What to Eat at Your Next BBQ, Holiday Party, or Special Event

Summer is going to happen every year of your life. Christmas is also going to happen. You will go to a BBQ. You will travel to a family reunion. Or go to a wedding or a road trip in the car.

You will be at events where food feels like the main event throughout your entire life.

If you always give yourself permission to eat all the cake, have the candy, eat a large portion of pasta salad, you will feel further from your weight loss goals.

Plus, this takes away from the experience with friends and family if you feel like you’ve eaten the chips, so now you’ve blown it. This puts you right back into those hard rules and deprivation – and you are bound to binge.

How do you make it through these events without feeling stressed, obsessed or anxious?

In order to break the cycle of dieting, you have to create a lifestyle. And you can still do this while enjoying every single thing you eat.

That’s why I want to give you my exact strategies plus the mindset work I teach all my clients for special events and holidays.

My goal is that you will arrive at your next special event fully prepared and fully realizing that food is part of the event – but it’s not the main event.

The Art of Preparation

Maybe it’s just me but…driving is boring, ya know? And so, one of my favorite things to do in the car is snack. Maybe you can relate.

You stop at a gas station and grab a bag of chips, grab the combo at lunch on the road with a diet pop. Next thing you know, you find yourself spending 4-5 hours eating solely carbs on the highway.

And it’s not because you’re bad, it’s because humans are designed to consume. If the bag of chips is in front of you, then you’re bound to eat it.  

Let’s say your normal road trip prep looks like this…

Twizzlers, diet pop, bigger bag of chips or a few small bags, flavored rice cakes, crackers, some cheese for the cooler, maybe a piece of fruit, etc.

Even if you think you’ll only have a little or won’t eat it all, this is carb dense and this is setting you up to not feel so good about yourself.

Prep is so important but you have to make sure you are prepping wisely.

Here’s what to do instead…

Get a small cooler and fill it full of healthy stuff: fresh carrots, pea pods, fresh fruit, prep a good lunch with protein, and don’t forget to bring tons of water.

If you don’t have time to pre-make the lunch part and just grab the fresh veggies and fruit for snacks, decide what you will eat on the road BEFORE you head out. This way you won’t be tempted by other choices and you can really enjoy your choice.

You have to be able to change what you’re doing to get a different result then what you’re currently getting.

Listen, I still like Twizzlers (notice them on that before prep list 😉 ) but I don’t like how they make me feel. I don’t like that much sugar in my body so I make a better choice, and I feel better for it.

Next up, let’s discuss those special events.

Fill Your Plate Like This

At your next holiday party, BBQ, potluck, buffet style event – grab a plate and let’s do a quick n’ dirty rundown…

  1. Survey all the food and eliminate 50%. You don’t need to try everything.
  2. Decide that you don’t need extra bread. There are going to be other choices.
  3. Really think about your portions. For things like pasta salads, potato salads, and carb heavy options, shoot for ¼ of a cup. Keep telling yourself, “I’m little – I don’t need that much.” (because it’s true! 😉 )
  4. Pick your favorite protein! Chicken, fish, a burger, steak, etc. If you have a choice to bring something to an event like this, you bring the protein!
  5. Go through the line ONCE. You may be used to going back multiple times and might skimp on your first portions. Feel confident and good as you go through that line and fill your plate up just one time.

Now, onto desserts…

Let’s get science-y for just a second: the first 3 bites of anything is what gives you the most satisfaction. It’s proven to be those bites that light up your brain and pleasure center.

This means that you are, often, eating past that simply because it’s there.

Pick the dessert you really, really want and don’t normally make yourself. Have it and fully enjoy it.

When someone cuts the cake or you get a slice of something that looks like it was meant for a lion – you don’t have to eat all of it.

Mentally or physically cut the portion in half and eat only that. You may be conditioned to believe you have to clear your plate but this isn’t true.  

Desserts can be the trickiest because they are dense and the sugar gives you a rush which makes you want more. Again, this isn’t because you’re bad – this is the science of what it is to be human.

If you establish these strategies going into the event, you will feel good about your choices, without any shame or guilt.

It’s Not Personal

Women tend to get very personal with their weight loss. It’s easy to do especially when you’ve come from the world of dieting which is all based in extremes – on the wagon or off, white knuckling or bingeing.

But when you can step away from that, you’ll realize that it’s simply about creating limits for yourself, super specific strategies that don’t leave you feeling deprived, and the mindset that you can do this.

I often compare it to money. You know what you can and can’t spend during the week. You have a set budget and you stick to it, and you don’t get so mad at yourself if it isn’t perfect. You understand that your fiscal health is constantly a work in progress.

The same goes for your weight loss.

Strategies + how you think about it will create permanent change. What’s hard is making massive changes only doing it for a little time. Consistency over time creates the lasting change.

Have a comment? How about a specific holiday or special event question?

Email me here. Seriously. I’ll respond. I am happy to give you a quick strategy or tip to make sure you are enjoying your life, eating well, and feeling good in your body – and your life!


About the Author:

Jennifer coaches busy, successful women with imperfect lives who want to look and feel amazing from the inside out. With her tried-and-proven weight loss method—ENERGY to Thrive™—Jennifer takes the fascinating science of physiological transformation and breaks it down into six empowering steps.

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