@bitchcakesny It's so hard to break that social eating out cycle - so what do you do with your friends instead?My initial response was that I'm actually not very social. Believe it or not, I've been a loner since I was a child and I still spend a great deal of time alone. I think people assume that I live a wild and crazy life, but I really don't. Anyone who knows me will tell you - I'm usually in bed by 10:30 and I often don't socialize (ie: see friends) at night more than once a week - sometimes not at all.
But the more I thought about her question, I realized what a great blog topic it would be because I *did* used to dine out with friends in my eat-whatever-weigh-whatever-and-hate-myself days-
- I used to go to brunch. Often.
- I indulged in pizza and burritos. Especially after drinking.
- I ordered take out. Regularly.
- I went on dinner dates. Weekly.
I engage in those activities now, but only on rare occasions. And they have to be pretty special.
If I do get a meal outside, it's often more functional than anything (say if I'm out all day). And there are only a handful of places I am comfortable going- most of which make the food in front of you (Chipotle, Cosi, Subway). But then occasionally I will treat myself to a local place in my neighborhood with great vegetarian fare (Boneshakers, Papacito's), usually after a big bike ride.
If you are interested, these are the reasons I don't enjoy eating out, after the "food should not be entertainment" theory I subscribe to:
- I don't trust the cleanliness of the food/kitchen/preparer(s).
- I don't want to be subjected to/distracted by/tempted by food.
- I don't like eating while talking (it takes the focus off the food - I feel like dining and socializing should be two separate things).
- I don't like having other people watch me eat.
- I am vegan and health conscious and don't believe there's (for example) no oil or MSG, or I worry that they shared a utensil that touched meat or something else I don't want to ingest.
- I don't like using silverware other people have used.
- I don't want to see/smell meat that other people are eating.
- I know I can make a better, healthier, lower point version of whatever I am going to eat. So why stress myself out *and* pay money for a meal that's not as enjoyable and also higher in calories, fat and points?
- Bars. I realize this may seem counter intuitive to some of you (empty calories? alcohol? but you work out! why do you drink?) I'll remind you that Weight Watchers works to fit your lifestyle. Nothing is off limits. I love beer and I do not deprive myself of it. The way I handle a bar night/event is that I decide ahead of time how much I will drink that night (24 - 48 ounces of beer, max) and I log the points ahead of time. I drink *slowly* and I drink seltzer or water in between sometimes. I also bring my own snacks (most often a banana and almonds) - just in case. I don't always eat them but I like having them with me so I don't end up buying a burrito or other snacks on my way home when I'm buzzed.
- Activities. I like bowling and old school video games, which they just happen to have at some of my favorite bars in the neighborhood. So the focus is not just on alcohol, but you get to do fun stuff and hang out too. But for non-alcohol related activities with friends, I've worked out with them at the gym, biked with them and ran errands or shopped with them. Again, no food involved.
- Parties. I love when my friends have house parties! I treat them the same way as bars - plan the amount of beer I will consume that night and bring my own snacks. Of course if they have some cut up vegetables or something light and vegetarian, I may have some of that as well - but I eat a real meal before I go.
- Transit Adventures. You may not know that I am a big fan of NYC Transit (I have a blog about my commute and transit related adventures, too) and a few times a year, I attend events that the NY Transit Museum offers. I've attended these tours and events with a few different people, as well as alone. Again, no food involved.
If you are trying to get your friends away from the restaurant-as-social-activity cycle, I'd say suggest other things you can do together. Or try to pick a restaurant that gives you the most choices. You can also consider meeting them towards the end of the meal and not being there the whole time. There's always choices and different ways of handling every situation. You just have to think differently.
You may never feel the way about food/dining out as I do and may never want to feel that way, but it works for me. In the end, it's all about finding what works for you. Remember: You always have a choice. Choose wisely!