How to Navigate Social Gatherings when Quitting Sugar!

We all know how this story goes; You decide in the heat of the moment to make a change in your life, take on a new healthy lifestyle and you are feeling strong and committed. Then out of the blue comes an invite to a friends birthday party and BBQ. Everything that you are trying to avoid will be there, and it is going to be hard to avoid!

Baby Shower Buffet

So how do we navigate these social interactions while truly trying to change our lives?

How to navigate social gatherings when you are quitting sugar is tough; from people’s opinions on sugar, health and diet there will also be foods that are on your banned list and foods that you may not even know would have sugar!

So how do you deal with this – what do I say to people I am quitting sugar?

How about if you said “Oh no thanks, I am on a diet” and then be rebutted with “but it was made with low fat X, Y or Z”.

You could even try the honest route and tell your host “I am quitting Sugar! It looks delicious but I will have try something else” and to be faced their shocked expression and then a barrage of questions such as “why on earth would you do that?” or worse still “but I made this cake especially for you?”

Quitting sugar and sticking to your goals is sometimes very hard for people to understand, but you need to be aware that they may not understand the damage of sugar and how much you really want to change your life.

Many people deal with these new lifestyle changes by simply avoiding the potential awkward situations by turning down invitations while they are in their first few weeks of quitting sugar. Try emailing the person who sent the invite and let them know that it sounds like a wonderful gathering but you are making big changes in your life and the food may be a temptation and you want to make sure you achieve your goals.

If you are unable to avoid these social functions, a tip could be to explain about your lifestyle change to the host and offer to make a plate or two of sugar free desserts that you are happy to eat and provide for others. You know the host will make wonderful foods but you want to make sure you make the right choices.

Make sure the closest people around you know that you are making this change in your life and that you are committed. Let them know you want them to support your choices and your new ideas, even if they may not understand. You are going to make hard choices about what food you can eat, which may also affect the kind of food you cook.

Let everyone know so they can be there for you and most importantly, can help you if you make a mistake. Don’t let people make you feel bad if you slip up or just want a break, but own the choices you make in front of people and remember that every day will be a new day and you can continue on even if you slip up!




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  1. Thanks for posting this! I’m 15 and just decided yesterday to kick my sugar addiction (for about the twentieth time, I might add!). One of the reasons that I’ve failed so many times in my quest to quit sugar is just like what you said: I’d get a birthday invite, or go out with some friends, etc. I would find myself weakening “just this once” because it was a “special occasion”. I will definitely try your advice of telling people about my goals, because that will kind of solidify them for myself.

    • Great news on trying to quit again. It is hard and especially at your age where it feels like there is so much pressure amongst friends. Keep focussed and let your friends know whayou are trying to achieve and why. Explain the benefits if reducing sugar and why you can see the positive effects.
      It won’t be overnight but controlling the food you and drink is a huge step forward.

      Good luck and I am here if you need help along the way.

  2. Hi… I’ve tried other times to quit sugar. I find a lot of success at parties and functions by saying that “My doctor told me to avoid sugar.” People have more respect for that than saying I am quitting sugar. It works well.

  3. Leonie Dover says:

    I am also 15 and I am going to quit sugar on Monday after an easter egg binge. I have gained a hell lot of weight from sugar and I have anxiety and I am very moody and aggressive and anxious because of sugar and I get cravings for more,

    • At 15, this is a great time to begin making good choices about the food you eat. Always go slowly at first to see how your body reacts. If you are feeling moody and agressive, you could consider speaking to a trusted friend or family member and get their help along the way. If you do feel like you need to “reset” you eating, try going to clean foods and lower sugar levels too. Always remember if you have any reactions to new foods or a drastically changed diet, go see your doctor.

      • Ellie king says:

        Hi Kate I found your website really useful. I’ve dramatically changed eating and lifestyle and have quit processed foods and sugar and I’m in my 9th week! I’m doing really well and happier with the way I feel and like you now see food as a way to look after and nurture my body rather than a traditional “diet” that is all about depriving things.
        My question is I’m finding it quite difficult socially as I’m dating at the moment and I feel a bit embarrassed about telling men or making a fuss about it.The going out for meals isn’t too bad but the pub and bar dates are. I’ve never been a lover of drink anyway so I don’t miss alcohol I drink 3 litres of water a day now but would feel stupid ordering a water in a bar on a date. Do you know any low sugar drinks options or have any ideas?! 🙂

        • Hi Ellie,

          Congratulations on all your hard work!
          I find social gatherings HARD to this very day! Sometimes I am good and other times I slip up – Christmas is hard in my family.

          As for dating and going out, it has been a while since I did that in my old age, but I never usually tell people that I have quit sugar or that I am on a specific diet. I try to find things on the menu that I can work with, such as entree cheese platters and big salads I can have. If someone asks me why I am being picky or just not ordering straight from a menu, I happily tell them I am avoiding too many processed foods and sugars so that I can live a long happy life. Most people can understand that outlook!

          As for drinks and going out to a bar, I tend to drink soda water with a slice of lemon or lime in it. It looks like a cocktail but it isn’t. If I am going to drink, I prefer vodka in soda water, but that may not be everyone’s preference. Red wine is lower on fructose than white wine, so have a glass of that and switch up between alcohol and water.

          Sarah Wilson has a great guide here too –

          Overall though, while doing the quit sugar program, just skip the drinks for the duration and then when you have finished look at introducing some alcohol back in if you like. Fake it with the soda water and a slice of lime – people will think it is vodka!

