By Tana and Dr. Daniel Amen

Simply attending parties and dining out during the holidays can sabotage your greatest health intentions, especially if your friends, family, co-workers and other hosts are disguised as food pushers!


We can even feel guilty when:

  • We show up to someone’s home and say we’re not eating.
  • When we don’t want to eat what the host is serving, while they are telling you how they slaved to make this meal especially for you!

So should you avoid the dinner parties, or give in? It’s best not to allow yourself to be put into compromising situations without a plan.

Here are simple strategies for dealing holiday food pushers:

  1. Call ahead to find out what is being served and to inform the host you are on a special brain healthy diet (or The Daniel Plan) and won’t be able to eat certain foods. Ask the host if they mind if you bring a dish (or two) to accommodate the way you eat. Most people appreciate the help, and it gives you an opportunity to share how healthy the item is and about The Daniel Plan.
  2. Carry and eat nuts or seeds during the day to help satiate your hunger so when someone offers you a tempting treat, you won’t feel like it’s worth it. Also, keep an ice chest in the car and fill it with your back-up foods. When the unhealthy snacks or desserts show up, excuse yourself for a moment to get some fresh air, and dive into your emergency stash of the healthy options.
  3. Be upfront with food pushers. Explain that you are trying to eat a more balanced diet, and that when they offer you cake, chips, or pizza, it makes it more difficult for you.
  4. If someone pushes you to drink alcohol, ask for sparkling water with a splash of cranberry or slice of lemon.
  5. Eat very slowly so when the host starts asking guests if they want seconds, you can say you are still working on your first helping. If they do ask, tell them you are pleasantly full. If they insist, explain that you are trying to watch your calories. If they continue to push extra helpings on you, just say “no thank you.”
  6. Avoid visiting with co-workers who have a bowl of candy on their desk.
  7. Tell restaurant servers “no bread” or “no chips” and “no desserts” before you’re seated. Just say no to “super-sizing” anything. Ask for water or green tea if someone orders an unhealthy appetizer for the table.
  8. Ask your spouse not to eat trigger foods in front of you. If family members are eating foods that tempt you, leave the room until they finish. Ask grandparents to avoid giving treats as rewards to your children.
  9. Donate money to the Girl Scouts rather than buying cookies.
  10. Make it a rule NEVER to take free food samples ANYWHERE!

Finally, we realize we’re not perfect, so when temptation wins out, use the three-bite rule. Take three bites of the item, then toss it or set it aside.