How to Eat at a Party and Actually Have Fun
By Glenys Oyston, RD
Hey y’all! Holiday Season is upon us and so are all those stupid articles that proliferate just about this time of year telling us how to eat at parties while staying on our diets. Because diets are awesome, am I right? Wait, they’re not? Oh right….riiiiiight…they’re not.
For the sake of your physical, psychological and even social well-being, I hope by now you’ve heard the news that diets don’t work – like, really, really don’t work – and you’ve given them up for something much cooler and healthier, like actually listening to your internal body signals of hunger and fullness, and eating foods you like in the quantities that satisfy you (imagine that!). But if you haven’t yet, then consider this holiday season the time to toss your food journal for good and start enjoying food again.
Why start your diet emancipation now? Because what happens during this season of parties and food to just about everyone on a diet during this season is one of two things: 1. You are a good little calorie counter and manage to stay on your diet but feel both deprived of all the culinary goodness before you AND 24/7 obsessed with foods you can’t have, thus depriving you of the real merriment of the season OR 2. You go way off the diet rails and eat everything in sight until your poor belly is bursting at the seams, all the while feeling 100% guilt and shame and thinking about how much “damage” you’ll have to undo starting in the new year.
Either way, you’re not having fun and you’re not feeling good about yourself. Some way to par-tay, huh? You deserve better.
So right here, right now, is my list for actually enjoying the array of delectable goodies this season without over-stuffing yourself OR feeling deprived. It henceforth replaces all the other stupid lists that tell you how not to eat.
1. Stop restricting. Any kind of restriction – whether it’s total energy intake or just certain foods you feel are too “sinful” for you to eat – will inevitably lead to feelings of out-of-control cravings and a desire to over-eat. You do not want to show up at someone’s dinner or party like that. There are better ways to be remembered than for being the woman who ate the entire cheese platter on her own.
2. Feed yourself foods you like regularly and consistently. Make sure you are getting regular meals and snacks that you like. This will prevent you from feeling chronically hungry and deprived. Losing that hunger can take some time, but it’s worth it to stick with it.
3. Stop focusing on your weight. Nutrition heresy, right?! No, woman: give it up. You already know that diets don’t work (and oftentimes even lead to weight gain) and that you are awesome just as you are. Focusing on your health, rather than your weight, is now where it’s at. And crazy restriction and binge-eating are not good for your health.
4. Go to that party and eat what you want. Take a deep breath, give yourself full permission to eat what and how much you want, and then do just that. If you’re still struggling with honoring your hunger and fullness cues, just use these eating opportunities to practice. What’s more fun than practicing with food?!
5. Enjoy the food…and the other stuff too. Life is not just all about food, and eating not-on-a-diet lets you tune into all the other cool things in the world instead of just what you can and can’t eat. When you get good at this internal regulation stuff, you’ll be amazed at just how relaxed and fun eating over the holidays can actually be, and how much time you have to enjoy what else is around you.
There you go, five easy steps to good nutrition all year ‘round AND how to enjoy eating this holiday season. Now go get your swishy skirt on and get out there and twirl your fabulous self.
Glenys Oyston is a registered dietitian who teaches people to eat for real, author of the blog DareToNotDiet.com and one half of the podcasting duo Dietitians Unplugged.