Two weeks ago, I ran into someone at a conference whom I hadn’t seen in sometime. When I asked how she was doing, she said everything was going well but she’d like to lose 10lb., as she turned her gaze towards the requisite pastry that’s served at conferences and meetings around the country.
If you’ve been connected to my stuff for a while you might guess what I asked:
“Are you hungry?”
Avoiding the question, she responded that it was difficult not to eat it when everyone at her table was eating it. Her reaction is quite common.
If you’re somewhere that food is being served, is it uncomfortable not to eat? Do you feel left out? Deprived? Could be any number of reasons. That’s why I encourage my clients to have a game plan for keeping to their health and weight loss goals while eating out:
- Be intentional: Why are you at this particular event? Is it to learn, connect with people or simply have fun? Let that be your focus and have food and drink be ancillary to the main show.
- Be prepared: If you know there’s going to be food, arrange to be at least moderately hungry. “Save room” as is said. And bring a portable snack with you in case there’s nothing you want to eat so as to avoid being famished.
- Be picky: Not all food is equal. I find many foods served at meetings and conferences are fine, but not spectacular. Even at parties, select your favorites and leave the rest.
- Be still: Once you’ve had enough and feel satiated, the lure of more food can derail your goals. Sit with the tension and know it will pass. Congratulate yourself afterwards for respecting fullness and sticking with your goals.
- Be kind: On the occasion you do overeat, it’s unhelpful to berate yourself or let one slip up define you as lacking in willpower. Forgive yourself, learn from it and commit to do better next time.
Remember that good food is around the next corner. In the moment it’s easy to get caught up in what’s right before us but the truth is, we have access to delicious food 24/7. And, a “no” to what’s in front of you is ultimately a “yes” to something else more important.
So, if eating out often interferes with your goals, try these five steps. Start with being intentional – that’s the foundation – and let the others flow from there.