Healing and cleansing the body takes a lot of work. It requires time, dedication, and sacrifice. Most of us didn’t grow up eating fresh, raw, organic fruits and veggies, or taking herbal supplements, which are key in detoxification. So, this way of life can present some serious learning curves!
One of the biggest hurdles for myself, and my clients, is learning how to stay in a place of detox while still enjoying social outings or spending time with loved ones. Unless you are one of the rare and lucky few whose friends and family also eat raw vegan, you’re going to have to navigate the emotional and social complexities of going against the grain. Since most social gatherings centered around food, and generally unhealthy food at that, it can be difficult to stick to your dietary commitments.
Too often, I see people who are new to the detox game isolate themselves out of convenience. Yes, it’s typically much easier to just stay home, where you can prep and enjoy your raw vegan fare without having to explain yourself. It’s also easier to insulate yourself in your kitchen, and never have to plan ahead, or put yourself in the line of temptation. However, we humans are social creatures (even introverts like me), and it’s neither healthy nor sustainable to avoid other people or places for long periods. It’s one thing to stay home for a 3-day juice cleanse, but a whole other dilemma when you live a detoxifying lifestyle all year round.
So, how can we keep the promises we make to ourselves, to eat raw or high-fruit, and take our herbal supplements, and still enjoy quality time with our friends and family? Here are some tips that I teach my clients, to navigate this common problem:
1. Find non-food-focused activities
Meeting at a restaurant or bar has become a social default, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to spend time with people. If you have a say in the matter, try suggesting activities that don’t revolve around food. You can catch up with an old friend by walking around a park, taking an art class, enjoying a nature hike, or another type of social outing. If this is a close enough friend, you could offer to come and help them around the house – painting, de-cluttering, organizing, or children’s play-dates will bring you closer, without food-related stress.
2. Speak up for somewhere new
Depending on where you live or work, there may be a few spots nearby that offer raw vegan options, and it never hurts to suggest them. If you’re in a larger group, it may be harder to get people on board, but it’s good to at least make your voice heard. And if you’re meeting a friend, invite them along, saying something like “I’ve been wanting to try this new place for a while – would you be up for joining me?” People rarely venture outside their comfort zone, and in some cases, they may be open to something new. Places with fruit smoothies, juices, and salad buffets are safe bets for most of us.
3. Check out menus ahead of time
In today’s modern age, it’s pretty easy to scour a restaurant’s website ahead of time, to look at their menus. If you know that you will be meeting people at a particular place, I always suggest checking out the food and drink options before you go. Sometimes, you can find a dish or two that is raw, or vegan, or could be modified to be that way. Make up your mind on what you will order, before you get to the restaurant. If you’re still uneasy, you can call ahead and explain your situation – often, restaurants will try their best to accommodate you.
4. Eat before you go
Not as fun of an option, but an effective one, is to simply eat before you go out. Fill up on all the delicious raw fruits and veggies you want, then go out and be fully present for your loved ones. When you’re full, focused, and riding high on healthy foods that your body loves, you will be better able to resist temptation. Much of the time, especially in larger groups, people won’t make a fuss of you not eating, and you can be free to socialize without the stress.
Fasting can be a great tool along the detox journey, if used correctly. For some people, planning a day of fasting to coordinate with a social outing makes more sense, and removes the awkwardness altogether. Fasting while out and about can be incredibly simple – you can sip on lemon water or Herbal Tea, and keep your attention on the conversation instead of food. This is a huge mental switch, from not eating because they don’t offer anything you can eat (feeling left out, miserable, and dis-empowered), to intentionally fasting for your health (feeling strong, present, and empowered.)
Side note: if you’re new to fasting, make sure you work with a qualified coach or practitioner before you attempt it.
6. BYO if possible
It can feel a little awkward at first, bringing your own food into a restaurant, but I’ve never encountered any major issues doing so. While most places can offer raw vegan salads, there are almost no good choices for dressings! Same goes for dips, toppings, and other condiments. Consider bringing your own, in a tightly-sealed container, so you can get the most enjoyment out of your food.
To share or not to share?
Talking about our food choices has become an almost political act nowadays. Many people aren’t comfortable talking about why they eat the way they do, for fear of judgement, unwanted opinions, or being ostracized. Understandably so! Speaking up as a vegan, a fruitarian, or raw foodie sets you apart from the crowd, and this can be uncomfortable at times. But depending on your audience, you may gain more value from sharing than from staying silent. It’s all about the words you choose, and how you approach the conversation.
Food is deeply entwined in our culture, and everybody has their own opinions and feelings on it. So it’s best to speak from your own truth, and share why this way works for you, otherwise you may come off as preachy. You can share as much or as little about your healing journey as you wish, and emphasize that this way of eating, or these herbs, really help you feel your best. If you communicate in a way that is respectful, doesn’t guilt or pressure anyone, and clearly explains what you gain from your dietary choices, most people will be intrigued rather than defensive.
It’s not always easy, living a detoxifying, healing lifestyle. But if you’re committed. and you can plan ahead, you can enjoy success without sacrificing your social life. And hey, you never know who will be inspired by you, and want to know more!