Take a lap around the table.
Before you grab a plate and jump in the food line, take a look at what is offered. Results of observational research conducted by Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University report that this practice is a characteristic shared by thinner people versus those who are overweight. Circle the buffet table and put all of the foods into three categories -- savor, sample, and skip. Take an appropriate portion of the foods you must try, take a taste of those that spark your curiosity, and skip foods that are not special to the occasion.
Use a smaller plate.
That same study by Wansink also showed that thinner people were about seven times more likely to select a smaller plate when eating at a buffet. So sneak to the dessert table for your plate and keep your portions under control. If you are hosting the cookout, offer your guests a few sizes of dinner plates to encourage healthier eating.
Grab the furthest seat.
When you sit with food in sight, or worse, within arms reach, it can tempt you to eat more. After you fill your plate, grab a seat as far from the food as possible. Making food even slightly more inconvenient may help you rethink the idea of a second helping.
Contribute lighter options.
Many parties are potluck affairs so take the opportunity to bring a healthier dish. Simple changes to your favorite picnic foods, such as substituting brown mustard or Greek yogurt in mayonnaise-based dressings and adding extra vegetables to a pasta salad, reduces calories and fat without sacrificing the familiar flavor. (See Healthy Tips to Lighten Up Picnic Foods.)
Know your strategy.
If you want to stay on track, but have no plan in place, you set yourself up for overeating. Your strategy doesn’t have to include denying yourself all of your favorite foods. Decide how they will work into your current eating and exercise plan. Enjoy a healthy breakfast and a morning workout the day of the party. Plan what and how much you will eat. You may not know exactly what will be served, but making a plan to have one serving of dessert and one alcoholic beverage will help you stay on track.
Be aware of emotional eating.
Everything from happiness and excitement to anxiety and stress can lead to emotional eating. Know how you react in social situations. Sometimes they can cause anxiety, especially if you are meeting new people. Simply taking notice of how you feel and not allowing it to cause you to graze the food table will help you avoid overeating.