Be Assertive With Your Food Choices
By Carolyn Richardson
Counting calories is a different kind of animal. It is not dieting. It has no book, celebrity, or strict do’s and don’ts attached. This can make your food choices the talk of the table. On one hand you might hear, ‘I thought you were trying to lose weight,’ and on another, someone could be telling you ‘you can eat this.’ Either way your food choices are your own. Finding a happy medium between refusing food and being assertive about your food choices can be hard, but it’s not impossible. Use these strategies to own your plate.
What Can You Eat?
Try not to create a me-against-you situation. While it’s inevitable for people to ask what you can or can’t eat, you don’t have to give them your daily calorie limit or point out which foods you eat less of. Doing this may make them feel you are judging their plate. Instead, when asked about your eating habits, talk in general about calorie counting. Explain it as a personalized way to enjoy your food preferences and control overeating. Point out that there are no bad foods, and explain how it’s up to the person to choose what to eat. Saying I don’t do this or you shouldn’t have that could lead to a food standoff that feels awkward and can spoil any meal. On any given day you could eat something that’s not exactly the healthiest choice. Counting calories is not about deprivation, but making better choices, so you can splurge at times. By staying in the middle of the calorie counting debate, you won't have to eat your words after explaining specific foods are the devil.
Have it Your Way
Preaching about your food choices is a turn off, but a turn on is ordering food the way you prefer. Don’t settle for being served something without asking for the availability of the best case calorie scenario. Restaurants are known for overdoing it. That goes for portion size, salt, as well as oil and butter. Ask for steamed vegetables, no butter, or less cheese. Whatever could draw down the calorie count or amp up the nutritional value of a meal, request it. If there are options for halving your meal or a smaller version of a dessert, you’ll only find out if you question your waiter. If you don’t get what you asked for, send it back until it’s right. If you attend a get together, ask the cook discreetly about the menu or certain ingredients before the gathering. The only way you will stick to healthier habits is if you speak up and master the art of politely asking for what you prefer. As time passes, people will respect your wishes or remember your preferences when they invite you out.
Some of your best efforts to explain your eating habits will be met with a negative tone accompanied by some form of 'why?' Without apologizing or minimizing your choice, talk about how you feel. It is hard to tell someone not to do something that makes them feel good. Add that you feel this is best. Don't get defensive. Instead simply state that you've made a choice that you're happy with. Try to focus on the positive, rather than bashing your previous behavior. Looking back will only dilute your upbeat message.
How do you own your food choices with a smile?