How to avoid succumbing to temptation at many parties?
February 11, 2010 4:31 AM   Subscribe

School party today, and I am on a diet. Help! I am terrible with temptations like this and don't want to mess up my progress so far.

I have been on a diet, on and off, for the last year and have lost about half of the 30 pounds I wanted to lose. Recently, I have been fairly consistent and am doing well. However, I still have trouble with certain temptations.

When I was in Weight Watchers, one of the things they helped me realize was that I have a bit of a button with 'free food.' Before I went back to school for my teaching degree, I worked for two miserable, unhappy, impoverished years as a very mediocre freelance journalist and still have post-traumatic stress issues about money. Even though I am in a much better place now, new career, stable job etc. free food still seems to be a trigger for me. Rationally, I know I could plan my treats and go out and buy a cupcake if I really wanted one, but when faced with a free cupcake I did not buy, I can't seem to stop myself.

I am a teacher and today is Valentine Party day. I have been telling myself I will bring a healthy snack, but in the past I have brought a snack and then succumbed to the junk and wound up eating more. I am telling myself I will limit it to one treat and make it one that will be worth it, but again, past history has not suggested I will follow through with this. ANY ideas for dealing with temptation in a case like this one? I teach seven different classes and ALL of them are having parties...
posted by JoannaC to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Make one treat into two to four treats by cutting it into sections and doling it out throughout the day?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:33 AM on February 11, 2010

Or, eat what you want and have a spinach salad and glass of wine for dinner?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:34 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Drinks loads and loads of coffee or water. These things will bloat you, and make you feel full, but will pass with minimal chunkage.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:52 AM on February 11, 2010

Do you have a friend / ally there to stop you from overeating?
posted by Omnomnom at 4:52 AM on February 11, 2010

Eat a large filling healthy meal beforehand?
posted by emilyw at 4:55 AM on February 11, 2010

Drink a big glass of water (or two) before you go in.
posted by unixrat at 4:59 AM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm like you. I LOVE party food and I'm in the process of slimming. For me, the only solution is to just not eat a single thing at parties, because I can't stop once I get started.
Get yourself worked up about the fact that our society seems to not be able to cope any more without an endless supply of snacks.

Watch people chew and get grossed out.

Look around the room at all the fat people and remember that you don't want to be one of them.

Bring a big bottle of water and don't let it out of your hands.

Think about the 15 pounds you've already lost. You won't gain them all back because of this party, but the food that's going to be out on the buffet table isn't going to nurture your body.

It's just an hour of your life. You've gone an hour without eating plenty of times.

(I have two parties tonight and have committed to not eating a single bite at either. I realize it's not an ideal strategy - and at some point I hope to get to the place where I can stop myself - but for now I'm acknowledging my frailty and taking control of it.)
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:05 AM on February 11, 2010 [4 favorites]

For me, passing up free sweets and treats at work became easier when I realized that there was always another treat around the corner. It's not like that's the last piece of cake in the world, and if you don't eat it now, you'll never have cake again. Promise yourself that if you skip the cake today, you can indulge next time.
posted by donajo at 5:07 AM on February 11, 2010

Maybe you CAN indulge in a treat. But just one or two small ones. That will probably help you feel like you're taking part and not depriving yourself. The whole "feeling like you're on a diet" separation thing is what always stops me.

I heard a great tip a while back for holiday eating which goes well here: don't eat anything you could get anywhere else. Lots of people will bring something storebought, or pans of brownies, Krispie Treats and/or chocolate chip cookies. You know how those taste. Believe me. But if someone brings their special family-recipe S'mores bars, or something else you know you haven't seen, that's different. So don't waste your taste buds on something generic.
posted by Madamina at 5:53 AM on February 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Whenever you think of food as "free," remind yourself fh the cost of WeightWatchers. Use a plate, and add only very small portions to the plate.
posted by theora55 at 6:27 AM on February 11, 2010

Chew gum or eat a breath mint.

Plan which of the 7 parties you are going to have your treat during. Or, if there is something you absolutely love that won't be served at the party (like really good chocolate), hold out on the treats and get yourself that afterwards.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:38 AM on February 11, 2010

What I would do, assuming I really wanted to partake in SOME of the valentine's day party food, is set rules.

Mine would be:
- No treats until after lunchtime. This will take away the temptation to eat the junk before lunch. Tell yourself that you don't need a cupcake before noon anyway.
- Don't go into this hungry. Eat a normal breakfast, regular healthy snack, and a healthy lunch (probably a little lighter in calories for lunch). The normal eating will help keep you from convincing yourself that you are starving and NEED that chocolate.
- In the afternoon, allow yourself three small treats (or whatever number you feel is sensible). Choose one each class, so you can participate in each of the afternoon classes. If the treat isn't absolutely awesome, stop at one bite and chuck it. I always feel bad when I eat something that wasn't worth the splurge.
- If you have had your three treats and don't want any more, then brush your teeth or drink peppermint tea if you have it. The minty taste in your mouth can work to discourage you from wanting more snacky things.
posted by smalls at 7:05 AM on February 11, 2010

If you want to eat NOTHING at the parties, then read this article from one of my favorite healthy food bloggers "10 Reasons to Never Eat Free Food"
posted by smalls at 7:07 AM on February 11, 2010

I think a diet where you can't occasionally indulge in a cupcake is an unsustainable one. A free cupcake is not evil, and eating one does not mean you're a bad person; it's also not a justification to go off your diet generally (I think this is where people fall off the wagon--they have some food they consider "bad", figure it's all over, and just continue eating bad food instead of continuing with generally healthy habits). That being said, make sure that whatever healthy snack you bring feels substantial and satisfies cravings. An apple smeared with peanut butter usually works for me in pretty much the same way a big ol' piece of cake would, since there's a nice bit of sugar and fat there.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:21 AM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have a really hard time passing up free treats. Something I've had good luck with is thinking about the quality of the food I'm eating. If there's a catered breakfast at work, I go ahead and take a slice of pound cake or a muffin or a pastry--BUT. If I take my first bite and it's stale or just doesn't taste good? I stop eating it and throw it away.

