D.U.I. Dining Under the Influence (of Thin Thinking)



Dining Under the Influence (of Thin Thinking)

Research shows that we nearly double our consumption of calories while in social situations. Social Eating is a huge part of summer life when weddings, graduations, weekend BBQs, picnics and group restaurant events abound.

How can we navigate these social scenarios with mastery so we can continue our weight release journey or maintain our healthy weight?  Here are some key thinking and behavioral strategies to help!

Fat Thinking Crime Report

It all seemed so innocent in the beginning.  Mary got invited to a friend’s summer BBQ and was excited.  She had been losing some weight and hoped to keep going over the summer.  In her mind, she briefly thought about the party and the impact that it might have on her “diet”.  “Oh, I’ve been so good recently” she thought, “it will be easy to be good at the BBQ—I’ll just have some chicken and a little salad and that will be that.”

Mary stops at the store to pick up cupcakes for her friend Nancy, the hostess, who had asked that she bring a dessert. “I won’t eat any of these, but I am sure other people will like them,” she says to herself as she walks in the front door of Nancy’s home.

Mary heads into the backyard where the BBQ gathering is going full blast.  Nancy’s husband, Jim, immediately hands Mary a cocktail.  Mary refuses, “no thanks” but Jim insists, “C’mon Mary I made up the recipe—try it!”  Mary, not wanting to let Jim down, tries a sip.  Even though it really isnt’ her type of drink and even though she didn’t plan to drink anything Mary continues to drink it, “I’ll just have this drink and some chicken and salad and that will be that.”

Pretty soon the sugar and the alcohol in the cocktail begins hitting Mary’s empty stomach and does two things to Mary:

1)  It makes her all of a sudden very hungry as her blood sugar spiked and then dropped.

2)  Because of the sugar on her empty stomach, she also wants “something more”– more sugars—more carbs—the little carb monster has been awakened and of a sudden Mary is a little more interested in all the food that is on the buffet table—all of it except the chicken and salad, that is.

Mary now heads over to where her friends are standing by the chips and guacamole.  As they chat, Mary is compelled to munch the chips along with her pals.  She mindlessly eats quite a few and realizes what she has done.  Now a voice goes off in her head, “you blew it Mary!  This party is a write off so you may as well hit the buffet and have at it.”–which she does.

Two hours later Mary has been through the buffet table twice and has eaten her fair share of some pies and cookies from the dessert table.  She had to try that lemon meringue—her friend Sue insisted– and the cookies, well they just ended up in her mouth somehow…. Mary’s intentions of just eating that chicken and salad is now a faint memory in her distant past.  Her head is spinning as she leaves Nancy’s house.  Nancy manages to hand Mary the leftover cupcakes that she brought as she heads out the door. Nancy says, “you take them Mary, I’ll just eat them if they stay here.”

Mary heads home ready to crash, feeling mad at herself for not being good.  So mad at herself she manages to eat a few of the cupcakes from the party as she stands at the kitchen sink thinking about her behavior until she heads to bed feeling like a failure and knowing that she will never be thin.

It’s an all too familiar crime scene—dining under the influence of fat thinking–and one that could have been avoided if Mary had just SHIFTED into some thin thinking instead.

How to SHIFT into THIN Thinking in Social Situations

Mary was guilty of a number of Fat Thinking misdemeanors in the story above.  Let’s break the social eating crime scene down and offer some Thin Thinking alternatives.


In the story above, Mary did very little planning before the party. Because she was on a “diet” she assumed that she was going to be “good” and eat only a salad and chicken.  Her lack of preparing, both mentally and physically, was the main reason that she ended up losing control and overeating.

Planning ahead is the cornerstone of weight mastery.  Why? Thinking the day through allows your brain to recognize potential challenges and practice strategies beforehand before you find yourself in the overwhelming stimulation of an event and all the social pressures that go with it.

Here are some things you can do to prepare to succeed at a social event:

1-Create a vision: Know what you want to feel like at the end of the event— what you want to feel like in your body, in your clothes, and in your mind.  Create a specific picture. make it so real you can feel it and get excited about it.  This engages your brain in going to work with you to achieve your vision.

2Bank (save up) calories ahead of time with less food or extra exercise  This way you have some room in your calorie budget to eat more than just chicken and salad, which is more realistic and enjoyable.

3-Bring a salad or vegetable instead of a dessert:  Even if no one else wants it or eats it –you can!

4-Practice responses to food pushers ahead of time:  It’s hard to say no to zealous hosts, but sometimes you have to in order to achieve your desired outcome. Sample responses below:

“No thank you.”‘I am already full, but thanks.  You did a great job with this party…(change the subject fast).”

“No more please, but hey, let me help you clean up a bit”

“I have a metabolic condition and that keeps me from eating that. Sorry, but it looks delicious!”

“I have noticed that sugar and flour causes blood sugar issues for me so I am going to pass.”

“I am allergic but sorry that looks great!”

“Wow that looks tasty but I am sugar sensitive and if I overindulge I feel awful the next day (you don’t have to tell them awful means guilty or regretful).

“That looks amazing—did you make that?  Wow.  I am going to pass but thanks for offering!”

Mary got to the event and immediately fell prey to external circumstances.  Because you will have prepared, you will do much better but here are some more strategies to employ while at the party itself.

1-Focus on people and not on food:  Have a goal to speak to 5 people at the party or to help out the hostess.  If you do not have a plan, the world has one for you and it probably means overeating—so ask yourself what is your people mission for the party and carry it out—allow the food to be in the background of the event.

2-Steer clear of the buffet table and have conversation away from food.

3-Have a plan if you plan to drink and keep it light:  Drink water in between and never drink on an empty stomach!

4-Move: Help out the hostess, get a game of ball going with the kids, ask some people there if they want to go for a walk before or after eating.

5-Scope out the buffet table before eating and focus on the greens and lean proteins and fruits.  For the more densely caloric comfort foods –use the 3-bite rule of thumb—especially at the dessert table.

6-After eating, help clean up—it’s a great way to help your hosts and to mingle—and you will be too busy to go back for seconds.


Mary also failed to take care of herself when she came home and ended up eating even more.  Here are some tips on the post-party head game.

1-Do not bring food home:  Hostesses love to give out dessert to take home—don’t take it!  Better it ends up anywhere else than in your mouth.

2-Plan your coming home strategy so it doesn’t end up being you in front of the fridge.  Many people eat after social events not out of hunger but because it’s an automatic response to unwinding from social stress.

3-Record what you ate at the party to keep yourself out of the “I blew it head” Chances are you didn’t go over your calories and if you did, you can now strategize a way to compensate or to be okay with going over (which is not the end of the world).

4-Review: Learn from the event.  What worked well for you? What didn’t? And what solutions can you create for next time?  See this as a learning curve that you will master.

Now you are set and ready for the social season! Here’s to a great healthy summer!


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