I can’t tell you how many times I have started a diet only to have some kind of party or event, usually involving food, come up. Like my previous post about waiting until Monday to start my diet so I can live it up on the weekend, I have many times told myself I will start my diet after (fill in the blank here). The only problem with this is there is ALWAYS something coming up so there NEVER is the perfect week or day to begin a diet. I have already been tested with a birthday party brunch, a pizza party and a couple of crazy, busy weeks where I so desperately wanted to just order pizzas for dinner and call it a day. I am proud to say that I passed all of these tests and feel that I am a much stronger dieter for it.
There is, however, one monthly event that I really struggle with…book club. Some of the girls in the neighborhood started a book club a few years back. As mothers of young children, we were all desperate to read something with more substance than “see spot run,” and, of course, there was the social aspect of it as well. I have to admit…I live for book club. It is the one night a month that I know I will be able to go out ALONE and socialize with all of my friends. We have such a great time together. We talk about what’s going on in each other’s lives, in the neighborhood and in the community, and we even get around to talking about the book too (most of the time). And there’s one other thing we do… we EAT!
Now, I’m not talking about a fruit platter and veggies with low-fat dip…I’m talking about REAL snack food…things like creamy dips, hot chili-cheese dip, buffalo chicken dip, egg rolls, and all kinds of sweet treats as well. The sweets don’t tempt me very often, but in case you haven’t realized it yet, my favorite food group is JUNK food, appetizer-type food in particular. And, of course, being the total foodaholic that I am, once I take one bite, it is all over for me. I just keep eating and eating and eating until nothing more will fit in my stomach, and believe me, that’s a lot of eating!
This has really, truly been an ongoing struggle for me since book club started. It combines two of the things that I enjoy most, socializing and eating…oh, yeah, and reading (it is a book club after all). My strategy in the past has always been to skip dinner and then just help myself to whatever I want. It makes perfect sense, right? WRONG. So many of the magazine articles and books that I've read all say just the opposite. When you are going to a party where there will be unhealthy food served, eat something healthy and filling at home so you are satisfied when you arrive…that way you won’t be as tempted to eat all that unhealthy (but insanely delicious) food. My reaction was always the same…Oh, please!! It makes so much MORE sense to starve yourself before you go. Then you can eat whatever you want and not worry about the calories adding up. It’s a win-win situation. Well, apparently it’s not because all I’ve ever done is make myself so hungry that I can’t stop eating or gaining weight. It seems all those books and magazines actually made a good point.
So I decided to take a little different strategy. I knew that there was NO WAY I was going to be there all evening and not be able to eat anything--even if I did eat dinner first (which I did, by the way). Now, these girls are very good friends of mine and know what I’m going through, and they have been nothing but supportive. It was because of this that I felt perfectly comfortable bringing my own snacks, and you know what, it worked out perfectly. I popped up some popcorn to take care of the crunchy, munchy, salty craving, and I brought along a Jell-O Chocolate Mousse (which is fabulous and only 60 calories, by the way) to take care of any sweet craving that I might have. It worked out great! In fact, I actually came home with leftover popcorn, and I didn’t even eat the mousse. I think just knowing that I COULD eat something while I was there made me feel at ease. It was like my own little food security blanket.
Now, I know this strategy doesn’t work in all social situations, but it did help me to realize that with a little creativity I could get to have my evening out and get through it without whipping myself up into a feeding frenzy. Each time I am successful in this type of situation, it gives me the strength and confidence to get through other situations that will surely arise. And who knows, maybe the day will come where I won’t even be tempted by that spread of food. Maybe? Hopefully? I’ll keep you posted on that one!