How To Stop Stuffing Your Face At Parties

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The deadline is looming.

You’re feeling increasingly panicky.

You wonder what you will do, how will you manage.

You’re increasingly twitchy and your palms are beginning to sweat.

It’s no good, you have to go.

And deal.

When you finally enter the room you immediately survey it looking for danger.

You espy the enemy in the corner.

Strong, sturdy, heaving with ammo.

You glance at it but resist prolonged eye contact.

You know where it is.

You tense your body and straighten your back.

You vow to keep away from that mean bully so as not to antagonize it.

Lest it releases its menace upon you.

But after a while you have to go to the bathroom.

The menace in the corner is still there.

You have to pass by.

As you do, you flick your eyeballs over your threat’s solid frame.

And on closer inspection you see things are not as bad.

As you thought.

There’s some friendliness there. A little vulnerability. Quite tasty, in fact.

You waft by, gaze lowered, intent on playing hard to get.

But your mind is intrigued, your defenses lowered.

You think, maybe, maybe… but nah. You pull back.

You’re cool.

Over the evening, you get into the swing of things.

You chat, you drink, you’re having a good time.

You’re still acutely aware of the mystery in the corner and occasionally look over to check the lay of the land.

Still there, still tasty.

You move closer to get a better look. You realize it’s not all bad.

Maybe, maybe, you can flirt a little. Try out a few things, keep things light, just test the water.

So you do. And you know what? Nothing terrible happens. Nothing gets out of control. You stop. You move on.

You show what an empowered, disciplined woman you are.

The tiger has been tamed.

But you don’t move right away.

You hang around. A little voice is telling you this isn’t such a great idea.

But you ignore it.

You like a challenge.

And after a while, danger speaks to you, except it doesn’t feel so dangerous anymore.

You think you can handle it. You start to rationalize.

Because bad boys are always exciting, aren’t they?

So you go for the ride, telling yourself this is fun, it’s just one night. Tomorrow is another day.

And it is.

Except when you wake up in the morning, the thrill of the chase, the ride…

Has evaporated.

Instead, you groan.

So does your scale.

Your boundaries fell away last night.

That wild ride was awesome but now the chicken cream puffs have come home to roost.

On your thighs.

All your hard work over days and weeks, undone.

In ten minutes.

Of carbs, cholesterol, cravings and craziness.

And now you have to start all over again.

Have you been there? I know I have. Many, many times.

The morning after your date with cake is rarely a pretty experience.

The holidays are looming and we all have major feast fests coming up at least once every month.

For months.

And the potential for this overeating scenario to repeat itself over and over is huge!

I have been developing strategies for just this type of situation for weeks in anticipation.

How To Stop Stuffing Your Face At Parties

I had to sit next to these!

At the weekend I tested them by resisting to eat the following:

  • Sandwiches (made with white bread)
  • Scones with jam or lemon curd and clotted cream
  • Chocolate biscuits
  • Victoria sandwich cake with more cream and jam
  • Sausage rolls
  • Banana bread
  • Quiche
How To Stop Stuffing Your Face At Parties

...And this!

The table was heaving.

This food comprised an English tea hosted by two friends and myself. So many emotions and comforting biochemical reactions wrapped up in this food.

I didn’t eat any of it.

A few months ago this would have been impossible for me.

How To Avoid Overeating At Holiday Parties

The guests of honor - they didn't eat anything, either

I would have likely had at least one of everything.

And second and thirds of my favorites.

I would have considered it my duty.

So I want to share some of my thoughts.

But before I do, I would like to make a request.

We are not alone, you and I.

Many of us experience this dilemma and I would love the comments section to become a place of sharing that holds as much value as this post.

Please tell us your strategies for surviving feasts so we can all learn from them – me included!

And then share the post so even more people can chime in.

You will be doing a great things for (wo)mankind.

Truly. 🙂

Here we go…

How To Stop Stuffing Your Face At Parties

Warrior Defense Strategy #1: Play that movie in your mind.

Remind yourself of past situations that have ended up badly.

Analyze them.  Remember what happened just before you started eating.

Maybe you wanted to join in. Possibly you came under scrutiny or received criticism for your food choices.

