When you’re suffering from food addiction or struggling with binge eating, mealtime with family can turn an already complicated dynamic into quantum physics.

With so much of binging behaviors rooted in loneliness, fear, and shame, it is important to note some helpful ways to combat and plan ahead for a family meal. As the old homage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. So what can you do ahead of time to ensure your time with family leaves you relatively unscathed and still on track with your goals?

First, try to get a good idea of what you’ll eat ahead of time. Look at the menu, ask the host or hostess what is being served, and don’t forget to pack an extra snack on the off chance there really isn’t anything on your food plan being offered. If it’s a restaurant and there’s a menu, order what you have committed to eating. If food is being served buffet style, commit to one plate of food that’s on par with your plan.

Also, don’t be afraid to excuse yourself for a minute or two. Families can be stressful to say the least. The Spanish Inquisition has nothing on the prying parent who wants the time and location of your most recent date as well as the balance on your 401k. Excuse yourself to the bathroom or walk outside for a few minutes of fresh air, but know that third trip back to the buffet isn’t going to solve any of your problems.

Set up an ICOE contact. In case of emergency contacts, not reserved just for your employers. Before a meal with family, designate an in case of emergency point person, someone you can text or call if things are getting too stressful. The third piece of sheet cake is not your ICOE.

Formulate a “what’s next?” plan as well. Binge eating is often done in solitude, and you don’t want to spend your quality time with family daydreaming about the binge that’s going to happen the second you get home.

Eat a meal that will leave you feeling nourished and satisfied, and plan for your decompression time when you get home in the way of things that leave you feeling better, not worse. Get those new essential oils, and that incredible smelling candle and leave them right next to the bathtub so it’s ready and waiting for a hot bath or shower when you get home, or find something that works for you!

Either way, setting up a plan for when you leave that does not involve a binge is a great way to ensure success in your lifestyle goals.

Shine bright!

Photo by Jaco Pretorius on Unsplash