We are moving towards a season where there will be more invitations to eat. Whether you have company coming over or you’re invited to a party, visiting with friends or relatives puts excessive pressure on you to eat more than you what you had planned.

Remember that if you tend to feel pressure to eat more than planned, try to work out exactly what makes you feel this way. Are you concerned that people will be offended if you do no eat everything you are offered, or that you will draw attention to yourself if you do not eat as much as everyone else? If you can work out precisely what the problem is, it will be easier to think of ways to cope. For example, if you are concerned that your host will be offended if you do not eat much, you might decide that it would be helpful to practice saying “No” politely but firmly. You could test out whether politely declining foods is likely to cause offence. You might do this by thinking about how you would feel if you were the host and someone declined food in this way.

If you are concerned about drawing attention to yourself by not doing what everyone else is doing, you might observe the reactions of others to people who, for example, are not drinking alcohol, perhaps because they are driving, or perhaps simply because it is their preference not to do so. Ask yourself whether you would react negatively to someone making a conscious decision not to drink to excess. I suspect it is unlikely. So, don’t be influenced by others. Eat what is appropriate for you and no more, drink what is appropriate for you and no more, and be happy and self-confident with your decision.

If it’s an unexpected situation, where someone drops over or phones and wants to go out for lunch, take some time in responding, so that you know how best to handle the situation. If you have already had something to eat, arrange another time to go out with that person or explain that you will accompany her/him but that you will only have a small amount as you have already eaten. Don’t let someone else take you off track simply because you want to appear ‘kind.’ Pause, decide what is best for you, and follow through with that decision.

Sometimes in social situations you might feel ‘deprived’ because you are surrounded by high-calorie food and drink. This is a normal feeling. But ask yourself, “Just because I’m going to eat less and drink less than others, does it really make the event less enjoyable?” Focus on the event itself as a source of relaxation, and a time to talk to friends, not as an event that will ‘allow’ you to eat excessively.

Always be on your guard. Always remember that you are eating for you and not to please someone else.

You can do it. Just keep trying. Don’t ever give up.

Dr. Doug