Eating and socialising

Food gives us what we need to keep our bodies healthy and energised. But it is also an important part of our social lives, whether we are spending time with family and friends at meals and barbecues, or celebrating with treats like cakes. Sometimes we eat a favourite food to reward ourselves.

Even when you have successfully changed to a healthier balanced diet, you may not always feel like following it strictly. This is normal. Everyone enjoys having an occasional treat or meal out. You could try having a smaller portion than you would normally have. But if you are eating well most of the time, you can allow yourself less healthy foods when socialising or celebrating.

Another idea is to have one ‘free’ day a week, when you eat whatever you want. You may quickly find that the healthier you eat, the less you crave the so-called ‘forbidden foods’. Your idea of treats may also change to healthier options.

Fast foods and eating out

Fast food is usually high in energy and fat. If you eat a lot of fast food, it is important to cut down, as these foods can cause you to put on weight.

Try to plan your healthy meals and snacks in advance. This can stop you buying fast food and takeaways at the last minute.

Even when you have changed to a healthier way of eating, there may be times when you want to be more relaxed, and this is fine. You can still enjoy treats or a meal out with family or friends.

If you are having takeaway food or eating out often, you could:

  • look for the healthier options on the menu – these may be labelled as ‘light’ options
  • have boiled or jacket potatoes, without oil or butter, instead of chips or creamy mash
  • ask about the ingredients in meals, or how they are prepared, and choose baked options rather than fried
  • try to avoid bread or nibbles before the starter and main course
  • ask for a standard or smaller portion size and avoid large or super-size options
  • order a starter as a main course
  • have steamed or boiled rice rather than fried rice, such as pilau or egg fried rice
  • choose tomato-based sauces with vegetables rather than creamy sauces
  • order vegetables or a side salad if they are not included with the meal
  • share a main course with someone
  • wait after finishing your main course before ordering a pudding, as it can take time after finishing your meal to feel full
  • order fruit salad or a fruit-based dessert
  • ask for low-fat or low-sugar yoghurt as an alternative to ice-cream or cream.

We have more information about making healthy food choices.

I try and have my five portions of fruit and veg a day, wholemeal bread and things like that. But I eat meat. I use butter. I drink alcohol. And I aim to do those things in moderation rather than give them up.


Back to Healthy eating

Diet and cancer

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and keeping to a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of developing some cancers.

Keeping to a healthy weight

Trying to keep to a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cancer and other health problems.

Staying healthy

A balanced diet will provide everything you need to keep your body healthy. It will contribute to your well-being.

Food hygiene

You are more at risk of food poisoning if your immunity is low. This is because you are less able to fight infection.