We stand at the edge of the Silly Season – when our opportunities to eat, drink and be merry multiply as the mercury rises. But how can you make sure the celebrations don’t create another New Year’s Resolution to lose the weight you put on during December?
Eating and drinking serve so many purposes in our society beyond satisfying hunger. They are used to celebrate, to make ourselves feel temporarily less miserable/lonely/guilty/uncomfortable/ bored, as a way of smoothing awkward social situations and breaking the ice with strangers, as rewards for pushing through difficult situations. Whether we’re happy, sad or indifferent, we think a drink or a snack will make a bad situation better and a good situation a great one.
One way to keep your eating and drinking in check over Christmas is to work out what each event you attend is really ‘about’ for you. Each event gets assigned a purpose, and then you concentrate on the best way to fulfil that purpose, rather than mindlessly eating and drinking your way through all of them. For example:
Work Christmas Party
This party’s purpose might be to impress your boss or to maximise networking opportunities. Don’t let talking with your mouth full get in the way of that! Eat beforehand so you can concentrate on your schmooze. Plan what facts about your work prowess you want to drop into conversations at appropriate times. And use the pregnant woman trick – hold a glass, but rarely drink from it. Get so involved in your discussions with colleagues that your food refusal is seen as eliminating an annoying distraction whilst you talk and listen, rather than eliciting any questions about diet.
Partner’s Work Christmas Party
Going to a party because your partner asked you to? Then the purpose is to make them happy. Rather than eating and drinking to alleviate feelings of boredom and uncomfortableness, figure out what they need from you and focus on that. Perhaps it’s to dress to impress, to be able to stand with the other partners and engage in chit chat, or to laugh at their boss’s jokes? If you put all your energy into doing your best to support them, then you’re less likely to experience negative feelings and eat/drink as an escape.
Friends/ Family Party
Catching up with friends or family? Make them the focus of your evening. Concentrate on getting the full details of their lives, and give yours in return. Don’t waste the opportunity to really connect by drinking so much that friends end up spending their time holding your hair while you vomit. Yes a good friend will do this, but they’d rather be laughing with you.
Loyalty/ Subscriber/ Customer Party
Are you the one being schmoozed and just going to this party just because you know the food will be good? Then get as much out of that as possible. Don’t eat beforehand, and don’t drink alcohol – it dulls the senses so you don’t taste as much, plus you’ll get fuller quicker when drinking. Pay close attention to what you’re eating, really savouring the taste/ smell/ presentation, so you wring maximal enjoyment from what you’re consuming. Limit conversations to enough to get you invited back next year.
Dividing up events this way allows you to appreciate and maximise the unique opportunities each provides (I only get one chance to…/ I’ve only got to survive one…), as well as breaking the habit of over eating and drinking your way through them all.
Lana Hall, Psychologist. Helping you to live your best life, using the power of psychology.