Maybe you felt guilty for turning down food someone has made for you. Maybe someone acts hurt when you do so, triggering the guilty feeling.

Rehearse these situations and feel the feelings.

And then…

 

Warrior Defense Strategy #2: Plan your tactics.

You know this is going to be a battle so you have to prepare like a warrior.

Before you go, think about what you can do when you are faced with a threat. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Survey the food table, identifying those items you can eat.
  2. Resolve to stay away from the table altogether.
  3. Avoid alcohol because all your good intentions get swept away.
  4. Take a potluck item you can eat so that there is something for you.
  5. Eat before you go so you’re not hungry. Make sure it is something you really enjoy.
  6. Choose people to hang out with carefully – those that interest you, people you know, people who don’t eat mounds of sausage rolls and cake (that used to be me – you wouldn’t want to be standing next to me at a party.)
  7. Know your trigger foods – those that cause your food boundaries to come crashing down if you eat just one bite – identify their location, and stay away.
  8. Give yourself a non-edible treat before you go so that you are relaxed and serene before you arrive.
  9. Plan what you will say when you turn down food.
  10. Come up with some substitutions that you’ll eat if someone makes them for you and contact them to let them know.
  11. Offer to help. Keep yourself busy cleaning up or welcoming guests. Anything to avoid feeling gauche or bored.
  12. Don’t go. I’m serious. Is this something you really enjoy doing? Or is it something you grit your teeth through and you eat as a means of comfort. We all have to go to things we don’t want to go to but some are optional. Is this?

Plan your defense in as much detail as possible.

 

Warrior Defense Strategy #3: Practice your battle plan

Now, think of the party but this time with you successfully avoiding the food. You can do this as you go about your day.

First, imagine the scene you anticipate – the room with the table heaving with yummies, people standing around chatting, you feeling twitchy and nervous, tired of standing, not knowing anyone.

Or maybe you are lively and talkative, impulsive with a dash of recklessness.

Then, imagine yourself using the tactics you came up with.

  • See yourself moving a plate out of arms reach without touching the food on it.
  • Standing in the dining room when the food is in the kitchen.
  • Practice turning down alcohol and asking for a substitute drink – say it out loud, remember the words.
  • Focus on your goals for the event  – to connect with family, to have a good time, or maybe it’s to learn something. Whatever it is, realize food plays simply a bit part, not the lead and there are higher sights to be reached. Make a mindset shift from food to connection.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse until these actions become automatic.

That’s what warriors do, they practice over and over. It’s how they become skilled.

And how behaviors become automatic.

Go over this until you are feelin’ it, baby. 🙂

 

Warrior Defense Strategy #4: Play Your Hand

Go out and do it!

Go into battle, your weapons poised, alert to danger, skillful in defense.

Keep reviewing and analyzing all the while, changing tactics as the battle ensues.

Keep the end game in mind, hold your nerve steady and make your choices with confidence and commitment.

 

Warrior Defense Strategy #5: Be proud

Whatever the outcome, a warrior is always proud. Defeat isn’t an option.

You’re still alive. There will always be another battle to be fought and won.

Review what happened successful or not. Journal, go over in your mind, talk it out.

But however you do it, work out what worked – the words, the gestures, the mindset, the tactic – and work out what didn’t.

Identify the triggers to your downfall if you had one. Identify the trigger item – was it chocolate? Pastry? That pie your Mom makes especially for you?

Then plan for next time. Draw up strategies so when you’re faced with these enemies again, you’re armed.

And ready to pounce!

Life follows the trajectory of a missile.

We have goals in our mind (even if we think we don’t,) we set off and we stray from our course.

Constantly.

Like a missile, we check on our target and course correct to stay on track.

That is how missiles operate. Stray, correct, stray, correct…and eventually, STRIKE!

We’re home.

It stops becoming difficult. Habits become automatic. The cravings are gone.

So even if you feel like you’ve fallen at a hurdle, review what happened and course correct for next time.

Anyone with talent only realized it by practicing and honing over and over.

We can whittle away the bumps and rough edges that cause us to trip and graze our knees to oblivion.

And yes, you can do that too.

Remember the missile.

Stray, correct, stray, correct, STRIKE!

