It’s Not Too Early to Talk About Overeating at Parties

Indeed. In a week, you will likely have a large bowl of candy in your house. From then, it’s one giant slippery dietary slope until MLK Day 2012. So let’s get ready. Here are some things you can do before, during and after parties and other social situations where it’s easy to find yourself on auto-eat.

Two things before you even walk into the party…

1. If you can, work out vigorously an hour or two before. This will put your metabolism into overdrive, so you’ll be burning more of what you eat in the few hours following the workout. A solid workout will also remind you of your commitment to doing right by your body. Which brings us to point #2…

2. Set the intention consciously before you walk into the party that you’re going to stay in tune with your body, take care of it, and be aware of when you need to slow or stop eating. This is just putting the fine point on your willpower.

Thankfully, this isn’t all about willpower. The next few strategies are about shaping your environment to make it easier to stick to your guns.

Some of these are harder to pull off if you can’t choose the size of plate or what is served. If you can control those things, do it! If you can’t, make up other rules and structures to keep yourself on track. Be creative, put yourself in charge. Remember, you’re the one who decides what you eat and how much.

  • Stay the hell away from the stuff. This can take several forms. If you’re at a cocktail party, don’t stand at the food table. If you’re getting candy for Halloween, get something you yourself don’t like.
  • Use a small plate. It’s true- you really will eat less.
  • Use a big glass. It keeps your hands full and busy. Alternate a glass of water with every glass of wine, beer or spirits.
  • Eat and drink slowly. Be mindful. Enjoy it. This is when you remember the intention you set before you walked in.
  • If at a buffet, take only two things at a time. Scout out the whole set up and choose two things that look good. Come back later for two more.
  • With appetizers, if there are just a few, have one of each and draw the line. If there are several, maybe you’ll just sample half of them. Shop around, say no when they’re passed the first time. Surely they’ll be passed SEVERAL more times. By then, you’ll have heard what’s good and can opt for those.
  • Choose vegetables (for their fiber) and lean proteins over grains, pastas, breads.
  • Find a dessert partner and share one. Or immediately cut the dessert in half so you have a clear not-eating boundary and the whole thing doesn’t keep staring you in the face.

After the party, later that night or the next morning: Assess! Preferably while putting your body into some kind of vigorous motion. Did you stay in tune? If you didn’t, that doesn’t mean you’re out for the season. You just need to refine your strategy. What was the culprit? How can you tweak your environment to deal with that at tomorrow night’s party?

One thought on “It’s Not Too Early to Talk About Overeating at Parties

  1. Good points. A couple other things I do: I’ll eat an apple or a hand full of almonds before I leave for the party so I’m not starving when I arrive. Also, as soon as I’ve had a couple things to eat, I’ll get away from the buffet table to socialize away from the sight of the food. It’s less distracting that way. I’m there for the socializing, not the food, after all.

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