Fact: Parties, cookouts, and just good ol’ Saturday night shit shows are battlefields for sugar addicts, compulsive overeaters, and food sneakers.
While “normals” (what I call people like my boyfriend who say they “forgot to eat.” Like, WHAT ARE YOU?!) simply gossip about the latest HBO series, pour another drink, and flirt with each other, we food addicts have a big “isn’t this fun?!” smile plastered on our face while inside sounds like this:
“Don’t go for the brownie plate.
Don’t go for the brownie plate.
Don’t you DARE go for the brownie plate!
Okay, just two brownies.
Okay, STOP! Now your skirt is getting tight.
…after a third plate of these tortilla chips and queso.”
What a freaking tragedy that diet culture has so permeated our minds that we dread parties.
Here’s the irony:
Studies have proven connection is the cure to addiction.
processed food addiction,
All of it.
The very parties you dread are fertile ground for cultivating that connection. Social events should and can be a fantastic source of healing.
That’s why I’ve compiled this list of 5 strategies to avoid overeating at parties (without dieting).
I want you to go to the party, Cinderella!
I want you to have your cake and eat it too while wearing your favorite high waisted skirt.
Because that’s all I ever wanted, too!
I know being obsessed with food cripples your social life. I once missed my friend’s bachelorette party because I just wasn’t up to fighting the Food Fight for 3 days. While my closest friends raged at the beach, I stayed locked in my apartment, drinking tequila alone (I have fantastic coping skills). I couldn’t be there for her because my shame ran so deep.
I don’t want another woman to lose another minute to food addiction.
That’s why I’m giving you these 5 strategies to claim your safe-and-sane space while you party your ass off. Hell, Facebook me the invite and I’ll meet you there, sister!
5 Strategies to Avoid Overeating at Parties (without dieting)
1.Prepare with a Base Layer
Make this one of your hallmark habits: eat something healthy before you go to a party. I call it the Base Layer.
It’s kind of a no-brainer – if your biggest trigger is hunger and you’re danger zone is free food, then let’s get rid of the hunger before you enter the danger zone.
You will catch me slamming a smoothie or a bowl of beans and rice before nearly every event, outing, or party I attend. The base layer is like a safety layer, it keeps me from reaching for food impulsively.
Over time, as you establish a nice history of not overeating, you’ll shift into a place of self trust. Once this happens, you may not need to go have a base layer before every social outing. It’ll be your habit to enjoy a normal, satisfying amount.
But until normal eating is your autopilot, use the Base Layer Trick.
My favorite, EASY base layer foods:
- Yogurt bowl (I throw in ½ an apple, diced, chia seeds, buckwheat groats, and cinnamon)
- Baked potato
- Banana and peanut butter (preferably on toast 😉 )
- Rice bowl topped with whatever you have in your fridge
NOTE: In the Party Prep Worksheet, I give you a list a healthy Base Layer ideas for when you’re on-the-go!
2. Bring Your Own Safe Dish
The big issue with parties is not simply that there’s food easily available. We live in the United freaking States of America. There’s an entire grocery store of food open 24hrs mere blocks from my apartment. The food is always there.
The real anxiety over party foods is that often these foods are those we’ve labelled as “bad.”
Chips and dip. Birthday cake. Cheese, and cheese, and cheese.
Are your palms getting sweaty?
When you label a food as bad, you make it your job to avoid eating it. To avoid eating it, you must become obsessed with spotting it. Now the very thing you were supposed to avoid has your full attention.
Let’s reclaim your attention, girlfriend.
To avoid the How Do I Feed Myself Without Actually Eating This Shit rigmaroll, bring your own dish you feel good about eating!
Not only do you now have a confident plan for eating when you get hungry (because let’s be honest – you will get hungry), you also look like such a generous and thoughtful party-goer. That’s how you kill two birds with one veggie dish.
If it’s not a bring-your-own-dish kind of soiree, like a wedding, bring one or two smoothies WITH you and keep them in your car in a little cooler.
I think only remembering a blur of cake, hush puppies, and shame when you think back on your friend’s wedding is extreme.
Stepping out to your car for a minute and sipping down your smoothie ain’t shit.
My favorite, EASY party-safe dishes:
- Bean chili! – It’s stupid easy to make in a slow cooker (throw in beans, water, and a jar of salsa turn it on high for 3-4 hours), makes a large enough serving to share generously, and is cheap!
