What normally happens when you go out to eat or are at a social event? Are you aware of how much you eat? Do you often eat past fullness and find yourself feeling uncomfortable? Maybe that is because you tend to eat larger portions or not pay attention to your own hunger and fullness. You probably had a week of being “good” on your diet and then the weekend comes. You eat out, you attend a party and all your hard work during the week goes down the tubes, right? Here is how to avoid weight gain at restaurants and social events with 3 easy tools.

You no longer have to start and stop your diet

You can eat the same way all week whether you’re at a restaurant or not. The key to this type of eating is all about mindfulness. Engaging in mindful eating will help you avoid weight gain in restaurants and social events. The simple reason is that mindfulness entails being in tune with your body. You are aware of various sensations and therefore can be in control of what you eat, how much you eat, and therefore, maintain comfort in your body while avoiding weight gain.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about awareness. Being aware of your relationship with food versus being on autopilot and eating without any awareness as to how it is making your body feel. The sole purpose of mindful eating is to be build a better relationship with food, and therefore a better relationship with your body. Mindfulness helps honor your body in what it needs and wants.

I know it may seem odd to think you have a relationship with food, but you do. It’s either a healthy relationship or toxic one. Just like any relationship you have, mindfulness with your eating is about building awareness to the emotional and physical sensations when eating.

Here are some examples of how to build a better relationship with food with mindfulness

  1. Stay aware, make conscious choices of what you’re eating.
  2. When considering what to eat, think how the food will make you feel.
  3. Connect to all 5 senses to increase awareness and really enjoy the experience.
  4. Do not judge what you or others are eating.
  5. Notice your own cues of satiation.

Research shows that mindfulness helps avoid weight gain at restaurants and in daily life. According to this article in positive psychology, a study found that applying a mindfulness-based weight loss program not only leads to significant weight loss but a greater sense of cognitive restraint around eating, a decrease in binge eating, depression, perceived stress, and negative affect (Dalen, Smith, Shelley, Sloan, Leahigh, & Begay, 2010).

There was also a specific intervention focused on mindful eating at restaurants which proved to be effective in helping women manage their weight. In addition, women who participated in the intervention lost weight, lowered their average daily caloric intake and fat intake, and enjoyed increased diet-related self-efficacy (i.e., felt more confident about their ability to lose weight; Timmerman & Brown, 2012).

Mindful eating works! Now it’s simply time to apply it to your life

6 Easy tools to help you avoid weight gain in restaurants and social events

  1. Use 2 plates. Before you eat, cut your meal in half, and check in with yourself to see if you’re still hungry before going to the second plate.
  2. Eat slowly and if using a fork (vs finger food) put your fork down between bites.
  3. Don’t go the event or restaurant too hungry. This will usually lead to overeating and feeling uncomfortable.
  4. Look at the menu or if you can, find out what is being served at the social event.
  5. Connect to your 5 senses throughout the experience. Keep checking in.
  6. Try to practice what is called dual awareness. That is being aware of your body while also being aware of the people and conversations around you at the same time.

With these 6 easy tools and with the incorporation of mindful eating, you can enjoy dining out, going to social events, as well as your everyday life, and avoid gaining any weight. Doesn’t that sound a lot better than dieting during the week only to gain weight when you dine out or attend a social event?

It’s normal for weight to fluctuate within a range

If eating in a restaurant or social event causes a slight gain, that is normal. With mindful eating on a regular basis, your weight will stay within a range, so you don’t need to restrict and then panic if your weight goes up.

It takes practice to learn how to trust your body has the wisdom to know what it needs and wants in a variety of settings. Be gentle with yourself as you practice mindfulness and don’t hesitate to reach out for added support to help you on your journey.

Lesley Goth, PsyD is a weight loss coach. She teaches women in her 11-week online program how to attain sustainable weight loss. She does this through a variety of mindfulness tools as well as helping women understand the underlying emotional issues that keep them stuck in either a yo-yo cycle or weight gain trend. You can learn more in her free class that teaches you how to change your shape and stay that way! Register here.