  4. Hi Kate,
    My name is Goran and I think if I were addicted to cocaine I’d have an easier time breaking the habit. For me it is not just in the social gatherings that I feel like a slave to the sugar, but rather everywhere and all the time. Sugar and all its evil minions (white rice, flower, white bread etc.) have a strong hold on me. If fact, I have an almost unshakable emotional and a very visceral connection to the confection Devil. It is my go to in times of stress, celebration, accomplishment, desperation, well, pretty much any darn time. When I bite into a sugary, flakey, fluffy, Bavarian Cream filled doughnut, or scuff down a sleeve of thin mint cookies, all my senses go haywire and I feel like the hand of God reached down and just gently scratched my back. I feel like all is right with the world, for that one tiny space in time.
    To put in mildly I need A LOT of help.
    Like many others I have been yo-yoing from sugary diets to sugar free foods, but as the yo-yo commands, I always listen politely and return back to my original state of being the nice little sugar slave that I am. Like you may have already gathered, I am trying to get back on the wagon again, but somehow my first step to get on it just seems like a mile away. My first thought is a negative one, “Why even try, when you KNOW where you’ll ultimately end up?!” I know, I know, awful thoughts of self-sabotage before I even start, but the like I told you, The “Devil” is strong with this one. So back to “needing help!” agenda.
    One thing that you should know about me is that I am a runner, and I am very active. Well, was very active, up until a month ago. The winters in MN are very harsh and I have craved a break from running for a long time. Prior to my little 1 month hiatus I have been pounding the pavement 6-7 days out of the week logging 50-60 a week. Life was good and my weight stable at a decent 165 lbs at a 5ft 10. Now that I have been very stagnant, with my unchanged poor eating habits, I am gaining some of my unwanted weight back. ‘Tis the time for a change, but rather than fall back onto the notion that “as soon as I get back into the routine of running, the weight will come off” I want to try to kick my sugar addiction and become free from its clutches for good. This way the Yo-Y0 effect is broken, and even if I stop running for a while, I don’t turn into the Michelin man within the drop of a hat. My hope is that you might have some magical wisdom that I haven’t heard before that can nudge me in the right direction.
    with kindest regards

    Sugar Fiend, I mean Goran

    • Hi Goran,

      Wow that sounds like a tough one! I don’t think there IS any magical wisdom I can give you. I think I can tell you what everyone else has told you – it is hard.

      My practical advice is to take it one meal at a time and one day at a time. Try cleaning up your worst meal first – make sure you are exploring whole foods and wide range of food types. Don’t restrict fruit or attempt a hardcore approach of going cold turkey. It won’t last and you won’t have learnt anything. You want to learn to eat a wide variety of foods and do some serious meal planning.

      Try that approach. Meal planning could be key. You clearly have dedication and stamina – you’re a runner! You can get yourself up and out of the house to do some exercise (I wish I could do that!!!) but your diet lets you down. So meal plan – set up a week of breakfasts, snacks and lunches. Buy a meal plan online and follow it. Though you will need to change your diet again when you start running, you will need more fuel for that so you might need to buy a runners meal plan guide.

      If you have a plan, you sound like you can stick to it. If you have cheating times, like someone brings food to work, don’t eat any. Eat some carrot and cheese instead, have a big glass of water and then make a cup of tea and walk away.

      When I eat emotionally it usually comes from a place of where I am bored. I had to realize every time I went to grab something sweet, I was bored.

      Watching TV – bored then eat. Using the computer after dinner at night -bored then eat. 3pm at work – bored then eat.
      I had to identify that the problem was is I was bored! How did I fix my boredom?? I couldn’t up and quit my job, so I made sure I did something different. I talked to different people at work, I read the news and went and had a chat about it, I tried to connect with more people. I went for a walk and listened to a podcast for 10 minutes. At nights I try not to sit around and watch boring TV. I turn the TV off and read a book, call a friend, go for a walk, play a game just do something that is not sitting around.

      I do a lot of self identification. I ask myself before I put food in my mouth: am I hungry? am I bored? why am I eating this and do I really need this and is there a better option here? Usually I can get out of eating something or feeling forced to eat something if I make myself aware of my choices. If anything, I will take a cup of tea or coffee over a cupcake at work. I will eat some fruit before I eat a piece of cake. I find a better choice. Sometimes there isn’t and I have nothing and it SUCKS. BUT, I do it. I walk away feeling better at myself than if I did eat something and I would feel terrible.

      I am not a nutritionist or a doctor, so you can always see one in your area for further advice and a more tailored approach: ( I have no affiliation and just googled this!)

      You can do this and this is a slow process. This is a journey and you have a lot of life left to live, so don’t hate yourself if you make a mistake. Just get back to the beginning and keep going. You eat a donut, it doesn’t mean you have failed. It means that you need to not eat anything sweet for the rest of the day and focus on your whole foods and to stick to your meal plan. You can’t fail if you are constantly working on your diet.

      I am still working on my diet and my life. It never ends! I had a great day yesterday and I know today will be a good day today. I have my meals ready to go and I know what I will eat. Nothing is left up to chance for me or I will go stupid and eat the worst of the worst! But if I do make a mistake, I will still be overall ahead and will focus on the next clean meal I will eat.

      Go for it Goran, we are all there with you!!!!!!!!! Small changes every day!!!!

  5. snowbunny says:

    I’m sixteen and just decided to quit sugar. I’m scared but your website is so inspiring and helpful. Thank you!