Tips for Surviving Family Gatherings
By Emily Wolff and Pam Helminger, RD LDN
Family gatherings should be a time to enjoy the pleasure of getting together with friends and loved ones. But, let’s face it, these occasions tend to center around food. Although it is perfectly alright to indulge sometimes, the trick is to take the focus off of the food.
Perhaps you could try suggesting a new outside activity or tradition that you enjoy that does not revolve around the kitchen table. It could be a hike where you can plan a scavenger hunt or an indoor game of Name That Tune. Or if the venue must be a family member’s home, maybe an after-dinner walk. You may even want to suggest a snowman building contest!
But let's face it, we still have to return to focusing on ways to manage your food intake at these family gatherings. it’s easy to eat things that you know are not a part of your meal plan. Whether you are in the weight loss phase or maintenance phase of your journey, it is helpful to attend functions with a healthy eating plan strategy in mind. By changing your expectations and planning in advance, you can make a conscious decision about food choices. Then you will have a much better chance of staying in control and feeling optimistic about what you ate when the gathering is over.
Avoid skipping meals beforehand or saving calories for splurging. Instead, bring a dish that suits your new eating habits and use a small plate if available to make it appear that there is more on your plate.
Need some help planning high protein dishes for a crowd? A veggie tray with a high protein dip is always a simple solution for a side dish or appetizer; substitute plain, nonfat Greek style yogurt for the sour cream in a ranch dip. Take raw vegetables such as bell pepper strips (a variety of colors make for a nice presentation), seedless/English cucumbers, baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florets. Avoid celery as it can potentially be problematic or any vegetable that causes cramping and gas. Turkey tenderloin or chicken/turkey meatballs also go a long way in feeding a large group. For a less formal gathering, try this recipe for BBQ. There is no need to explain that the sauce is sugar-free unless you choose to, and guests may even be delighted that you served chicken rather than pork! (Recipe on Culinary Page of this Issue)
Lastly, remember that your new food choices are for your benefit, not for those around you. Respond kindly if anyone makes a negative comment and lead by example. By gaining control in these circumstances, you will feel empowered and be successful in maintaining your weight loss for a lifetime.