Challenging Food Situations
What would you do in this situation?
I was at a workshop/networking event this week at an out-of-the-way location with no shops nearby. The food they made available included the following:
- pastries for morning break
- sandwiches, chips and pastries for lunch; and
- 10 types of cake and 2 small bowls of chopped fruit for afternoon snack.
- There were also bags of sweets in every delegate pack.
How would you have handled this?
The beauty of having a very relaxed and mindful approach to eating is that you can “just roll with it” when it comes to less-than-ideal food situations. No bingeing. No guilt.
As I see it, you have four options:
1) You can eat the food.
Your mindset while doing so will be quite revealing though. Some people will be able to eat the food and not worry about it. Some will eat it with reckless abandon because they don’t “allow” themselves these foods very often and may not have them again for a long time. Some people may also continue to binge on foods foods they don’t normally “allow” themselves even after the event, because they figure they’ve “blown it” anyways. Some people may eat the food but feel guilty about it for the rest of the day and then “punish” themselves later by eating “diet” foods they don’t like or working out extra hard at the gym.
2) You can take your own food and eaten that.
Yes, that’s an option. But it also makes you stick out like a sore thumb and people may ask why you aren’t eating the food that everyone else is eating. Interestingly, I noticed even the people who ordered special diets at this event (eg. Gluten free or dairy free) received the same menu (eg. Gluten free cake; sandwiches with gluten free bread) so even that wouldn’t have made a difference in this situation.
3) You can leave and try to find food elsewhere.
This really depends on how long you have for lunch, whether you need to network at the breaks or not and what other food options are available nearby.
4) You can elect not to eat at the event and then find food elsewhere at the first opportunity.
This will depend on how hungry you are and how long the event it.
So here’s what I did…
I always have healthy snacks in my bag so I ate some protein balls before I even went into the event (mostly because I was hungry and knew it would be several hours before lunch). I wasn’t intentionally trying to avoid the pastry but having my own snack ahead of time allowed me to bypass the pastry without a second thought.
I elected to eat the food that was available at lunch. My priority at that event was networking because there were lots of key contacts that I needed to meet. Leaving the event to get food would have therefore run counter to this priority. This also wasn’t an appropriate environment to be eating my own food. I hadn’t brought a packed lunch anyways so that wasn’t an option. But even if I had, eating different food to everyone else just makes you stand out and there were only 70 people in quite a small space so it would have been really noticeable. There is a time and a place for that option, but I elected not to do it in this situation. However, on other days, when I am out and about and have time to eat between clients or meetings, I will almost always take a packed lunch with me so I’m not at the mercy of whatever food happens to be available at the shops nearby. I was hungry by lunch time on this day, so not eating just wasn’t an option either. I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate in the afternoon and the event went until 4:30 pm. Had the workshop finished earlier, I may have made a different choice.
At the afternoon snack, I was a bit hungry. Now I did have some nuts in my bag, but they had Victoria sponge cake available which is my favourite and not something I have very often. So I elected to have a tiny piece of that with loads of fresh strawberries on top. I then had a few nuts on the drive home instead.
I left the sweets at the event. I don’t get any enjoyment from these anyways.
Thinking back, I don’t think I would have done anything differently (although I did make a comment about the food on the feedback from). Unsurprisingly, I noticed I was more tired than usual in the afternoon, likely because my blood sugar levels went up after lunch and then started crashing by mid-afternoon. And by the end of the day I just felt….yuck. But I only go to events like this 1-2 times per month so eating nourishing food the rest of the time just balances that out. If that type of event was a daily occurrence, I would have made completely different choices. I also noticed that when it came time for my evening meal, I was literally craving vegetables which isn’t something that happens very often (I eat vegetables but wouldn’t say I normally crave them). So I just made sure I cooked something nutritious with lots of vegetables and a good source of protein to get my blood sugar levels regulated again and then didn’t give food a second thought.