, I decided to bring some trail mix with me. It’s a good thing I did, because we were served a wrap (with chicken, black beans, corn, cheese, some kind of dressing, and onions), tortilla chips, and a lemon bar. I dug out the chicken from the wrap, but had to turn down everything else! Had I not brought the trail mix, I would have been mighty hungry!
Besides trail mix, small fruits, a snack baggie of nuts, baby carrots, jerky, a Lara Bar, fruit leathers, or honey sticks can make some good snacks that are easy to transport in a pocket or small purse. It’s best to be prepared!
If it’s a potluck, bring something paleo that you can eat!
If you’re expected to bring your own dish, by all means, bring something that you can enjoy! There are tons of “normal” foods that are also paleo, such as fruit salad, green salads, bacon-wrapped sweet potato fries, or paleo friendly desserts. This is awesome, because if there’s nothing else to eat at the gathering, you know that you can definitely eat your own contribution.
It sounds simple enough, but several people forget this step. Drinking enough water staves away hunger since many times we feel hungry when we’re actually thirsty. For the best hydration, stick to water. Tea (I choose decaf) or coconut water could also work. 🙂
Remember that it’s not about being perfect.
Paleo eating isn’t about being perfect, but there’s no point in totally blowing it either! Make the best choices possible, but give yourself a little bit of grace if you need to.For example – Does that steak sauce contain corn starch or MSG? You may not be able to find out, but if you want to eat a little, then eat a little! Did they use olive oil to saute those vegetables? It may be impractical to ask.
Being stricter at home is much easier because you can control every single ingredient. Being out and about, it just may not be possible.
If you must cheat, be wise.
Sometimes there truly are NO paleo choices at all. I was recently at a restaurant and they literally only served fried chicken or chicken fried steak, with biscuits, iceburg salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, and creamed corn. That’s it. As in, that’s the entire menu. What in the heck!?
I had to choose things that I knew wouldn’t make me feel awful.
If ice cream sends you running to the bathroom, that probably shouldn’t be your cheat. If wheat gives you migraines – by all means, avoid it! If potatoes make you pack on the pounds, don’t even bother sampling them. Use some wisdom and it’ll all be alright.
You Can Do It!
This summer, and all year ’round, there are numerous events where food is provided. It may be hard to stay paleo, but I’m confident that you can do it if you follow these tips!