If social events are always interfering with your “eat-well” intentions, it might be time to change your habits. Social events and parties don’t have to be about the food. In fact, they shouldn’t be. The sooner you learn about taking the focus off the food, the sooner your waistline will thank you.

Find a Group of People to Join

This is especially important if you’re attending the event alone and don’t know anybody there. Why? Because chances are you’ll end up eating just to pass the time. Don’t be afraid to wander around from group to group if you can’t find any group you want to spend all night with. The key is to keep yourself busy chatting so you don’t focus on food. If you’re not spending at least 70 percent of your time mingling, you’re doing it wrong.

Plan or Suggest a Non-food Event

If you have any say on how the event will go, try to steer it away from food. Don’t meet for dinner or at a buffet. Instead, organize a scavenger party or go somewhere together — anything from a walking tour to an amusement park can become a good venue if you plan things well. If you’re going to be organizing your own event, go for a themed party. It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing a 70s party or a pool party, as long as the activities are all about the people and the fun, rather than what’s on the table.

Take Part in Any and All Activities Offered

Does the event include games, contests, or other activities that encourage group participation? If yes, join as many as you can. This will occupy at least part of the time so you stay away from the food table. No games available? Make up your own by engaging people into charades, guessing games, or storytelling.

Set Boundaries Before You Go into the Event

For example, if you’re at a buffet, tell yourself you’ll try a new bite of food for every 20 minutes of conversation. Or fill your plate once every half an hour, even if you finish your previous plate in just a couple of minutes. And don’t forget to eat something before you get there, otherwise you’ll be famished and will end up overeating as a result.

Walk Outside in Between Meals

If you’re not the one organizing the event, you might not have a say in the food focus, but you can still choose to walk away  (at least temporarily) so you don’t have to continuously look at all the food available. If you can walk outside, do so. A bit of fresh air and a change in scenery might be all you need to take the focus off food. If going outdoors is not an option, try just walking away from the table for a while. The change in perspective will distract you long enough to keep you from overeating.