When you are watching what you eat, going to a party can be a real challenge. Even going to the bar can be easier than attending a house party at your bestie’s house…at least there you have to think to take your wallet out before you start eating.

It is in your nature to go for free food that is around…you are not alone in the struggle.

It is hard enough to not eat all the cookies, chips, dips, and cheese when you’re sober, but it’s extra hard to be mindful of what you’re munching on when you have had a beer or two.

Luckily, you don’t have to make your social life take a backseat just because you are dieting or simply being more mindful of your meals.

There are some steps you can take to set yourself up for success when it comes to eating healthy at a party.

With that in mind, here are my 4 stupidly simple tips for navigating the food table at a party (so that you don’t mess up your diet and wish you’d just stayed home).

Eat before you go

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You have probably been given the great advice to not grocery shop when you are hungry.

That is some solid advice not just for your trip to the market. Don’t show up to the party with your stomach growling. You will end up binging.

Before you head out to the party, make yourself a healthy meal. This will prevent you from snacking on bad stuff at the party, or keep you from binging at the very least.

If you plan on drinking, make sure it is something substantial so your friends don’t find themselves taking care of wasted you because you ate a salad before those shots of tequila. You will end up being fed a bunch of chips and bad for you items to sober you up, and the whole point of eating before becomes pointless.

Set a drink limit before you get to the party

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Often the pitfalls of going to a party and ruining your diet for the day comes down to your inability to resist free food when you are buzzed or drunk. Limiting your alcohol consumption is likely part of your diet to begin with, so it would be smart of you to set a drink limit before you get to the party.

If you decide you can’t have more than 2 drinks, stick to it. AND yes, taking a shot does count as a drink, so choose your beverages wisely. When you have finished your drinks you have allowed yourself, switch to water and keep it filled and in your hand.

As long as you have that glass of water in your hand, you will be less tempted to reach for something else. Also people won’t offer you another drink when you already have something.

Gotta stay on the defense here…

Do an analysis of options before you start munching

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You have been eating healthy at home, so you are probably not confronted with a plethora of cookies and chips on a daily basis. When you arrive at the party, it will be hard not to get your fix of everything you have been missing on your diet. This is when bargaining with yourself is probably a reasonable step to take.

If there are some fruits and veggies on the table, go for it. Maybe just consider avoiding the ranch you REALLY want to dip those carrots into.

Chips and dip? Stick to the baked chips and salsas or guacs. Avoid anything with cream.

Cookies? It’s a treat, if you must have some, have one, but no more.

Pizza, Sandwiches, etc? You should have already had a meal before you came…so really you should not even get near these items.

Nuts? Grab a handful and move on. Not a bad snack, just don’t walk around with the bowl.

Plates are your friend

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Okay maybe you didn’t eat before you came. Sometimes it’s just not an option.

Those small party plates are your friend. Make one plate when you get there, and when it is gone, you are DONE eating. It is a much better plan than standing by the snack table hoping you won’t overeat.  

Plating the food you are allowing yourself to munch on is a great way to portion control. It can help mediate the mindless munching people tend to engage in when you start into a long conversation with that friend you haven’t seen in ages.

Do you feel prepared for battle?

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Half the battle of sticking to a diet at a party is what you do before you even get there.

If you are on a diet for the right reasons (because you care about your health, not to achieve looking like a Victoria’s Secret model), your strong will to stick to a plan will win out most of the time.

If you decide you are going to a party, don’t forget why you are there. TO HAVE FUN! This means that if you have one too many cookies, you don’t need to beat yourself up about it, just try and be better next time.

If you just are not willing to make any mistakes, maybe skip the party. But if you take my advice it really shouldn’t be too hard to stick to the plan by eating healthy.

Author Bio:

Kaitlin Cushman has two degrees in nutrition and a PhD in partying! She’s the co-founder and lead writer at Nutrition Gone Wild. Have a question for Kaitlin? You can reach her on Twitter or on her Facebook Page.