Socialize Without Food
Healthier Ways to Meet Friends and Family
“Let's meet for lunch.” For so many people, it's the simplest way to get together with friends and family. The problem is, social gatherings that revolve around food can sabotage healthy eating habits.
A typical restaurant dish contains between 600 and 1,000 calories. It's not uncommon for salads with dressing to weigh in at 900 calories, and all that's before adding on any extras. Appetizers add 400 to 600 calories and desserts can pile on 500 to 800 more. In the end a single restaurant meal can help you pack on between 1,200 and 2,000 calories.
The best way to stop these dietary disasters is to avoid them in the first place. I'm not suggesting you skip meeting up with friends and family, just don't choose get-togethers that put food front and center. Here are some alternatives I've found people really respond to.
Meet for a walk. Try a local park, alongside a lake, on a beach or in the woods. As long as the weather cooperates, it's a great way to get a little fresh air and sunshine while enjoying local scenery.
Create something together. Invite everyone over to decorate Easter eggs, carve pumpkins, assemble a scrapbook or create Christmas tree ornaments. You can provide a few simple materials like bowls and dye for eggs or patterns for pumpkins. Then let everyone express their creativity.
If you think you're creatively challenged, there are businesses to help out. You can build stuffed bears or paint dishes and pots with professional guidance and tools. You might not need a stuffed bear, but you can always donate the one you built to a local thrift shop or charity.
Break out of the ordinary in an escape room. These are places that typically take groups of up to eight people and put them in a carefully staged room. You then have an hour to solve the clues filling the room and figure a way out. It's a great way to learn more about how your teammates think and approach challenges. It's also exciting to try and get out before the clock runs out, or beat the best time of previous teams.
Get together for a lawn party. Setup a croquet course, throw a football, play bocce or challenge someone to a game of lawn darts or horseshoes. (Yes, lawn darts are still sold. They just don't come with spiked tips!)
Check out local attractions. Visit nearby museums. art galleries and historic places. Learn more about your community and history while sharing time with someone else.
Have a spa day. Massages, mud baths and mani-pedi's can all be fun with a friend. If you don't want to trek to the spa, you can do it at home as well. Manicures, pedicures and facials can all be done at home with minimal expense.
Volunteer for a local charity. There are plenty of groups that need extra help. Hand out water or medals at a 5K run, prepare food at a soup kitchen or even help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. You can choose something that needs your help for an hour, or a day.
For the more ambitious, jump on trampolines or run an obstacle course. Trampoline parks are opening around the country. Many include giant foam pits to dive into, basketball hoops to practice your dunking and ultimate dodgeball courts. There are also obstacle courses built to resemble events seen on TV like American Ninja Warrior. Some are stand-alone courses while others are inside water or trampoline parks.
Challenge your friends and family to do something completely different. Make a list of the things you've always wanted to do or accomplish. Then figure out how to do those things together. Train as a group to run your first 5K. Organize your friends to become certified divers. Take a dance class or help each other audition for parts in your community theater. It's about sharing time and experiences together that deepen relationships.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.