If you've been trying to lose weight or even just eat more healthfully, nothing can be more frightening than a party invitation: tons of food and drinks with plenty of opportunities to overindulge. And Labor Day is all about parties: pool parties, neighborhood parties, parties at the park, it's hard to escape this end of summer tradition. But with a little pre-planning you can have a fun and healthy Labor Day.
Eat First. Seems silly to eat before you're going someplace to eat, but this can really help. If you have a healthy snack before you go to any social gathering you will be in better control. You won't be famished and start eating the first thing you see. You can focus on the social aspect of the party. And when you do get to the buffet table you'll be able to take your time to peruse the offerings and locate the healthy fare.
Grab a drink (of water that is). When you first go into a party, be sure to grab a glass of water. If available, put a wedge of lemon or lime in it; this will help you feel more festive and it'll add a little flavor. Having that glass of water in your hands will not only keep your hands busy but it will also prevent you from immediately indulging in any alcoholic or other calorie-laded drinks. If possible, try to avoid the alcoholic beverages all together. Not only are they full of empty calories, but alcohol weakens our resolve and as a result, we tend to overeat when we drink.
Establish your buffet strategy. Buffets are the bullies of diets: they are intimidating and often make you do things you don't want to do. So be sure to plan your strategy and don't let the buffet bully you. View all the food options first before you start digging in. Use the smallest plate possible and only fill up once. And while you're filling your plate focus on loading up on fruit, veggies and some lean protein as well as some healthy fats too. If you see a treat that you really want, then allow yourself a small sample. By permitting yourself a taste you won't feel deprived and you'll be less likely devour the whole thing when no one is looking.
Don't come empty handed. Offer to bring your own healthy dish to the celebration. Not only will you win points with the hostess, but also you'll know that no matter what, there will be at least one thing you can eat. Veggies and hummus are always a good option.
Socialize. Instead of hanging out by the buffet table, step away from the food so it's not within easy reach. Once you've filled your plate, challenge yourself to talk to at least five different people before you can go back for more. This simple strategy will help you focus less on the food and more on the people. And who knows, once you start talking to different people you may even forget that you wanted a second helping of pasta salad.
Play. Get up and play volleyball, badminton, or any other fun yard game! If there aren't any games set up, initiate a dance contest or an old fashioned game of "tag." You'll burn calories and get your heart pumping a bit. Most importantly though, staying active at the party will take your mind off food and let you have fun with friends instead.
Just remember, just because the invitation says party, it doesn't mean it's an invitation to overindulge. If you plan ahead and come prepared you'll be able to have a fun, healthy Labor Day.
Author: Sue Ridgeway