- Thai Cabbage Salad – cabbage is cheap and just one of the suckers chopped yields have a monstrous sized salad. Top with bell pepper, cilantro, and peanuts.
3. Formulate a response for food pushers
Here’s what you can bet when on going into any party, soiree, barbeque, bonfire, convention, or gathering of any kind:
- Some of your most potent trigger foods will be offered.
- There will (probably) be food pushers and shamers alike.
- Food pushers will INSIST you eat certain foods for them (it’s not a you issue, it’s a them issue).
Prepare your talking points.
Formulating your thoughts, reasons, and responses before you’re on the spot will get the food pushers off your back. PLUS, it forces you to connect with exactly why you are abstaining from certain foods.
I’ve provided a space for you to formulate your responses in the Party Prep Worksheet. It may seem totally goofy to write out a planned response for food pushers, but I promise you it’s the electricity in your boundary fence.
If you’re not connected with your Why, you’re doomed to give in to your addiction. Take the time to formulate your responses.
4. Pre-determine what treat you will enjoy
I refer to this 2014 study often, in which researchers asked French women and American women what word came to mind when they saw a photograph of chocolate cake.
French women’s response: Celebration
American women’s response: Guilt
Guess which nationality of women also reported losing control around chocolate cake and weight gain over 18 months? The good ol’ US of A!
Intending to go through life avoiding treats and indulgences at all costs is not just the exact set up for food binges, it’s also choosing to live a life without soul. What the hell is life for if not enjoying the splendors of the palette in the company of others?
So, party like a French woman.
Before the outing, plan what treat you will indulge in. I provide a space for you to do this in the Party Prep Worksheet.
Decide what treat you will enjoy before standing sweaty palmed staring down the pies, cookies, and truffles.
Do you want a cupcake tonight?
Or is Aunt Kassandra’s homemade baklava calling your name?
Or would you rather treat yourself to a Strawberry daiquiri from the bar?
Precommit, and then savor every.damn.bite. I’ll have one with ya, sister.
5. Choose a small win
For so many women, going to a party tonight in total confidence, unfazed by food, sounds about as plausible as waking up tomorrow a world class kick-boxer.
Listen, honey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Overwhelming yourself with radical change all at once always results in paralysis and self sabotage.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by the whole transformation, pick one small win to focus on at each social event you attend.
Small wins add up to establish a pattern of winning.
A pattern of winning generates momentum toward your goals.
My favorite small win to start with:
Commit to not sneaking food.
Breaking the secrecy around food is one the most powerful starting points. Simply commit that at this party, you will not sneak food.
Whatever you eat, eat it with others, in broad view. No sneaking treats in your purse to eat in the privacy of the bathroom (oh, did you think you’re the only one who did that?) or bouncing between conversation circles to disguise how many plates you’ve had. Commit to not sneaking.
Bonus Tip!: When snack attacks hit…
“Help, I’m spiraling! I’m going to overeat, Laura, I.just.am. What do I reach for?”
Reality Check – sometimes you will overeat at a party. It just happens.
Overeating at a party does NOT make you a failure. It does not somehow “undo” all of the growth you’ve made in your body and life transformation thus far. Everything in your process is just that – part of your process.
So, if the snack attack hits and you make your way mouth-first down the catering table, what strategies will help ease the damage?
Unprocessed > Processed
One of the biggest successes you can have in your diet is shifting your preferences from processed food products to natural, whole foods. Thus, when the snack attack hits, reach for real food.
I totally realize the processed foods offered may have fewer calories! The Ritz crackers may have less sugar than the fruit salad. The mac and cheese may have less fat and calories than the nuts.
But you’re in this for the long game, sister! The long game is to shift your palette to prefer whole foods. That is when the cravings and addiction for processed foods will truly subside and you won’t even need this blog post any more!
Seriously, Download and print the Soiree Success Checklist and Party Prep Worksheet.
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If you want to stop fearing parties, and start having actual fun getting your mingle on, then you’ve got to change your eating habits from the roots up. And that takes action.
The truly transformational benefit of these 5 strategies combined with the Party Prep Worksheet is that they force you to sloooooow dooooown and check yourself.
You are not helpless, doomed, or even alone in your struggle. You’ve got a plan, and you’ve got this entire community of women who get it here to support you.
Which of these strategies do you foresee being the most beneficial?
And which is the most challenging? How can we support you in achieving it? I’d love to help!