First of all, I would just like to say a big “congrats” to all the dietetic interns out there who have recently graduated (including myself as of last Tuesday!!!). For anyone who isn’t familiar with Dietetic Internships, they are a bit brutal–a year of working your butt off (w/o pay), doing homework and other projects when you get home from work, studying for tests along the way, fitting in volunteer hours, etc. It’s a tough year. But for me, that year is finally over, and in a few weeks I will able to take the exam to become an official Registered Dietitian (ie “nutrition expert”), so I can say that it was all worth it. Check out this awesome shirt my best friends Lindsay and Jenn got me:
You can follow Lindsay’s weight loss journey here if you are interested.
Of course, with graduation comes celebration, and with celebration comes food–lots of delicious food. I am a little strange in that whenever I have a party, I insist on preparing all the food myself. I guess I’m a control freak, but whatever. For my graduation celebration, I focused mostly on healthy food, but did include a few unhealthy (yet amazingly delicious) desserts. For a look at my party menu and some food pics, scroll down, but first, let’s talk business. I thought that this would be a good time for this post, as 4th of July is just 2 days away, and we are all bound to be surrounded by tasty (yet probably not healthy) food for the next several days. Here’s how you survive a party without un-doing all your hard diet and exercise work:
5 Tips for Surviving Get-Togethers Without Blowing Your Diet
1. Bring a Healthy Dish – Lots of get-togethers give you the opportunity to bring a dish of your own. This is a perfect opportunity to make something A) that you like to eat, and B) that’s relatively healthy. That way, even if everyone else brings dishes laden with cheese, cream, and bacon, you’ll at least have something that you know you can eat without ingesting way more calories and fat than you want to. Here are some great ideas for healthy party dishes: Deviled Eggs with Homemade Pickled Onions, Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips, Pumpkin Hummus, Baked Beans, Black Bean and Cucumber Salad, Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad, and Winter Fruit Salad.
2. Think Before You Eat – When you get to a party or gathering, your first inclination is to go straight to the food table and dig in, right? This is usually mindless eating. When you get there, take a minute and assess how hungry you actually are. Are you hungry at all? If not, don’t go eat just because you can. Tell yourself that the food will still be there in an hour or two when you are actually hungry, and will therefore enjoy it more.
3. Scope Out the Food First – Although most parties are full of high calorie, high fat food, there are usually a few healthier staples. It’s a good idea to scope out the food situation and come up with a “plan of attack” before you just start eating whatever suits your fancy. Look for dishes that are low calorie, high fiber and/or protein, such as fruit salads, veggie trays, bean salads, lean meat such as grilled chicken breast or even a small grilled burger patty. Make a mental note of these healthier options, and try to eat more of these foods when you’re hungry at the party. Also, make note of the foods that are likely to tempt you. If you’re a sweet tooth, then probably cookies, cakes, cupcakes, and the like will be your foods to watch. If you are more into savory foods, pay attention to foods such as hot dogs, cheesy/creamy dips, cheese and meat platters, etc. You don’t need to completely deprive yourself of these favorite foods, but do indulge in moderation, and intelligently. If there are four types of cookies there, you don’t need to try all four. Try one. Maybe pick one that you’ve never had before. If you know you like a certain dessert, skip it, and try something different, or if you prefer to eat what you know you like, then eat the favorite dessert–just don’t eat both. Another option is to split desserts or indulgent foods so that you can try a bite of many things but not overindulge on any one item.
4. Walk Away from the Food – People tend to congregate around food during get-togethers. Every holiday my entire family seems to end up standing around in the kitchen, no matter how much we encourage people to go sit in the family room. It’s a pretty simple fact, that if you’re around the food, you’re going to eat the food–even if you’re not hungry. So at your next party, make a conscious effort to stand or sit away from the food table. Focus on other activities such as catching up with old friends, supervising the kids playing, making sure the dog doesn’t escape the yard, or best of all, if there are games or sports or anything that involves physical activity, join in and burn some extra calories!
5. If You Bite It, Write It – Parties and other occasions where food is left out and people are grazing tend to result in way more calories in than need be. Grazing invites mindless eating (eating when you’re not hungry). One of the best ways to avoid mindless eating is to track what you eat. I know a lot of people hate tracking, but it is one of the simplest ways to stay on track and be aware of what (and how much) you’re eating. Even if you don’t track normally, it’s still a good idea to track during a party or get together if you’re worried about over-doing it. If you’re going to be at the party over a meal time, then you can set a calorie limit for yourself (I would say between 500-750 calories) and make sure you don’t exceed it. If the party is over a snack time, and you’re still going to eat a meal before and after it, I would say stick closer to 300 calories. Or, if you really can’t stand calorie counting, then just keep a list on the notepad on your phone (or pad and paper if you’re old-school), and just write down all the different foods you eat. Chances are, knowing that you will have to write it if you bite it will at least get you to stop and think about whether or not you really want to eat that third cookie.
So, now that that’s out of the way, here’s a look at what I made and ate this past weekend:
Edamame Hummus (from Oh She Glows blog)
Guac Eggs (my own attempt to include avocado in deviled eggs)
Spinach, Mushroom, and Cheese “Quichelets” ( I made these using the recipe from this post, in mini muffin tins and baked for 20 min at 350 – delish)
Salted Caramel Cupcakes (from Sally’s Baking Addiction blog)
Chocolate Covered Pretzel S’more Sandwiches (blog post coming later on this one…)
So there you have it. How to survive a party without ruining your diet. I hope you found this post helpful. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Please let me know if you like this sort of post and if you would want to see more like it. I am always open to suggestions for what you want to read about 🙂
Wishing you all a happy (and healthy) 4th of July!