How to Eat “REAL” at Social Gatherings

Do you ever feel like you have to choose between fellowship with friends and family or maintaining your dietary preferences? Does it seem unfair that every social situation revolves around food that you can’t (or aren’t willing to) eat?

In her guest post below, Heather Smith shares with us a few of her tips for handling these situations. So what about you? Have you ever encountered this dilemma? What tips do you have for dealing with these situations? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below….

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“Chances are you have a group of friends that like to meet up every once in a while to socialize and catch up, however not everyone shares the same “real foods” lifestyle that you do. This doesn’t mean you have to skip out on the next hang out session, it’s learning how to make do with what you have and work it so that you still stick to your choices:

  • Eat beforehand: Sometimes it is just easier to plan ahead and decide to eat beforehand. The main reason you are meeting up with your friends is to enjoy their company and talk. Eat a solid meal before you meet up and sip on some water once you arrive. Plus, it saves money!
  • Modify: Find out where the meeting place is and view the menu beforehand. Try to find something on the menu that would be easy to modify to fit your specifications and needs. Most restaurants are happy to please their customers by doing so.
  • Host it: Instead of going out to meet, offer to host a get together at your own home and provide the food. Hosting the get together will help you have full control over the menu and what is being served. You may have a mess to clean up afterwards, but definitely a mess you are willing to make.
  • Pick it: Throw out some suggestions to your friends of places that you like and that they may like. Chances are if you are the first one to give their opinion the faster everyone will be on board with your idea.
  • Pot luck: Another way to ensure that your diet is not being tainted, offer to go pot luck at your next gathering. Not only is this helpful to the host but it’s a fun way for everyone to get involved. Be sure that your dish is hearty and plentiful.

Eating real in social gatherings is really easy; it just requires that you plan ahead. Find out the location beforehand and view the menu or offer to help host or bring a dish to the next hang out. Remember the real reason you are meeting up with your friends and don’t let the food waiver your decision to see them. Have fun catching up and enjoy!”

Author Bio
Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to service by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at]

“Living Abroad: My Personal Revelation about Real Foods”

In the guest post below, Mariana Ashley shares with us her story of how it took living in another country for her to truly understand what it meant to eat a natural diet composed of REAL foods – – truly real foods; not the pseudo-“natural” processed stuff promoted by much of the American food industry.

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“If you live in America, you know how difficult it can be to maintain a diet completely composed of whole, unadulterated foods. Of course, the slow food, green movement that’s blossomed in America over the past decade or so has made it easier in some ways, but there’s just as much marketing of supposedly “healthy, natural” foods that has served only to confuse consumers who want to live a genuinely natural lifestyle.

After years of subsisting on American staples, eating fast food several times a week, going out for dinner, etc., my mother tried to switch things up by committing to natural, organic foods. Unfortunately, most of these foods were processed and packaged, and they paid only lip service to natural foods. If it was labeled natural, organic, or diet, my mother–God bless her–just assumed it was healthy and wholesome.

It wasn’t until I studied abroad in Russia my junior year of college that I realized what it means to actually consume “real food.” Of course, don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of McDonald’s and other American fast food chains in Russia, and there were lots of food items at the grocery store that were far from being healthy or unprocessed. But in Russia, especially outside very urban areas, eating whole foods is far from being an expression of trendiness as it is in many parts of the developed, Westernized world. It’s just a fact of life.

Grocery stores in Russia are very unassuming places. Most of them are the size of convenient stores in America and carry only the essentials, like milk, eggs, cheese, a few selections of meat and produce. If the vegetables and fruits are not in season, they don’t carry them. For most items, there are only two or three brands available at the most. Some items, like milk, had only one choice. The simple, red-and-white label read “Milk.” No skim, no two percent, no brand label with pictures and marketing. Just milk.

For someone like me, who is completely overwhelmed by the overabundance of brand choice in your typical American grocery store, going to a Russian grocery store became an actually enjoyable experience precisely because of this simplicity. Look at your typical grocery store item in Russia, and you could bet your bottom dollar that the number of listed ingredients could be counted on one hand.

Most Russian families make quick trips to these grocery stores. When it came to purchasing items for making full-fledged meals, it was off to one of the many outdoor markets, which is an experience in and of itself. The Russian family I lived with loved food and loved the bonding experience endemic to meal times in your typical Russian home. I’d never experienced anything like it.

In America, it almost seems that families eat together out of a certain sense of anxiety about the breakdown of family values. Children and teens in America cannot wait to leave the table and get on with their lives on their cell phones or televisions. In Russia, at least in my experience, the whole family, both young and old, genuinely enjoyed meal times. There were always several courses, dessert, beer, wine, or vodka for the adults, free-flowing conversation, banter, joking—in a word, joy.

And it was through this experience of living abroad in a culture that doesn’t fetishize real food but actually and truly enjoys it—partly because they don’t really have much of a choice–that I learned to embrace whole foods. I’ve carried with me this Russian gusto for real food and meaningful conversation, and it’s truly changed my life.”

About the Author

Mariana Ashley is a blogger and freelance writer, whose posts offer a college guide and news for prospective students and parents. She also enjoys writing about sustainable living, parenting, personal finance, and more. She welcomes comments via email at

“COMPLETELY NOURISHED” COMMENTS: “While I do enjoy eating a meat-filled diet, I can appreciate the important points made in this article – I think they apply to anyone, vegan or not. What do YOU think about how much we should be concerned with our diets? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.”  🙂

How to find REAL FOOD at the supermarket!

I don’t necessarily agree with every little arrow in this flowchart below from, but I definitely thought it was a cute and entertaining way to depict some tips on finding real food at the grocery store. LOL!


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