How to Manage Food Cravings and Stick to Your Weight Loss Plan

Group of friends and family dining at table

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If you struggle to commit to healthy eating habits, you're not alone. Parties and social functions can make it especially difficult to navigate the temptation to overeat. But there are simple tips you can use to curb the tendency to stray from your plan. Learn how to remain true to your goals and practice healthy eating habits no matter where you are.

Set Weight Loss Goals

Setting a clear goal is the first step to making actionable lifestyle changes. Take the time to write out your weight loss goals and motivations for weight loss. This process helps develop a concrete plan that you can refer back to down the line.

As you work on your goals, start by answering these questions:

  • How will weight loss impact my health?
  • Will losing weight enable me to participate in activities that are difficult for me right now?
  • Will my relationships change or improve as a result of losing weight?
  • How will weight loss affect my confidence and self-perception?
  • What are the benefits I stand to gain from making healthier choices?

Weight loss affects everyone differently. If you know the specific weight loss benefits that you'd like to achieve, use them as fuel to motivate you towards healthier choices.

Revisit your plan throughout your weight-loss journey. Add new goals or adjust your methods as your body continues to change. For most people, experiencing the benefits of healthy eating, exercise, and living an active lifestyle can bring about new reasons to stay the course.

Stick to Your Plan

Eating a healthy diet is usually easier when you're at home or by yourself. Social situations bring about different challenges. At parties, happy hours, and even in the workplace lunchroom, you might find yourself surrounded by treats and snacks that you wouldn't normally keep in your home.

Although the occasional indulgence won't negatively impact your ultimate goals, it's important to learn how to make healthy choices in a variety of settings. Use these tips to stick to your plan regardless of your environment.

  • Separate yourself from the food table. This seems like an obvious strategy, but you'd be surprised how often people gravitate toward the kitchen at parties and barbecues. If the group is in the kitchen (surrounded by open bowls of chips and other snacks), ask the host for a tour of the house. You can also find another area to engage with a friend in a one-on-one chat.
  • Face away from the table. If food is constantly available during your event, it can be hard to know how much you're eating. Facing away from the snack or dessert table reduces the urge to continue taking more food. Find a friend, strike up a conversation, and position yourself with your back to the buffet. Try to focus on the social aspects of the event, rather than what's available to eat or drink.
  • Chew a piece of gum. One of the best ways to banish food cravings is to chew gum. Find a strong minty flavor, and keep it readily on hand. Chewing gum will not only leave you with fresh breath, but it can curb the desire for sweet or salty snacks. 
  • Get chatty. Your mother probably told you that it is not polite to talk with food in your mouth. One of the best ways to reduce mindless eating at parties is to talk, talk, talk. Spend time connecting with those around you instead of going back to the serving table for seconds.
  • Avoid alcohol. This tip can be especially difficult during the holidays or on special occasions. Unfortunately, drinking wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages not only provides empty calories, but it can diminish your motivation to make healthy food choices as well. If you choose to imbibe, do so responsibly.
  • Keep a drink in your hand. Even if you avoid alcohol, you can keep a calorie-free, non-alcoholic beverage in hand, such as flavored seltzer or water with lemon. After all, it's harder to eat when one hand is occupied. This gives you a chance to think twice before taking more food if you aren't hungry.
  • Help out the host. Your party host/hostess is sure to appreciate a helping hand at your next social function. Greet guests, set the table, take coats, organize the kids, or offer to do the dishes. Keeping busy at a party means less time for snacking and more time socializing and moving around.
  • Find an accountability buddy. If you know someone who is working on similar goals, agree to hold each other accountable throughout the night. Check-in with each other periodically to stay motivated and remember your original plan.
  • Be open about your goals. Don't be afraid to tell friends, co-workers, or family members that you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Sharing your plans gives you a chance to relate with others who may be working on the same things. Be open and invite those closest to you to be supportive.
  • Create positive self-talk. It is not unusual to feel deprived when you see others indulging in the things that you are trying to limit. Turn that negative thinking around by putting a positive spin on your situation. Before your event, make a list of the benefits that you stand to gain by staying true to your goals. Remind yourself what you're building, rather than focusing on a mindset of deprivation.

A Word From Verywell

It's not easy to change our habits, especially when it feels like no one else is trying to follow a healthy path. With some planning and savvy tricks, we can enjoy social events while still making progress towards our personal goals. Don't be afraid to make your own rules and do what's best for you. Negative social pressures become easier to overcome with practice.

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