So you’re trying to lose weight, or you’re trying to eat healthily. Then you get an invitation. It might be lunch at a friend’s house, a restaurant trip for a birthday celebration, or just Christmas come round again. And you have that dilemma: should you eat what you want for one day, or should you try and stick to the healthy eating?
There isn’t a definitive answer, one approach may suit one person better than another, but here are a few things to consider when deciding on your diet strategy for special occasions.
Firstly, what do the terms indulgence and moderation mean to you?
They are subjective terms, but in my head I would define them as following:
Healthy eating – no cake
Moderation – one piece of cake
Indulgence – two pieces of cake
Over-indulgence – three or more pieces of cake
How likely is it for you that moderation will turn into over-indulgence? If the answer is extremely likely then perhaps you are someone who should stick to the healthy eating approach.
How special is the occasion?
Indulging to my mind (but not over-indulging) should be left for genuine special occasions – family birthdays, weddings, and big celebrations. If you indulge on smaller occasions it happens more regularly, and you will be less and less likely to stick to the healthy eating long term.
If you find you are indulging because its your colleague’s daughter’s dog’s birthday that’s only a short step from indulging because it’s a Friday, and that can only be a slippery slope.
What if the special occasion is dinner at someones house and they have made something especially for you?
Some people would say that you should stick to your rules regardless, but I think one should have consideration for the person who has gone to an effort for you. I would suggest the moderation route. Consider eating a small piece of whatever you’re given. Unless its something that’s a major trigger food for you, or you genuinely feel you have a food addiction, it shouldn’t hurt in the long run.
If you know that one piece will lead to more, why not say you are full and ask to take a piece home with you instead (if it’s something like cake)? Then you can choose whether or not to eat it later.
What about large events that are more impersonal ?
Maybe a work evening out, a church buffet or a neighbour’s barbecue. At these kind of events its very likely that there is a lot of food available, you are helping yourself to it rather than having a sit down meal, and no-one really cares what is on your plate.
I would use these occasions to practice healthy eating or at the most moderation. It’s extremely easy to overeat on these occasions for absolutely no reason. Try and make the most of the social aspect of such occasions and don’t stand near the food table.
Have a look at my previous post on dealing with a buffet.
Forward planning is necessary
It’s important whatever the occasion to decide on your strategy prior to the event. The quickest way to end up at over-indulgence is to not think about the food choices you want to make beforehand. Even if you don’t stick to your planned strategy you are far more likely to stick to it if you have it. A plan to only eat one piece of cake will induce guilt as you reach for the second piece.
Whatever strategy you decide on, make it the one that’s best for you – don’t let anyone else talk you into a new and more indulgent on the spot strategy!
Whatever the occasion, try and think about the event first, and the food second, and armed with your strategy you are sure to have a good time.