4 Strategies to Avoid a Dietary Blowout this 4th of July

4 Strategies to Avoid a Dietary Blowout this 4th of July
Do you like to hustle? Unfortunately, I do, and it’s unfortunate because hardly anybody else (yourself included, no doubt), does! Which made it very difficult for me—a few years back when I occupied my Saturday evenings twirling and chasseing around the dance floor—to find a suitable dance partner for the rare hustle remix the DJ played at the weekly balls. 
While I managed to pacify my terpsichorean longings with salsa, waltz, and the occasional jive, I spent a fair amount of time saving my feet for that elusive hustle song. And it was during the brief sabbaticals between dances that I encountered a major impediment to my enjoyment of those ballroom dances—virtually unlimited complimentary nibbles. 
You may have noticed that food is to be found everywhere at all times, and the Asheville Ballroom was no exception. For a mere $10, you could dance all night in a basketball court turned dance studio and peruse the finger food buffet, continuously restocked with only the best from Sam’s Club, with indiscretion. 
In my younger years, this might have been the bomb—I mean, an evening of dance AND all the walnut chocolate chip cookies I can eat? What could be better? Better, that is, until I began learning about nutrient-rich eating and the dangers of sugar, salt, oil, flour, cheese, and meat—that’s when having unlimited access to bad food became less appealing.
Unfortunately, despite my good intentions, I lacked the psychological and behavioral skills necessary for healthy eating, and every Saturday night I’d find myself in a push-me-pull-me in which my underutilized superego (You really shouldn’t. . .) inevitably lost out to a spoiled rotten id (Yea but I’m gonna anyway!).
If the internal tug-of-war wasn’t enough, on the occasion that I threw in the towel early, without a fight, I ended up eating a lot of junk, felt bad about myself the next day, and suffered strong cravings for more bad stuff, which often lead to even more bad eats and the inevitable, “What the hell?! I’ll start fresh on Monday,” syndrome.  
Boy, I sure wish I had known then what I know now about handling compulsive eating, especially in a buffet-type scenario.
What would I do differently were I to encounter a similar appetizer/dessert bar? Well, first I’d make sure my belly was full of goodness—like a pile of steamed veggies and tofu or a big bowl of vegetable bean soup. Depending on the situation, I might even take my meal to the event—that way much of my time is occupied with my food and not their food.
Next, I’d make a plan for the buffet. The ballroom dances went from 7 p.m. to about 10, so I would plan to hold off even viewing the spread until say, 8:30. At the magic hour—assuming no hustle or jive was happening—I’d first survey the offerings then choose a couple that really tickled my fancy, put them on a plate, and return to my seat before slowly savoring each bite between dances. If I wanted more upon finishing, I’d repeat the process.  
Try it for yourself 
Independence Day doesn’t have to actuate several days ridden with guilt and cravings. Instead of just hoping for the best, employ these strategies: 
1.      Eat a vegetable-rich meal before you go; better yet, take it with you to the event.
2.      Time your treats. If the event goes from 2-4 p.m., wait until at least 3:00 to eat any extracurricular comestibles. Also, you’ll make it much easier on yourself if you don’t even look at the offerings until then. 
3.      When it’s time to eat, choose judiciously. Survey the goods and pick a couple that particularly appeal to you.  
4.      Put your two treats on a plate—no grazing at the troughand sit down to savor them slowly. 
Bonus Tip   Reset your measure of success and avoid all-or-none thinking. Remember how many times you've eaten stuff you said you wouldn't? Instead of making promises you might not keep, put your energy on the 4 strategies above.
If you practice these strategies over and over, you’ll gradually gain more control over what you put in your mouth.
Bon appetite and happy 4th 

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