Regarding events and restaurants, it is really easy to just stick to lean protein and vegetables. Even at the diner I went to once a month with friends I found a ginormous shrimp salad. I tell them no croutons and no bread on the side, and just do the "dip the fork tines in the dressing" thing, adding some vinegar I brought myself to the salad itself. Even at a Spanish tapas place with a bunch of old girlfriends I enjoyed the protein and veg, and just let the pasta, bread, potatoes be. Maybe because I felt full, and was not full of guilt for overindulging it did not seem that hard.
As for weight loss- if you really stay on plan it is inevitable. I got lots of comments the first two months that I did not look bloaty anymore, and I felt that way too.
The questions can be hard, but it is worth it!
As to the sugar free gum and candy, you really have to watch it and be honest with yourself and your sponsor. It can be a slippery slope. When we are used to having something in our mouths to "comfort" us we still are giving food the power instead of our HP. I had a friend who was very successful with HOW and was my sponsor for a while. She told me that at one point in her journey she was going to the specialty candy store and getting bags of all kinds of expensive sugar free stuff (there is so much available these days), and pretty much binging on it, by herself, in the car- old behavior that she was justifying as o.k. She finally talked to her sponsor about it and moved on in her program and away from the vast quantities of sugar free. Everybody is different, and this post is in no way judging you, just giving you a heads up that it can become a problem for us food-obsessed types!