This weekend, I attended the wedding of two of my friends and it got me thinking, events like these can be a challenge for those trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. The combination of an endless sea of delicious food and an atmosphere of overindulgence can send even the most health conscious heading back for another helping at the buffet or contemplating a second slice of cake. With that in mind, I’ve outlined a few simple strategies that you can use to enjoy your party, wedding, whatever without that “I should have worn bigger pants” feeling or a regretful trip to the scale the next morning.
1. Don’t show up hungry
Many people will restrict their eating or not eat at all before a big event in an effort to “save” calories for the night ahead. This plan backfires however, because, when you’re ravenous, you end up over-eating in the end. Also, your brain actually makes the food you’re eating taste better so you want to eat even more! Instead, eat really clean before your party with a good mix of produce, lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains. This way, you’ll only eat what you really love at the event and you can counteract any less than stellar choices you may make later on.
2. Drink up! (water, that is)
Keeping you water glass full can be a big help for a number of reasons. First off, many of us confuse our thirst and hunger cues. You may think you’re hungry, but what you really need is a little hydration. Also, water helps to keep you full, so you’ll naturally eat less food. Lastly, the food at your event may be saltier than what you would usually eat at home. You can combat that gross, bloated feeling by balancing the extra sodium with a little more water.
3. When it comes to hors d’oeuvres, eat one of everything
You shouldn’t feel deprived when you go to any celebration, but you also don’t want to eat freely, because all those little bites are easy to loose track of and can really add up. Instead, follow the rule of one: you can have one of each hors d’oeuvres you want. The first taste is always better than the tenth, so using this strategy allows you to eat what you love, without over-doing it. Then choose unlimited fruits and veggies and listen to your tummy. Don’t stuff yourself.
4. Fill half your plate with vegetables, then eat them first
By loading up on veggies (no, mashed potatoes and french fries don’t count) you’ll fill up on low calorie fare that’s chock full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Then, you can enjoy the other options, and your belly full of vegetables will stop you from over-eating.
5. Move your body!
A great way to counteract party eating is to get some exercise. Before your event, try to get a workout in. Not only will you burn off some extra calories, but you’ll feel great about yourself (there’s no better accessory than confidence) and engaging in a healthy behavior may make it harder for you to shovel down more than your share of spinach-artichoke dip. You can also remain active at your event. Walk around and mingle, stand up, and shake your booty on the dance floor. It may not seem like much, but all of that extra moving really adds up and it’s way better than sitting on your tush all night.