Consider giving yourself a greater calorie allowance for the day but challenge yourself to zero in on the most fabulous, delicious treat at the party--and feel free to discreetly dispose of anything you pick up and then discover to be stale or mediocre.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:46 AM on February 11, 2010

You say you have 7 different class periods? Why not just focus on one class period at a time? Don't say "I won't eat anything all day," just try to make it though one class at a time. Make a game out of it. The first class will probably be the worst, but if you get through the first one, the next ones will be easier!

If you do happen to succumb, can you go to the gym or exercise somehow after school?
posted by katypickle at 7:54 AM on February 11, 2010

Before you walk into the party put some gum in your mouth. It seems stupidly easy, but it works for me every time. If you want to eat something you'll have to find somewhere to dispose of the gum, which helps me remember "no mindless snacking."
posted by geekchic at 7:58 AM on February 11, 2010

Perhaps it would be helpful to reframe the context for yourself, to normalize not indulging? Instead party = free food, think of it as party = social break, plus dessert.

Think of it this way -- if you went to a restaurant for lunch, there's nothing stopping you from ordering the whole dessert menu after you eat lunch. But you don't, because that would be weird lunchtime food behavior. On the other hand, if you lingered after lunch chatting over a cup of coffee, that's not weird food behavior at all.

So eat a normal breakfast or lunch, and permit yourself to eat one thing for dessert at the party.
(I agree with picking the best, homemade-est thing.)
posted by desuetude at 9:06 AM on February 11, 2010

Best answer: Realize that this is psychological warfare, not a matter of will power. Humans can have insulin responses to even the sight or smell of food, which will lower your blood sugar, and cause you to crave it. It will be pretty much impossible to ignore 8 hours of cupcakes, so turn it around. Know that those snacks are the embodiment of crapy processed junk like trans-fat, and you won't be a mindless cow feeding at the trough. Knowledge and conscious decisions can help turn this around, like how trans-fat effects your body, sugary foods eaten quickly lead to insulin spikes and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.

Possibly smelling something strong, like camphor lip-balm, could help.

And, if you do end up having a snack or two, don't beat your self up about it. Keep track, and make adjustments to your diet for the next few days if you need or want to. Human brains (especially those in people who are overweight) are hardwired to love this stuff, let alone your personal history of having anxiety about food/money.
posted by fontophilic at 9:41 AM on February 11, 2010

I'm (kind of) facing this right now. We're under a tough deadline at work and, for the past few weeks, people have been bringing all kinds of junk in to "help" us make it through. It's all in the kitchen, which is right by the bathrooms. I also have to walk through the kitchen to get to other parts of the office.

What I do is try to make it a point of pride. "It's going to feel awesome when I go home tonight and realize that I didn't have any of that crap today."

Or, on days when I just *have* to indulge, limiting it to a half or one or two (depending upon what "it" is) makes me feel fantastic. "I ate half of a cookie. Six months ago, I would have had two! I'm more in control of my food intake than I used to be."

I'm also lucky enough to have wonderful people in my life, both at home and at work, who I can ask to help remind me of my goals. Sometimes a simple, "Hey Aleen? Do you really want that cookie?" really helps me out. They don't try to get me to not eat the cookie, but they make sure that I'm not just mindlessly grabbing one because it's there. I don't know if it's possible for you to get others involved, but it helps me.

Look around the room at all the fat people and remember that you don't want to be one of them. This doesn't seem like a productive deterrent to me. Fat people have enough to deal with without people using them as the poster children for What Not To Be.
posted by Aleen at 10:20 AM on February 11, 2010

Aleen, point taken. I was a little grumpy this morning and also was thinking about husband, a teacher who talks a lot about the amount of food that his fellow teachers insist on having on-hand for every meeting, real or fake holiday, birthdays, showers, etc. There's hardly ever NOT food around. Many of the teachers are quite overweight and not modelling good behavior for the kids, and yet seem not to equate *all this food, all the time* with their own appearance and health. Having just escaped the world of Borderline Obese, I'm like a reformed smoker - in that disgusted and vocal phase.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 10:29 AM on February 11, 2010

Personally I would eat as much as I wanted, and skip lunch tomorrow, then get back on to regular routine.

You might help yourself by noting how you feel after gorging on cake -- my prediction is bloated and unwell.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:49 AM on February 11, 2010

I read something the other day that says it takes something like 3500 EXCESS calories to create a pound of fat. I highly doubt that you would consume that much at this party. Enjoy yourself, but go lightly and you should be fine.
posted by Spyder's Game at 11:54 AM on February 11, 2010

Ok, the best outcome for today is to make a plan you can stick to, and actually stick to it. A small success will be better than attempting something extreme and not managing it and then having to deal with the guilt.

Personally, I would take lunch like normal, and allow myself one small thing at every party. But, this may not be something you can do. You may have to go cold turkey. Or let yourself have the best looking thing at every party. Or to look at the food at each party and plan what your going to eat before you start. Or drink stupid amounts of water.

Either way, this is an issue for you, and you may not solve it this time. But what you learn this time will help you plan for next time.
posted by kjs4 at 5:13 PM on February 11, 2010

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.
posted by guesswho at 10:17 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

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