Before entering the beauty world, one of the biggest obstacles to my health/work balance was client dinners and social situations. Fortunately, most of my business meetings are now with beauty and wellness professionals—the absolute masters of healthy eating. But social situations, on the other hand, remain challenging.
For lots of women, social and client meetings are stumbling blocks when it comes to maintaining a healthy drinking and eating regimen: a dear friend of mine recently told me she broke her gluten free/no wine summer diet because of a client lunch she was having with a group of men. She explained, “I didn’t want to look high maintenance when ordering food.”
Summer soirees, post-work drinks, and long social weekends upstate or in the Hamptons are the norm: so how to deal? We reached out to a CB favorite, triple-board-certified nutritionist and health coach Dana James—who advises a few Victoria’s Secret models—as well as trainer Heather Marr, who worked with Tatiana Boncompagni on her story ‘I trained like a Victoria’s Secret Model’ and most recently on ‘I Lost Five Pounds But Gained Ten Years’ for Charlotte’s Book. You get the idea: we asked the bikini body experts exactly what we should be doing during a variety of social situations.
HOW TO DEAL WITH ALCOHOL
This probably won’t come as a complete surprise: even models have a hard time. The first thing Heather told me was “Approaching dinners and drinks in business and social settings can be tricky at first. It’s not always going to be perfect, but there are definitely things you can do in that setting to make it better.”
She advises, “If you are trying to abstain from drinking and are uncomfortable letting people know just fake it, or nurse it. If it’s drinks and mingling and you’re not at a seated event, simply order a soda water or diet coke and ask for lime in a rock glass. This actually looks like an alcoholic beverage.”
From a nutritionist’s perspective, Dana James says “A big fallacy is that wine contains too much sugar; but when winemakers ferment the grape juice, the sugar converts to alcohol. Wine only has roughly about 4g of sugar per serving, which is 1 teaspoon. Pretty much all wine is the same in this regard, so enjoy your favorite—red, white, rosé, or champagne. I think French wines are the best because they usually have the least amount of pesticides and sulfites.”
NAVIGATING THE MENU
The key in dinner scenarios? Be prepared. Heather suggests, “Google the restaurant and know the menu beforehand. Do a little research.” Another great suggestion, “Look for options like oysters (high in zinc and protein) with lemon, shrimp cocktail minus the sauce, white fish sashimi, and lobster. Avoid things like the prepared proteins that have often already been marinated. And you can almost always ask for a side of steamed veggies with your main dish.”
Dana James adds, “If you can steer the choice of restaurant, French and Italian are the easiest, as they offer an array of vegetables and fish options. Indian is the most challenging, because even the vegetables are loaded with oil. If you go Mexican, choose the ceviche.” Vegetables are always the best bet; especially a platter of different vegetables as an appetizer.
Still confused after reading the menu and or don’t have a say in where you’ll end up? “A good standby is Branzino with a side of broccoli rabe,” says Dana, or, worst case, “order a burger without the bun and replace the fries with a salad.”
WHAT TO AVOID
As Heather mentioned, pre-prepared meats that have been marinated—and even vegetarian food at Indian restaurants—can have major added fat in the form of oils. Nutritionist Dana James adds, “If you have a gluten sensitivity, Japanese can be treacherous because many of the dishes are made with soy sauce, which has wheat in it. Wherever you are, don’t assume the soup or salad is healthy. Many vegetable soups are made with coconut milk or a dense nut milk, so ask—don’t just assume they are puréed vegetables.” Another one to avoid? “Salt and pepper squid is just fried squid,” she says.
In many cases, a night out means a chef’s menu—if you feel obligated to participate, don’t stress. Just focus on damage control. Heather explains, “On the next day, you can do a heavy workout with big compound moves like a leg day. Take advantage of the glycogen and train smart!”
The most important thing isn’t to let one ripple in your plans change the course of your routine. “Train intelligently after the meal,” says Heather, “Enjoy it, and move on. Treats should be incorporated in a long term plan anyway.”
NEWSFLASH: EVERYONE ISN’T 100% FOCUSED ON WHAT YOU’RE EATING
Even though you’re focused on what you’re ordering, keep in mind that you’re probably not the entire focus of everyone’s attention. “People are really more focused on themselves,” says Heather, “so even if you order something simple like a glass of wine, you can pretty much walk around all night just holding it and it’s likely nobody will notice.”
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