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Advice Needed on Visiting a Food-Loving Family

Weigh In: Visiting a Food-Loving Family

All you FitSugar readers are always there to offer helpful yet sensitive advice. I recently got a question from one reader that I thought you guys would have some great suggestions for. Here's the question:

Hi FitSugar,
I need some advice. I've lost over 17 pounds in the past few months. I still have 10 to go to meet my goal weight. This weekend I'm heading to my boyfriend's parents' house. I love his parents, but his Mom is notorious for cooking delicious, but very unhealthy foods. She has food laid out at every hour of the day (cookies, breads, chips, cheese and crackers, you name it, and I guarantee it's within arm's reach), which is dangerous because I'm a grazer. How can I enjoy my weekend, not insult her cooking, and not blow my diet all at the same time?
—Stuck Between a Cracker and a Cookie

Can you help a fellow FitSugar reader out? Share your advice below.


Join The Conversation
LindsayLou LindsayLou 8 years
This was my question!Thanks everyone! It was a big food weekend (pot roast Friday night, seafood pallella Saturday night and lots of tempting foods in between), but I feel like I had a balanced weekend. I tried small portions of the more calorie laden food and loaded up on veggies and fruits whenever possible. Went on a run and kept some gum with me whenever I had the urge to start grazing. I never felt deprived! As for the mention of the word "diet" in my question...I really don't consider my healthy eating as "dieting". It was just a poor word choice. I know that this is a lifestyle change and once I lose the last 10 lbs I can't go back to my old ways. Anyway, thanks again for all the great advice!
runningesq runningesq 8 years
I think this: I think aiming to eat a "polite" portion of the actual meals is important to build a good relationship. That will not blow your diet, especially if you choose more of the healthier things and less of the fattening, and drink water. Choose what looks most delicious to you, and eat slowly! hit the nail on the head. Aiming to get out of their house often or read a book during meal times makes you come across as an ungrateful - and rude - houseguest. And no, one weekend will not totally derail your diet. Aim to eat small portions, load up on the healthy stuff, and if you can, try to get in some exercise (walking, running).
esweet esweet 8 years
What about bringing healthy snacks to put out with the others? A veggie tray, fat-free veggie dip, whole grain crackers, grapes, fruit...that is what I do when I go to my in-laws, esp. since I know the meal will be on the heavy side. I also offer to bring/make a huge salad, and fill up on that with dinner. Lastly, I'm with the "enjoy a cookie once in a while" camp - I don't believe in depravation and think it only leads to losing complete control down the line...
LemonOut LemonOut 8 years
Some of these suggestions are ridiculous. Bringing a book and avoiding the family's food will go a long way to get you in their good graces, I'm sure. Not to mention, if you have go to such ridiculous lengths to control your eating it suggests a rather dysfunctional pattern. I would recommend being extra good the rest of the week, getting lots of exercise, and eating in moderation at the event.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 8 years
As far as meals go, my strategy has always been to either take small portions of everything, or if you end up with a large portion, make your mind up that you're not going to eat everything on your plate, just because it's there. Eat to where you no longer feel hungry, then stop. For the snacks that will be out throughout the day, decide ahead of time that you can have one snack, and that's it. You will feel satisfied, since you're not depriving yourself, but you will also prevent yourself from totally splurging and overeating.
lemuse20 lemuse20 8 years
"Having a cookie every once in awhile" is exactly how my brother and his gf gained 20 lbs, and they just started Weight Watchers last week... There are so many special occasions or times when you think "oh just this once" and it seriously adds up. However, if ONE cookie means ONE cookie, in ONCE in AWHILE (sorry with the abuse of caps there) then there really is no harm. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for having a cookie, nor let them make you feel bad about not having one.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 8 years
I'm with GlowingMoon too. Oh. I can't be afraid of those 'heavy' food because my mom, my m-i-l are all excellent cooks (my mom owns her own catering business), and they want to 'spoil' us when we have family gathering (which is OFTEN). And mom always cooks something special either for me or for the little son. I have yet to lose another 7 lbs to my goal pre-baby weight, but I never had to miss a family gathering and avoid their food :) while I slowly lose my weight. If you exercise and eat right on a daily basis, just enjoy the food, of course, you don't have to gorge down everything. Just do everything in moderation. Then return your exercise and eating healthier routine the next day . In my experience, your weight still should go down.
HaterTot HaterTot 8 years
