Surviving the Family Gathering

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Surviving the Family Gathering

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Is there any event more challenging for a committed dieter than the Family Get Together?   Often July 4th picnic is approaching. Any event that brings the clan together usually means lots of food, lots of family dynamics and an expectation that you MUST EAT someone’s amazing new recipe.

It takes a super committed dieter not to succumb to mom’s “famous” lasagna or having a beer (or two) with Uncle Harry. And how can you say “No” to one of grandma’s brownies. If you are a committed dieter – you must learn say “no” (kindly, of course).

It’s understandable that dieters approach annual gatherings with a heavy heart. Not only will the variety of food undermine any diet, but also family gatherings often include a dash of “You don’t need to lose any weight” or “Diet tomorrow – today we eat.”

The best way to survive a food-heavy family gathering is to plan (and commit) in advance to choose your food wisely. It doesn’t hurt to have a few deflecting lines: “I’m full!” “I’m saving room for dessert” “I couldn’t eat another thing.” Of course if you’re hungry – and the food calls to you, that creates an inner turmoil in itself.

Here are a few ideas to make it through the family food fest without blowing your diet:

  • Tell the hosts you are on a diet and ask for their support.
  • Provide a food donation that you know you can eat.
  • You may want to eat before you arrive – or plan to eat after you leave.
  • Help the hosts – operate the grill, put out food. Busy hands will keep you from eating.
  • Eat slowly and relish. Whatever food you do chose to eat – enjoy it.
  • Fill up your plate with the diet friendly foods first.
  • If you must eat, use portion control. Sure your diet can survive a wedge of lasagna, but not a quarter of the pan.
  • Avoid going for seconds.
  • Remember it’s okay to say “No, thanks.” It’s even okay to say, “I’m trying to diet.”
  • Move away from temptations. Don’t stand at the cheese and cracker table.
  • Keep in motion. You’re there to see family or friends. Don’t sit in one spot, move around and engage in conversations with everyone at the event.
  • Games being planned? Join in – grab that croquet mallet, jump in the pool, or shuffle that deck of cards.
  • Offer to help with cleanup. Clearing tables, washing dishes are great exercises.
  • Do not take home containers of leftovers. You know better.
  • When you get home, do not use food to reward yourself for sticking to your diet at the event. Skipping the potato salad is good; a dish of ice cream for making it through the event is not good.

If you blow your diet at the family get together, don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track the next day.

When it comes to family gathering, you may need to cut yourself some slack (because your relatives probably won’t). Throughout the eating and holiday seasons, perhaps the best you can accomplish is to not gain weight.


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