It’s not rocket science. 😉

Don’t forget to show us how brilliant you are! Share your strategies in the comments. I want to add more tactics to my armoury. I’m sure others do too.

And don’t forget to share! There are buttons at the top, bottom and to the left hand side of this post.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Green Bean
Twitter:
September 20, 2011 at 8:53 am

Good for you! I was so impressed by how you only ate the fruit and crisps! Great tips for the upcoming onslaught of holiday get togethers.
Green Bean recently posted..Joining the Dark SideMy Profile

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Alison Golden September 20, 2011 at 9:05 am

I had been rehearsing it in my mind for weeks, GB! Next a trip to the UK for a week – oh my, that will be a challenge.

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Erin September 20, 2011 at 11:34 am

Awesome tips girl. Sadly I don’t go to enough parties to worry about over eating lol.
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Alison Golden September 20, 2011 at 11:56 am

Oh, but I’m sure you have Thanksgiving and Halloween and holiday get togethers, don’t you Erin? You never go places where you have to restrain yourself? Places where you have temptation under your very nose – for hours? If not, you need to get out more 😉

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Erin September 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Ya of course we celebrate the holidays. I’m a stay at home mom to my 1 year old. And sadly due to my disability I don’t get out as much as I would have without it. 😛
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Alison Golden September 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I hope you know I was being tongue in cheek, Erin. I apologize if it didn’t come off that way. The point I was trying to make is that most of us have times when we have to hold our boundaries around food firm even if it is simply in our cupboards. Rehearsing and planning are integral to keeping those boundaries in place.

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Erin September 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Oh ya I knew no worries, just thought my pitiful social life needed a good explanations lol.
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Mary E. Ulrich
Twitter:
September 21, 2011 at 6:05 am

I wish I could go back and undo my food=comfort equation. You give some good defense counter attacks, but unfortunately, even if I was a cardboard face, I think I would still gain weight.

I need some recipes for healthy low everything, that taste good and fill that tender need… or, I guess I could actually get a life and have low stress and exercise and …. 🙂
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Alison Golden September 21, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I understand, Mary, constant major stress like you have makes eating healthy very difficult. Do one thing for me, okay? When you reach for the sweets, combine it with protein – chocolate covered almonds, dessert with dinner not later. Doing this moderates the insulin response and will help. ((Hugs))

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Mary E. Ulrich
Twitter:
September 22, 2011 at 4:21 am

This is why you are so great Alison. You listened to what I said, instead of judging me and giving me the standard response, you come up with something creative like add protein to your snacks, and eat dessert with dinner. These are doable, and chocolate covered almonds–they sound delicious. Thanks, I’m making new resolutions today. M.
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Linda
Twitter:
September 21, 2011 at 7:05 am

Sandwiches (made with white bread)
Scones with jam or lemon curd and clotted cream
Chocolate biscuits
Victoria sandwich cake with more cream and jam
Sausage rolls
Banana bread
Quiche

Whoa–your ARE a warrior woman for walking away from the above-mentioned delectables…Honesty, the only one I would successfully bypass would be the sausage rolls (I rarely eat meat). I have such a hankering for the scones, jam, clotted cream AND lemon curd–gimme it all, baby!

Oh, strategies. Hmm–there’s been a few times in my life where I’m remarkably disciplined with food and usually it’s tied to an event where I want to wear a certain article of clothing.

Like most women, I fluctuate b/w disciplined eating and a workout regime, and then I get stressed, and everything falls by the wayside (except the comfort foods).

Posting pics of fit women on the fridge seems to help. I’m a visual learner, so that tends to stick rather than counting calories.

I like the motto, “Just Do It.” And yes, it’s not rocket science, but good old-fashioned discipline.
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Shay
Twitter:
September 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I have pics on my fridge too. It really works!!!

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Alison Golden September 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm

So are these pictures of you or someone else you would like to look like? I don’t believe in counting calories, more it’s about what calories you consume and eating healthily and moderately. I have trouble with the moderate part and if I have the healthy part wrong as well, oh boy, a train couldn’t stop this vacuum.