Glowing Moon is right on, and did a great job at elaborating on my point. If you have to be super strict all the time to avoid slipping into a downward fat spiral, then you're doing other things wrong. I see so many girls who don't get that their relationship with food and "healthy" living has nothing to do with food, and everything to do with any of a million other issues affecting their self-esteem. It is not healthy to not be able to have a cookie every once in awhile without worrying that you won't be able to control yourself and you'll gain all the weight back. Truly healthy people are well balanced, love themselves, are confident, and know how to enjoy life. The fact that the girl who asked the question even uses the word "diet" indicates to me that she's not on a good path. People who go on "diets" and who don't work on the fundamentals of changing their relationship with food and exercise are going at it all wrong. A healthy lifestyle is a permanent, lasting and all encompassing. A diet - and a strict one at that - is stop gap, and cures symptoms of something else, not the problem itself.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
I'm in the minority here. If you already lost 17 lbs and committed to a lifestyle of exercise and healthy eating, you CAN afford to eat fattening foods for one weekend. In fact, a person like you (who exercises and eat healthy regularly) can handle that food. When Monday arrives, you go back to your normal lifestyle. Chances are, you will still be in route to lose those extra ten pounds (as long as you get back to your healthy habits on Monday). For years, during family and social get-togethers, I enjoy fairly heavy foods. I know I did all my exercise sessions (and ate healthy) that week, and for the upcoming week, and I will do all my exercise sessions and eat healthy again. The heavy food will be burned-up or evened-out by the healthy foods. Likewise, during the holidays, I enjoy the good seasonal foods. I've been a fit, petite size 4 for about ten years now. Seriously, my advice is for you to enjoy the food. I think you'll be okay. JMHO.
ShedItandGetIt ShedItandGetIt 8 years
I think the dilemma two-fold. First, you don't want to insult the family by not eating the food. Second, you don't want to start eating and then not be able to stop! I think aiming to eat a "polite" portion of the actual meals is important to build a good relationship. That will not blow your diet, especially if you choose more of the healthier things and less of the fattening, and drink water. Choose what looks most delicious to you, and eat slowly!. In terms of keeping yourself from grazing, chew gum and say you're full! If you say it out loud, hopefully you'll believe it! If you don't start, you will be fine. This will also give you some wiggle room to eat more at meals without gaining. Hopefully they will see you as someone who eats small portions and only when full and doesn't snack between meals, so you will set that as a standard of your eating habits going forward. I would avoid saying you are on a diet; I think you will be more successful with your weight loss efforts in this situation and going forward if you act as though this pattern of eating is your normal way of eating all the time. It's not insulting; they will just assume you always eat healthy, smaller portions and aren't a big snacker.
geebers geebers 8 years
However on that same note, it IS one weekend and you are trying to get in with his family so I don't blame you for being stressed about this. I suggest you try incorporating exercise because chances are you will eat a bit more than usual. Eat EVERY slowly so your plate is always full and his mom does not keep piling it on. I understand that you don't want to set a precedent of eating so much because as you go on more visits, it will be so much harder to get the family to understand but I can guarantee that if you tell them you are trying to lose weight or eat healthy you will get the standard "oh you are fine" or "it's just one cookie" response so you have to look as if you are saying yes without actually eating that much. And going on walks together allows you to bond without eating.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I'm with the posters that said that "eating a cookie every once in a while is fine" is exactly how we got fat to begin with. If you allow yourself to eat whatever you want on "special" weekends, pretty soon that turns into every weekend, etc. It's more beneficial to you to learn how to deal with situations like this so you can always navigate your way around yummy and tempting foods and keep your weight off. First, I would suggest bringing along some healthy snacks like cut up veggies, pieces of fruit, little baggies of nuts, yogurts, etc. Tell your bf's parents that you thought everyone would appreciate some lighter options as well as the rich stuff. Second, try to keep yourself busy with other thngs...bring a book to read or suggest to your bf that you get out of the house as often as possible so the food isn't always sitting in front of you. And finally, remember that it's ultimately your body, so you have control of what goes in it. If it's insulting to anyone else, just remember that other people should be sensitive to your dietary needs as goes both ways. My mom used to always have really fatty/rich foods for me when I came home to visit, but once she saw that I was losing weight and getting healthy, she started keeping fresh veggies and fruit on hand for me to have when I came home to visit. And I even inspired her to start eating more veggies, so there was a plus side to the situation as well.
