Being social and calories

I love food, alcohol and sharing it with people. But can one be a healthy fit hedonist?

dinner with friends, a lot of food and alcohol

"I had a few month free from 'feeling fat' but indulgent holidays and weekends away ended up in a significant weight gain. My jeans are way too tight and it makes me feel bad. The problem is I can’t drastically reduce my daily calorie consumption because I’m still eating to train, and I train quite a lot. I know the obvious solution is to be careful with sugar - aka deserts and alcohol - when I go out. All should get back to normal with time. But I’m not patient and I have a lot more social weekends planned. I guess the learning curve is to bring moderation into the holiday spirit…"

This is what I wrote last October. We are now in February and I am still facing the exact same problem. The "Christmas fat layer" is difficult to shed and even if I'm getting there, my weekends away and other social gatherings are making the process a lot more difficult.

Nutrition on my own is way easier to control than in social situations. At home I have established healthy habits and what was hard at the beginning is now my normal diet.

Eating outside is a different matter and keeping a reasonable calorie intake is made more difficult by a number of things.

Food diversity

I love food. All sorts. And because I won't ban things that make me happy, I will eat things I really fancy if they are accessible. The problem is that the outside world is full of high calories food waiting to be eaten. Yummy treats I would never store at home not to be tempted. Delicious dishes I wouldn't know how to cook anyway. Exciting and unusual food is on display, offered, sometimes even pushed in social situations. It is difficult to say no. It wouldn't be too bad if it wasn't that often (do I need to be less social then?) or if I could master the art of moderation.

Moderation and I are still trying to be friends

Most times, once I start eating not-so-healthy food, I find it incredibly difficult to stop or even damage control, despite my best will to stop digging (I will refer here to this on point article by Nia Shanks One Simple Hack to Stop Screwing Yourself Over ).

First law of holes: when you are in one stop digging

The "somebody else cooking" factor

If you eat at somebody's house, you can't always choose to be picky and have a meal matching your usual diet. You have no control over the ingredients or the amount of fat they are cooked in. The only choice still in your hands is the portion size, and if it's a "I'm so hungry I would eat two plates of vegetables" day, it is going to be difficult to keep the appetite under control.

Eating at a restaurant there is a bit more choice, but to be very honest between picking whatever the "healthiest" dish is on the menu and something I really fancy, my choice is made. I'd rather spend my money on something I enjoy.

But in the end, having indulgent meals from time to time (even a few times a week) would be ok if not added to our sneaky little friend, companion of all social meetups:


We all know the sad truth. Because alcohol is made from sugar or starch, it contains a lot of calories, and as if that weren't enough, those calories have no nutritional values (not even the nutrients contained in their junk food calorific equivalent in the image below).

Calories of drinks vs food: how many calories are you drinking?

In our culture, drinking is part of our daily life. I'm not saying that one can't be social without alcohol, but it is very intertwined with social interactions. It is associated with sharing, celebrating, partying, comforting, chilling out…

meme: I suggest we drink before we go out drinking

I really noticed it while doing Dry January, because I had to say no every single time I was going out. Being social without drinking was hard. It made me more aware of how much we drink and how completely normalised it is.

I won't quit drinking for the same reason I have no forbidden food: it would go against my hedonistic principles. But for alcohol to be part of a healthy diet, I will try the same approach as I took with not-so-healthy food: Have it when I REALLY want it and I know I am going to appreciate it, not just because it's there, offered or pushed.

And obviously, keep on trying to make friends with moderation.

Who's this "moderation" people keep telling me to drink with?

The goal of being a healthy fit hedonist is not an easy one to reach, but so far progress have been made and it seems possible. I'll drink to that (≖ᴗ≖)

#nutrition #mindset #alcohol #balance