The biggest thing I do is to bring my own healthy option, so that I know that there will be something that I can eat that will be physique-friendly. Usually it's a fruit and veggie tray with hummus, my Superfood Salad, grilled chicken (if I know there will be only hotdogs or fried chicken), or a cucumber and tomato salad. If all else fails, I always have a protein bar in my purse.
As you're loading up your plate, prioritize protein and raw veggies. Protein, even if it is a bit fatty like a hamburger, can fill you up and minimize the need to go back for seconds. Skip the bun or any extras that just aren't worth the calories or add much enjoyment to the meal.
Resist the urge to fill up your plate. It's tempting to want to try a little bit of everything, but take a look at the table as a whole and pick just a few things to try. The more varieties of food on your plate, the more likely you are to eat more than you intend.
Drinking lots of water or unsweetened iced tea (or sweetened with stevia) not only keeps you hydrated of course, but also keeps your hands and mouth occupied without adding excess calories.
If you do choose to imbibe, grab a lighter option, such as a light beer, or my favorite, a white wine spritzer --- half wine, half Sprite Zero (add some berries or peaches for a festive touch).
One way to get some distance between you and the temptations of the buffet is to get a game started, such a cornhole (a Midwestern favorite where you toss beanbags through a hole in a wooden target on the ground), volleyball, kickball, or even a board game. It'll keep your mind off the food and add to your enjoyment of the day.
And most of all, relax! Enjoy the day with your friends and family. That's what it's all about, not the food. If you do overindulge, forgive yourself and move on. Guilt is useless here. Just learn from it and get back on track at the very next meal. And if you do choose ahead of time that you will go off-plan and indulge in a few sugary, fatty treats, do so mindfully. Pick the things that will give you most enjoyment and skip the ones (like chips) that you can have anytime.
By acting mindfully, you can minimize any setback to your plan and goals while still having fun with the people you love. Being on a diet doesn't mean that you have to skip social time or sit in a corner eating rabbit food while everyone else digs in with gusto. Going in with a mindset of eating according to your goals versus feelings of deprivation is a game changer. Perspective is everything.