komler komler 8 years
I would say bring some sugar-free gum, drink water, or green tea… and try to look for the healthiest options there. It might be smart to tell the mother beforehand, so she'll know it is not her food, but the fact that you're dieting. as a grazer: Maybe also bring some knitting or something to keep your hands occupied? I know from experience that if I'm just sitting there, talking without doing anything with my hands, I'm sure to eat whatever is in front of me, and keep eating. If I have something to do with my hands, the odds are smaller that I'll also eat.
acfreema acfreema 8 years
I'm a HUGE grazer too! When I'm at home I brush my teeth right after a meal so I don't go back for seconds, thirds, etc. On the road, I chew a ton of gum to keep my mouth busy. You may even have to suggest that everyone go for a walk or something if staying in the house is too tempting. Good luck!
jadenirvana jadenirvana 8 years
Well, coming from a food-loving family, I think a lot of moms do cook special foods as their way of showing love, and I do think it's offensive not to eat the hard-prepared food. It can come off as a little ungrateful. I'd compromise and have a little of everything, praise it to the stars, and when she offers you more just say "It was so delicious but I just can't eat another bite! " On a sidenote, I'd say you're lucky. My in laws exist on fiber cereal and I have to pack food in my suitcase when I visit them not to starve to death.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 8 years
My in-laws are pretty bad about overbuying cookies & snack foods when we visit. And we spend so much time just sitting around the house that I find it really hard not to graze out of boredom. I've started packing my own snacks so that if I feel like I really have to have something, I can eat a Kashi bar instead of a giant white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Try bringing something to do to keep your hands busy as well. If you're knitting or crocheting, you can keep up with the conversation but you won't have your hands free to eat. If there's not a lot of conversation, bring books or crossword puzzles to keep your mind off the food.
tessie tessie 8 years
Having a cookie every once in a while is exactly how most of us became overweight. I'm the type of person that a little is never enough, because if one won't hurt that means that two won't be so bad. I know a lot of people who live their life to the mantra of "fat and happy", but after losing 8 lbs in one month of diet and exercise, I'm looking forward to losing the next 8 lbs. It's such a great feeling when your clothes fit better. It does wonders for your outside and inside appearance. Okay I'm done ranting. Back to the topic- my family and my boy's family love food, but when I visit I usually only eat things I know wouldn't do any harm and I eat until I'm not hungry any more, not until I'm full. Also, sometimes when your body thinks you're hungry it's actually dehydrated, so drink water. And if you must have desert, eat a sliver of a sliver. You'll thank yourself later when you can still fit into your favorite pair of jeans.
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
trying to lose weight is a really hard thing to do and having people say to have a cookie every once in a damn while is not helpful advice. That's how we got overweight to begin with. Just because we're trying to lose weight doesn't mean I'm not enjoying life. There's more to life than eating. Anyway, off that rant. I would suggest bringing some stuff. A veggie platter or something you made that's healthy. That way there's always something decent around. Gum and water are good ideas too. and staying busy. Play games, go for walks. etc. you can indulge in something special a little, but just be sure to go for an extra walk or pump up your workout routine a little when you get home. Have fun and good luck
kia kia 8 years
In addition to the sugarfree gum how about water. Water will be your friend this weekend. You may be having to run the bathroom a l ot but it won't hurt to keep guzzling the good stuff down in lieu of eating non-stop. Have a fun weekend and good job on your weight progress.
Chicagomarie Chicagomarie 8 years
I have this problem all the time...I'm a picky eater and one who does not really enjoy food, let alone big meals. I have learned that sometimes you have to "insult" people and put up with comments on what you do or don't eat. Really, I've come to learn, it's my business what and when I eat, and that not eating food at someone's house is not , or should not be, an insult. I came to enjoy the company not the food. It's counter cultural for sure, but embrace it. However, if your fear is you'll be tempted too much, be sure to eat some lean protein and veggies before you go so your hunger will be tamed and you can think with your head not your stomach.
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