Dieting, or making major life changes to be healthier, can be difficult enough to begin with. Add in that it can be isolating because often we make poor food choices when gathering as a group, and suddenly becoming healthier can become very lonely. One of my very best friends has been on a health and fitness journey for over a year (check her out over at Life as Alyx, she posts some of her healthy recipes there!) so when I ask her over it’s usually her “cheat” meal, but even so I try to provide her with options to make it a bit more healthy for her. I support you, so that means I support your goals, too, right?
Recently she came and visited with another friend of ours and we were having a “celebration” dinner of sorts. I wanted to serve something decadent, festive and fun- but I didn’t want to hand her a total gut-buster meal! We ended up having an awesome night with salad, cake, wine and pasta! I put a lot of thought into what to make because I wanted it to feel like a fun dinner, but I didn’t want to feed her something so far outside of her regular diet that it could make her sick. Since that dinner went so well and everyone enjoyed it, dieting or not, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks!
- Always start with salad. And not a “salad” where it’s pasta, or marshmallows and fruit- an actual salad with greenery, a light vinaigrette and minimal cheese is ideal.
- If it’s carbohydrate heavy, ask if they’d like to have a carbohydrate alternative. Roasted cauliflower to sub out for potatoes, zoodles or spaghetti squash in favor of pasta- you get the idea! I find that the alternatives are often so fun that even those who aren’t on a quest for healthier living just want to try them anyhow!
- Serve wine in smaller glasses or pour for guests. We all have that friend with wine glasses that sneakily hold half a bottle of wine- not only is this incredibly dangerous, but if they aren’t familiar with what volume your glasses hold, it’s hard for them to determine what’s a serving. I often pour, then as I’m handing my guest the glass, I say, “This is a standard four ounce glass- not sure if you drove!”
- Tell your guests what’s for dessert- it helps them determine portion sizes.
- If you have the time and inclination, ask if they want this to be a “cheat” meal. If they do, just have fun!
Obviously it doesn’t make sense to make multiple meals- but by asking questions, giving options, having a salad and assisting with alcohol portion control, you can help your guests make the absolute best decisions for their goals.
How do you help support your friends that are on a restricted or healthy-eating diet?
In case you were wondering, I served The Pioneer Woman’s mushroom four cheese pasta with optional spaghetti squash (I made a dish up of each and let everyone choose what they wanted), Caesar Salad with vinaigrette style dressing, light Parmesan and no croutons, there was wine and a girlfriend brought a delicious cake!