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How do you welcome guests? The healthy way or the traditional way?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

We had two nieces of my wife visiting for the weekend. It's a common habit to change eating and exercise patterns when friends come over, and mostly, in a non-healthy way. To make guests feel better, many of my friends bake fat and sugar full cookies, prepare some grandma-favourite full of fat recipe, and skip all the exercise in favour of watching TV together. And beside getting a lot of energy from visiting my friends and family, often I spend the same amount of energy for saying no.

I decided to give it a go, and just do all things - meals, exercise, sleep -, as we would usually do. The healthy way, that I developed during the past years on this healthy lifestyle journey.
I asked my guests about "the menu" on offer, and they were interested to try out.

Some items form our meals:
* Light mozzarella cheese with tomatoes - dinner, starter
* Green leaf salad (see my spark recipes) - dinner, and pre-packed for picknick lunch both days
* Light crock monsieur - breakfast (lean ham, Ementaler cheese, whole-bread)
* Fresh-fruit basket - dinner, starter
* Steamed carrots, wholewheat couscous, low-fat Frankfurter - dinner
* Light yogurt with honey and oatmeal - breakfast
* Warm and Spicy Banana Waffles, served with banana, strawberries - dinner (see Sparkpeople cookbook, with oats, and whole-grain flour)

Other items new to our guests (but regular for me):
* Finn crisps, and puffed rice (instead of braed)
* Smoked salmon and trout (both in Hungary and Austria, fish eating habits are totally low)
* Hummus (rare in Hungary)
* Strawberry-quark mix (for dessert, light, yumm!!!)
* Granola and fruit bars instead of cookies and cake (all high quality and tasty)

Some items from our exercise plan:
Swimming in the local swimming pool (every evening)
Biking to a nearby river (Saturday)
Hiking in the nearby mountains (Saturday)
Big walk, and biking in Graz (Sunday)

Another thing I paid attention to:
Our guests had the right to stop eating whenever they felt they are good. I didn't offer food again, and for sure, I didn't play "you eat my food, if you love me", and especially not the advanced version "you eat a LOT OF MY FOOD, if you really love me".
I also asked them if it is OK if we get up in a way that I can sleep 8h each night, which was OK for them.

River Raba from our trip on Saturday:

The overall feedback was positive. It looked like all food was new to them (they eat very "traditionally" at home), and they liked to discover the new tastes. The exercise part just felt natural, not really as exercise, but "tourist activity".

In fact, this was one of my healthiest weekends in the past months:
- totally healthy food choices, all time within my calorie budget,
- all my exercise needs were fulfilled, burned 2750 kcal during the three days,
- slept each night 8h, I am rested and happy for the start of the week.

How did it all feel?
In fact, just going by "usual things", we provided enough excitement to our guests, so it felt easy, and authentic. We just did what we usually do.
And it turned out, they were in fact happy for the healthy food, the controlled portions, and all the exercise we did.
And we had totally fun.

View from Graz (notice the roofs: traditional houses in the center, "big houses" in the suburbs):

How was it when you last time welcomed friends or family?
How did you organize the meals, and the program?
If you have some good tips, let me know!

* On Friday, when they arrived, we made a short tour in the local supermarkets, and offered them to buy things they need for the weekend, and we usually don't eat (white bread, biscuits, etc.). It turned out, the only thing missing was instant-coffee.
* Great tip to offer my guests to bring their choices they need and we don't have!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Great job. You've given me an idea on how to incorporate healthier foods and lifestyle.
    When I invite people for dinner I usually try to serve healthy, or at the least make lighter healthier versions of favorites. I ask if people have allergies or strong dislikes and work around those.
    We haven't had weekend company in a long time. I feed them what I make for Erik and I, moderately healthy-he's not completely on board yet. If they want stuff I don't buy, I tell them that we can go to the grocery store and they can get what they like. We drink coffee and water most if the time and Erik is a beer connoisseur so he will offer some new brew.
    Last visitors we had I took for a walk around my neighborhood.
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    1774 days ago
    I think that's a great idea and besides it shows that living healthy is fun and not boring as many people think.
    1774 days ago
    I think this is awesome. To bring others along and let them experience your life is opening up more than your fitness lifestyle, but more of who you are as a person. I have to say, this is important and appropriate too -- it's like showing the healthy inside of you as well.

