Work Party Woes

I am one of those lucky people who likes her job and the people she works with.

There is one thing though that has plagued my relationship with my work location for as long as I’ve been there: food. 

Like most people, my coworkers love to eat! It seems like there’s constantly some sort of food-related event, whether it’s a catered staff meeting, a birthday lunch, or a seasonal party.

I typically avoid the food that my job provides. I meal prep Monday-Friday to make my life easier, and I don’t really like to stray from my plan. Yes, I realize that is not entirely “flexible” dieting. However, if I’m going to enjoy something else, I’d rather it be something I choose!

I have allowed myself to partake in some of our meals, but usually they’re pretty macro-friendly and I’m familiar with the food already (examples here, here and here).

While I’ve been getting a lot more comfortable with uncertainty, I have been dreading this one event: our holiday party.

I knew way in advance (months) that we would be going to Maggiano’s for our annual holiday party. Known for their ridiculous portion sizes and fat-heavy selections, I knew that if I really wanted to have any bit of enjoyment out of this meal, I needed to give myself a pretty generous macro-buffer…probably for my own sanity than for the actual calories necessary.

I am not going to lie. The days leading up to this party were torturous. I was filled with unnecessary food anxieties:

  • Uncertain macros
  • Fear of feeling the urge to binge
  • Eating in front of other people (I don’t really have a real fear of eating in front of other people, but I have kind of a valid reason for feeling anxious about this which I will keep private)
  • Non-typical food (I generally don’t eat Italian food, so I didn’t really know what to expect)

I have an amazing support system of women who understand what it’s like to rely so heavily on the science of their caloric intake and how it affects their bodies. Being so precise in order to achieve a certain physique creates a unique relationship with food. Although dieting is not exactly fun, there’s a strange comfort in knowing the outcome of your intake if you’re dialed in. My friends have been through dieting down for competitions, bulking in their off-seasons, tracking and not tracking, etc. While many people at my work location are health-conscious, I don’t think any of  them have the same feelings as I do — and I envy them for that!

Anyway — sometimes it’s nice to just vent to people who get it. It’s helpful to know that you’re not alone — which is why I even write these things in the first place…in hopes that maybe it will help to ease the mind of some other psycho out there! My friends offered their own experiences and general agreement over the whole thing, which helped, but it didn’t make the problem go away.

The night before I was so uneasy that I seriously considered calling out today.

But that would have been a HUGE fail, and I just couldn’t face myself knowing that I cowered away from FOOD. That’s ridiculous. I told myself:

You have a plan. You have a support system. You have a body which needs to eat. You have an opportunity to spend time with coworkers you like without being at work!

I looked up nutrition information so I could get an idea to of what to expect.

Maggiano’s lists their nutrition facts online, but these are for dinner-sized portions. Since we are a large group, we would be served family-style. This meant that I wouldn’t really have a reference from which to track the portions that I would eat.

I decided to go with generic entries for Italian restaurants from the USDA food list because I could at least guess based on grams. I plugged in some things I thought I would eat… chicken parmesan, ravioli, spaghetti…

I also plugged in the two desserts on our menu (Warm Apple Crostada and Chocolate Zuccotto Cake) and told myself I’d figure the portions out when I got there. I could tell from the pictures that I’d be able to guess how much I ate from the portion size.

Monday-Thursday I had saved 30g of carbs and 20g of fat to use today. That means I had 115p/445c/145f to work with. That is a lot of food — 3545 calories!

Our menu was on the table when we arrived:


While the appetizers looked delicious, I just had a little piece of ciabatta bread. I eat salad every freaking day, so I was fine passing on that. I didn’t try the mushrooms or the fried mozzarella because I would have rather had DESSERT.


My plate!

  • Top left: a piece of ciabatta roll
  • Top right: warm apple crostada and chocolate zuccotto cake 😀 😀
  • Bottom left: grilled asparagus with parmesan; spaghetti with meat sauce
  • Bottom right: chicken parmesan and four cheese ravioli

My entry looks like this:


The ravioli was served on a pool of alfredo sauce, so I added some in. I also added in additional oil and butter because restaurants typically are very generous with those. I eyeballed the portions for everything. I may have overestimated a bit on the chicken parmesan but when you’re eating out, it’s usually better to overestimate anyway.

Really it was not as terrible as I thought it would be. The fats for this meal alone are more than my daily “allowance” but since I planned ahead, I still had plenty of room for the rest of the day.

I liked everything I ate, but I wouldn’t say I was crazy about it. Italian food just isn’t my thing. I LOVED both desserts though.

And guess what? The servers gave me an ENTIRE SLICE to take home with me.

1 slice of that thing is 21p/173c/112f. ONE-HUNDRED AND TWELVE FAT.

But I had enough calories left over, even with adding in a salad for dinner, to eat the entire thing.

And you better believe I did. 😀

I hit like 80% of my protein which was good, and borrowed from my carbs to give myself more calories from fat. I ended the day with 94p/342c/199.5f — 3538 calories.

And guess what. The scale did not even go up the next day. THE BODY IS INCREDIBLE.

Time for my evaluations.

Win: I’d consider it a win to be able to eat that much in a day — HA.

Win: Finding reasonable estimates for uncertain macros.

Win: Getting out of my comfort zone and letting myself enjoy food

Win: Giving myself a calorie day! I usually nail my normal macros head on, but since I had a pretty decent protein intake already, I was good to swap some carbs for fats. This will definitely be a tactic I use in the future if I have to go to another fat-heavy restaurant again.

Opportunity: I should not have let myself get so anxious about this stupid party. I’m not going to lie, I even reached out to Maggiano’s to see if they could give me more specific information about portion sizes so that I could track from their provided macro counts. How embarrassing is that?

Opportunity: I saved way too many calories — but it was awesome eating an entire huge slice of cake last night!

The more I do this, the better I feel about dealing with uncertainty. Which is great because tomorrow I am going on an adventure of the American Southwest. I’ve decided to take this opportunity to NOT track for an ENTIRE WEEK while I am out there. I don’t want this experience to be tainted with food anxiety. I will update as much as I can while I am out there!

Happy Saturday 🙂

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