Shape Up & Drop 10™


Step 10- It's Party Time!-Strategies to Help You Stay in Control

Dealing with parties can be a challenge when you're trying to control your calories. It's not just what you eat but how much you eat that affects how you handle party temptation. In Step 10, we offer guidance on how to navigate your way at a party without throwing your weight-loss efforts off course.

The topics covered in Step 10 are:

  • Healthful food suggestions when you are giving a party
  • Portion-control strategies when attending a party
  • How to plan ahead for a party

Food Tips for the Party Planner

Would you like to plan a party without tossing out the effort you've already put into losing weight? Try these serving suggestions to help keep calories under control.

  • Giving a party puts you in control of what is served. Jot down the foods you've enjoyed eating while losing weight and make sure to include them in your party menu.
  • Serve some nutritious foods that are low in calories and fat, such as raw veggies with nonfat yogurt dip and fresh fruit salad.
  • Pop some light microwave popcorn in advance of the party and serve popcorn and pretzels instead of potato chips and corn chips.
  • Try baked tortilla chips with salsa or bagel bites with fat free cream cheese. Cut pita bread into triangles and serve with hummus (chickpea dip).
  • Munch on party mixes made with dried fruit. Combine dried apples, pears and apricot halves, or mix dried cranberries and raisins with peanuts.
  • Serve plenty of no-calorie beverages, like unsweetened iced tea, unsweetened flavored seltzer or diet cola.
  • If you're serving sandwiches, use light mayonnaise or mustard instead of regular mayonnaise.
  • When preparing hot dishes, cut down on fat by using light margarine instead of butter and reduced fat cheese instead of regular cheese. To slash fat in desserts, consider serving angel food cake instead of pound cake, fig bars instead of butter cookies, low-fat frozen yogurt instead of premium ice cream.

Portion-Control Pointers for the Party Goer

When you're at a party and surrounded by lots of good food, try these portion-control tactics to keep your eating and drinking in line.

  • Take a survey before eating anything. Scan the offerings at the buffet table, on the hors d'ouevre plates, or in the bowls of snack foods around the room. Pick out a few items that entice you the most and that you'd enjoy eating. Have reasonable portions of these favorite foods rather than nibbles of everything.
  • Use the small plates, especially if you're tempted to fill your plate up. Try to limit your munching to one plateful of food.
  • When your plate is full, walk away from the food and head toward the other side of the room.
  • Alternate your drinks. If you have an alcoholic beverage, make the next one a nonalcoholic calorie-free drink, like sparkling water, diet cola, or flavored seltzer (check that it's the unsweetened, zero-calorie flavored seltzer). Limit alcohol to no more than one serving (if you're a woman) or two servings (if you're a man). Alcohol contains calories and it tends to increase the appetite. So choose a small serving of the alcoholic drink but a big serving of the no-calorie beverage.
  • If you like beer, ask for the light kind; it has about one-third fewer calories than regular beer, although the alcohol content is about the same. If you prefer wine, save on calories and alcohol by having a wine spritzer (wine mixed with club soda).
  • Hold a no-calorie beverage in your hand. This makes it harder to hold-and eat-a plateful of food.

Planning Ahead Helps Keep You in Control

These pre-party strategies can help you control your calories at the party and throughout the day.

  • Don't go to the party hungry. Skipping a meal or two to give yourself more room to splurge at the party may seem sensible, but in reality, it is usually not a good strategy. Skipping meals can make you so ravenous at the party that you end up eating more than you would have if you spaced out your meals throughout the day. To keep from overeating at the party, have a snack, like cereal with low fat milk, low fat yogurt with fruit, or soup with whole-wheat crackers before the party begins.
  • Decide in advance if you want to stay on course with your weight-loss efforts or if you want to treat yourself to some extras at the party. Rather than going all-out and eating from everything in site, selectively choose only those foods that you enjoy the most. Try to keep your portions reasonable.
  • Volunteer to bring a healthful dish to the party. Choose something that you like to eat and that you think the guests will also enjoy. There may be others who also want to eat healthfully and are looking for tasty foods that are not laden with calories.
  • Plan to spend time with family and friends. Let conversation with others be your top priority rather than focusing your attention mainly on the food.
  • Keep active before, after, or even during the party. Exercise burns calories, relieves stress and helps you stay on track with your weight goals. Before the party, take a walk or a bike ride or go to the gym. During the party, consider exploring the neighborhood on foot or playing a game, like Frisbee or softball, with family or friends. Or plan on taking that walk after the party is over, before you get cozy at home on your couch or in front of the TV.

Summary

  • Hosting or attending a party does not mean your weight-loss efforts have to placed on hold. By planning ahead and giving some careful thought to your food choices, you can keep your calories under control.
  • If you're throwing a party, include some healthful foods that you've enjoyed eating while losing weight and that you think your guests will also enjoy. A nice display of raw veggies with low-fat dip; colorful bowls of fresh fruit, like apples, berries or cherries; plates of bite-size cut fresh fruit, like melon, kiwi or bananas; and plenty of no-calorie beverages are ideal choices. By including these foods, you can feel a part of the party without abandoning your weight-control efforts.
  • If you're invited to a party, don't go on an empty stomach. A light snack beforehand may help curb your appetite and keep you from overeating at the party.
  • Before putting anything on your plate, survey the room and decide in advance which foods you would prefer to eat and how much you could have without going overboard. Use the smaller plates, if available, and once you've chosen your food, move away from the food table.
  • To take your mind off eating, make it a point to catch up with friends or relatives you haven't seen in a while or engage in conversation with new acquaintances.
  • Find ways to be physically active. Take a walk or play with the children to help burn calories before, during or after the party.
  • If you ate more than expected, get right back on track the next day.

Homework Assignment

Look through cookbooks that specialize in low fat or reduced-calorie recipes and pick out some recipes that look appealing for a party. Try them out at home. If you like the taste and appearance, and you're planning a party, include these dishes in your menu. If you're a guest, ask if you could bring one of these dishes to the party. Casually mention these recipes to your family and friends, and if they are interested, pass along the recipes, so they might consider using them at future get-togethers.

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