Once I’d committed to my food and exercise plan and had strategies in place, I had no idea that one of my biggest struggles would be learning how to attend a family party and stick to a meal plan. People who love us always have the best of intentions. What I have found is that they don’t realize the things they do or say that can make it more difficult to stay the course. Other people are the biggest hurdle for someone working to lose weight, but there are steps we can take to better stick to a plan.
1. How to Attend a Family Party and Stick to a Meal Plan: Use a “Cheat Day”
My personal trainer, Steve always reminds me that the best balance for a healthy life is to do what is healthiest for you at least 80% of the time. By this calculation, one day per week (at most, one meal per week is even better) of just not worrying about your food rules isn’t detrimental to your health goals.
If the stress of answering judgmental questions or being told to “live a little” when turning down treats that aren’t supportive of your goals is just too much, plan your week around the event in question.
When an event is coming up where you will be around people who are less-than-supportive of your way of eating, simply stick to your meal plan the rest of week and don’t worry about it during the event.
2. Fill Up First
Here’s the thing. Using one cheat day is all good and fine, but what about those weeks with multiple events? Monday is the office barbecue, Thursday is your monthly girls’ night with college friends and Saturday is Cousin Bob’s big birthday bash.
When all these days become “Cheat Days,” suddenly your hard work from the rest of week and even the month get washed away. This is when other choices need to be made, and it’s time to learn how to attend a family party and stick to a meal plan.
A simple option is just to be sure you don’t arrive to the event hungry. Cook yourself a healthy meal at home so you can spend your time at Cousin Bob’s birthday party socializing and enjoying time catching up with family instead of worrying about the food being served.
3. Avoid the Dessert Table
Chances are, there will be some kind of food at the event that fits into your meal plan. Or, maybe the you’ll luck out and it will be a potluck. Then, you can just bring your own food to ensure there will be something there supportive of your goals.
In either of these cases, load up your plate with the good stuff. Then, politely decline when the cake comes around and stay away from the table with all the cookies.
4. Avoid the Topic of Food
The main issue, though is that making the healthy choice is usually the easy part. When someone notices what you’re doing and makes a comment, it’s just as easy to give in. You feel put on the spot, embarrassed even.
In these situations, do all you can to steer conversations away from food. Everyone has an opinion and everyone feels that they know what is healthiest for the general population.
The truth is, if what you are doing is working for you and satisfying your own nutritional needs, that’s all that matters. So, you really don’t need to listen to anyone else’s dietary advice in the middle of a party, and they don’t need to hear yours either.
5. Leave Early if Necessary
When all else fails, just remove yourself from the situation.
This could be as simple as excusing yourself to the restroom then finding yourself “caught” in a conversation with someone else upon return. Or, it could mean just going home.
Keep Your Own Health Top of Mind
When a family party is on the schedule, there are steps we can take to help the event go as smoothly as possible, without giving up on a weight loss goal.
If you can plan for that day to be a “cheat day,” do, it’s the easiest choice for how to attend a family party and stick to a meal plan.
If the event comes up in the same week as something else, try to show up full, avoid sweets & conversations about food, and don’t hesitate to excuse yourself early, if needed. It’s important to remember that your health is your number one priority.
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