    I very much enjoyed this blog, thanks!
    1777 days ago
    Way to go to stay on track with everything healthy to eat and to enjoy outdoor exercise. Loved the pix!
    1779 days ago
    Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all thank you for the photos they were very enjoyable!
    1780 days ago
    Hi Oliver,

    I love your blog, plus the pictures of the food, and scenery is fantastic! When I have guest in my house I do ask them if they would like to try some of my new recipes I do since I have been changing my lifestyle. They are usually game for it. Then when we go out to eat that gives them a chance to order what they want to eat. They are surprised when I order healthy at a restaurant. I just tell them its gotten real easy for me since I have been on my journey for a healthier lifestyle for a couple of years.
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    Mary Ann
    1781 days ago
    What a perfectly lovely weekend! emoticon
    I have no good ideas, but I love yours! Thanks for the great blog!
    1781 days ago
    Most times I can make traditional foods with the low calorie preparation methods. We eat things like chili or bean soup, grilled chicken, salads, eggs, oatmeal, etc. I keep fresh fruits and vegetables, and other healthy 'fixins' for custom smoothies and wraps available for those who want to make a special snack of their own. I usually avoid preparing some of the more 'exotic' dishes that I make for myself. Many of the people I know (my husband, for instance) seem to still turn up their noses at things like tofu or almond milk, but it is available if my guests want to try it.

    I suggest if there is a food or snack that they can't live without they should bring it with them. I no longer provide ding dongs to ding dongs (naw, I don't say that but it just sounded funny so I wrote it down. However, it is sadly true. I used to be a ding dong with my food choices too.)

    We are country people so hiking, hunting, fishing, biking are always an option for activities around the neighborhood. We sometimes 'work' on our little homestead too. We go out to power walk/shop at the flea markets, yard sales, street fairs or the mall if my guests happen to like shopping . . . and most do enjoy that.

    I am thankful for the education (via TV, internet, etc.) people have now and many people are becoming acclimated to more diverse and healthier food choices.
    1781 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/9/2013 11:57:39 PM
    You are the master. You gave them new experiences and made great memories too. You definitely "sparked" your family!

    My family and friends wouldn't have gone for that. I'm very impressed.

    Great pictures!

    1781 days ago
    Sounds wonderful. I'll be right over.
    1781 days ago
    I tend to serve very healthy food to my guests too. I really appreciate it when I'm a guest in someone else's home and they provide healthy choices to eat. If I serve something like ice cream for desert, I also provide fresh fruit as an alternative if people don't want ice cream. It all seems to work out fine. I don't make a big deal of it, I just do it!
    1781 days ago
    The last time I had my family over I made them spark recipes and just made sure that I made something I knew they would all eat. I don't tell them that it's healthy, and they tend not to know the difference. I also try to get a few munchies that aren't necessarily great for you, but aren't pretzels, crackers, hummus, which isn't hard to get here, no one complains so I think it works. I also make a Spark recipe dessert or two. They are normally great and no one realizes they are eating low fat cheesecake mini-cakes. I like the idea of giving a menu though and seeing if people are willing to try things. It wouldn't work for everyone I know but a great a idea for most.
    1781 days ago
  • AUNTB63
    When we have family and friends over it is not for a few days....just a party type day/night. I make the things I have learned to eat on my journey to a healthier lifestyle. I also offer some traditional foods (brought by others). Most people enjoy the change from the standards and there are always "doggie" bags for any/all left overs. After our last party I was left with veggies and fruits and a couple of turkey Italian sausages ( which I froze for another day). When we are invited over to others parties I always take healthy sides....there are never any leftovers..LOL
    1781 days ago
    That's so great that you stayed with your healthy lifestyle, and shared that with your guests!! Sounds like you all had a lot of fun. :)
    1781 days ago
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