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Berna September 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

This tips are awesome, but when I’m in the party? I don’t allow myself craving for the foods, I eat them =)
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Leigh Ann
Twitter:
September 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

I so love going to parties with good snack tables. But yes, it’s a total healthy eating disaster!
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Alison Golden September 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Yes, sadly. I often survey the table as soon as I get there for healthy stuff. And then stick to those. If it’s a potluck, I’ll take something to eat for me. Even if no-one else eats it. 🙂

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Amy ~ Eat. Live. Laugh. Shop.
Twitter:
September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am

You are amazing! These are wonderful strategies for avoiding the over-indulgence of the season!
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Alison Golden September 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Thank you, Amy! Do you have any advice?

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Shay
Twitter:
September 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Wow…you’re just in the nick of time! I went into the grocery store last weekend and saw aisle COVERED with Halloween candy! Lord, have mercy! I was not prepared! I was already hungry so…you know what happened? I bought 2 chocoalte covered marshmellow pumkins. Gosh they were good. lol

But Monday I went to a networking event and I *knew* there would be lots of food and alcohol. I’m not a big drinker so, sipping water is A-ok for me. But food? Honey…fried, sweet, and creamy calls my name when I’m out and about. And seeing other people enjoy it makes me want it even more. So instead of going to the event starving, I ate a bowl of chopped vegetable soup. YUM! It hit the spot. So, an hour later when I arrived at the event, I wasn’t hungry & the food they laid out in front of me wasn’t appealing. The minute I thought “Hmm I wonder how that fried calamari tastes” I did reverse psychology. I said “Ok..you can have some.” Knowing that I fried calamari wasn’t forbidden made say no. Weird, huh? If I had of said “No! Stay away from the calamari”, I would have ate a whole plate of it. But the minute I gave myself permission, I didn’t need it.

I think I’ve found a strategy that may actually work.
Eat first and give myself permission. Hmm…
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Alison Golden September 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Eating first definitely helps a lot. It’s a white knuckle ride otherwise. Before this particular party, I had bacon, eggs and figs beforehand. Yum! I might have to try the pictures on the fridge thing.

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Glynis Jolly
Twitter:
September 22, 2011 at 6:25 am

Why Banana Bread? Sure, if it’s a thick slice but a thin one should be alright because bananas are good for you. They’re better than red meat any day.
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Alison Golden September 22, 2011 at 7:27 am

I don’t eat wheat, Glynis.

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Glynis Jolly
Twitter:
September 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I think it could be made with some other grain, couldn’t it?

I don’t eat a lot of wheat myself. What I usually eat, which isn’t very much, isn’t the stuff that makes white flour.
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Alison Golden September 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Hi Glynis: I don’t eat any grains but I have made a similar recipe with nut flour and ground flaxseed. On this occasion it wasn’t so I couldn’t eat it, unfortunately.

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Bibi September 22, 2011 at 6:47 am

Love your strategies. I will have to add some of them on my list. My number one strategy is carrying a bottle of water and drinking constantly. It keeps me full, hydrated and occupied. I also have a high fiber snack before leaving home to keep my cravings down……and then there are times when I just tell myself “Go For It”
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Alison Golden September 22, 2011 at 8:40 am

Great ideas, Bibi. I’m with you on the water thing. Everywhere I go. Ever since I was nursing, I’ve done that. My water bottles have many an appearance in photos even! 🙂

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Kristl Story September 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Great advice and just in time for an evening in a sky box at the Astros game tomorrow night! Comporate outing, major food!
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Alison Golden September 22, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Ooh, Kristl, those corporate dos are a nightmare and a minefield all rolled into one. Good luck!

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Pete September 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I don’t want to go against the title of the article, but ….

parties are for indulging yourself – so why not stuff your face?
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Alison Golden September 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm

“…parties are for indulging yourself…” Are they? Are they not for connecting with others and generally having a good time with or without food?

“…so why not stuff your face?” Because I, and many other people, would prefer not to end up 20lbs heavier come January.

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Gracelyn October 5, 2011 at 7:11 am

Awesome advice, when I am in a party I allow my self to eat but in moderate amount. For me to taste all the foods that served. LOL!
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Alison Golden October 9, 2011 at 11:17 am

You are lucky, Gracelynn. If I eat something of everything, I can’t control it and just go wild.

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