This has been a weekend of parties and get togethers. It’s been wonderful to see so many friends and family but with parties also comes lots of food and decisions to be made about what food to eat. My best strategy for this is to make decisions before I go to the party about what I am going to eat so that I can keep myself accountable. Indulging every once in a while is fine and won’t steer me off my path to getting fit and strong but overindulging or binging definitely will. So here they are, my tips for making smarter choices at parties:
1. Don’t go to hungry: This is a common tip but still something that definitely works. Have a healthy snack before you go so you won’t be starving when you get there.
2. Bring your own healthy snacks: I always go back and forth about this one but sometimes, it is just the best idea. I’ve found that no one minds if I do this because really the party is about spending time with one another, not about the food you are all eating together. For example, yesterday I knew I wanted something sweet so I bought my own cupcake from a local bakery that features better-for-you baked goods (free of refined sugar, gluten, corn, soy and dairy) and ate that instead of the cake that was served. I was able to enjoy a sweet treat but felt better about the choice because it was a cleaner version of your traditional cupcake.
3. Decide what is really worth it: For some, it might be a piece of cake while for others, it might be a piece of lasagna. The food items we choose to indulge in will be different depending on what we like the most but choose 1 thing and stay healthy with everything else on your plate. This will allow you to not feel deprived but to not indulge too much.
4. Have some amazing friends: If you’re lucky (like me), you may even have some amazing friends who know about your quest to eat healthy and give you a heads-up about what is being served. When you find these people, hang on to them, they are amazing friends!
5. Practice the 80/20 rule: Make healthy choices 80% of the time at a party and allow yourself that 20% to partake in a food you may not normally eat.
6. Offer to bring something to the party: A lot of times, I will offer to bring a salad, some fruit, veggies and hummus or my healthier apple crisp to a party with me. This way I am sharing something with the other guests and I also know that there will be one dish that I know fits into my meal plan.
7. Remember that it’s just one meal: It’s OK to indulge a little, none of us want to feel deprived and it’s not realistic to say that we will never eat another piece of cake or slice of pizza again. The goal is to make healthy food choices most of the time and to incorporate those choices into your daily life. One afternoon party will not derail your every day healthy habits as long as that one afternoon doesn’t stretch into an entire week.