What is it about parties that make them such a healthy-eating nemesis? Why is it that it’s surprisingly easy to overeat? Or “cheat” on your way of eating?

I only wish I knew…

Perhaps its the abundance of choices, and the opportunity to try new things. Maybe it’s the distraction of (usually) standing up and socializing while eating, thus not realizing how much has been consumed. Or for some, it might be the social anxiety of being surrounded by so many people. Or possibly comparison syndrome (or the senseĀ of being judged), causing feelings of inadequacy, which leads to eating to drown those feelings.

At a fundamental level, I suspect it’s really just about being disconnected from the body and therefore missing it’s hunger and satiety signals. At a party, it’s nearly impossible to be totally settled, grounded, and in touch with the body.

Whatever the reason, here are

4 Strategies to Eat Smart at Parties

1. Set a goal and develop a plan.

To be successful with anything, you need to know where you want to go, what it’s going to take to get there, and how you want to feel.

Before the party is when you need to think about those questions and let your body wisdom guide your eating strategy.

Visualize yourself being successful: run-through the event in your mind before it starts, and then again when you see the food options. The more your visualize and feel yourself following your plan, the more you wire your brain to follow-through with that behavior.

For more on this, check out this blog post.

2. Think drinks.

Low- or no-calorie drinks, that is. The more you fill up on 0-cal drinks like water and tea, the less there’s room for overeating.

Likewise, if you’re the type of person that must always have something in your hands or mouth to feel satisfied, this is the way to do it. Perhaps a bottle of water in one hand, and a hot cup of BeLight Tea in the other–keeping those cravings and snacking tendencies in check.

(Tea also makes a great no-cal base for cocktails and mocktails. Check out a few here, but a word of caution on the alcohol–it can lower resolve and up cravings so you end up eating more.)

3. Eat before the party.

Particularly if it’s not a dinner party, or you know food is served notoriously late, then employ this is a classic healthy-eating party strategy. Eat something nutrient-dense and moderately filling before the party gets started. Think eggs with veg, or Greek yogurt with berries and nuts, or a big leafy green salad.

Eating something filling but low calorie–and checking in with your body on it’s true hunger and satiety signals–will buy you at least a couple of hours of feeling satisfied before you’re even tempted to look at the food options.

4. Host or help.

When you’re hosting or helping the host, there’s always something to do: clear away dishes, refill drinks or food displays, check the oven, clean up, etc.

The more you move about, the more calories you burn and the less time you have to stop and eat. Just don’t sneak a snack every time you pass the food table.

And whether or not you follow your eating plan or consider the event a personal success (as far as eating), your first priority should always be to accept and love yourself.

This is a practice. Each time you encounter a healthy-eating nemesis, you have an opportunity to practice–practice following a plan, making smart choices, eating mindfully, and loving yourself no matter what. It’s just like building a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger and better you get.

I hope these tips help you develop your own smart eating strategies for parties or any other challenging eating situation.

And always remember, self-love and self-acceptance are the name of the game. Plus, keep BeLight Tea handy for help with digestion and keeping the party pounds away.