Every season comes with new opportunities for get-togethers with friends or family. This means food – lots of it – and usually not the healthy kind. Whether it’s a thanksgiving dinner with a giant turkey, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, wine and cheesecake with your girlfriends, or beers on a patio in the summertime – dieters face the same dilemma – how can you get through the meal without eating too much and sabotaging your weight loss goals?
Don’t Let Subtle Social Pressure Sabotage Your Goals
The biggest problem dieters face when it comes to these potentially difficult dieting situations is that the social pressure to indulge overwhelms the desire to eat healthy. When everyone else around you is heaping generous portions of high-calorie foods onto their plate or ordering desert, it’s hard not to go along.
Normally, our advice would be to avoid temptation altogether, but when you’re in a social situation where you’re forced to confront your temptations head on this isn’t an option. In these situations, you’ll need to plan ahead. If you wait until you’re facing temptation to decide what to do – you’re already too late. Here are 5 steps to take when you’re faced with a social gathering that involves food.
1. Plan Ahead
So you know there’s an upcmoing social situation where there will be large amounts of tasty, but unhealthy food. What can you do to reign in your calorie intake while you watch everyone else indulge in their favorite, guilty dishes?
One of the most important steps is to plan ahead. What kind of gathering are you going to? Are you going to a restaurant? If so, it may be wise to look up the menu beforehand and find a healthy dish to order. This way you’re committed to selecting a healthy choice beforehand rather than forcing yourself to make a spur of the moment selection while your friends are choosing savory, high calorie dishes.
Is it a potluck or a picnic? You’re in luck – why not bring one of your own healthy, tasty dishes that you and everyone else can enjoy? You might be surprised at how easy it is to eat healthy at social gatherings if you take a few minutes to plan ahead.
2. Leave Room For Flexibility and Hold The Guilt
Sometimes you’ll be faced with a spontaneous situation where you don’t have a chance to plan ahead, and there are simply no healthy options on the menu. That’s ok, the important thing is that you don’t beat yourself up with guilt and you remember that eating a little unhealthy one night won’t necessarily derail your diet, especially if you approach everything with moderation in mind.
Are there any smaller portions you can order? What’s the healthiest option on the menu? If you’re having a turkey dinner, eating white turkey breast without gravy or stuffing can save you from hundreds of needless calories. Allow yourself some flexibility to enjoy the food in moderation, but just because there are no healthy foods available, doesn’t mean you have to indulge in large portions or take the least healthy options available.
3. Eat Beforehand
A great way to minimize temptation is to ensure that you never go to a restaurant or dinner party hungry. You don’t need to eat a full meal, but eating a little something to keep the hunger away before the event will help you control yourself when faced with a table full of temptation.
Choose something low-calorie, tasty, and just filling enough so that you won’t be hungry in an hour or two, but not so filling that you can’t still enjoy some food at your get-together. A hearty soup or a large salad can be a good way to save off hunger before your social event.
4. Forego Future Cheat Meals
If there’s no way to avoid extra calories, you can balance out your diet by cutting back on calories earlier in the day (but be sure to eat something before the event), or foregoing cheat meals on future days.
This doesn’t mean starving yourself or skipping meals altogether. But if you were going to reward yourself with a cheat meal on Saturday but you went out on Friday and enjoyed a little wine and desert with friends, you could forego the cheat meal the following day in favor of a healthier dish. Even better, skip the cheat meal from the Saturday before the event, so you can enjoy your Friday wine and dessert guilt-free.
5. Enjoy Yourself
So you’ve selected the healthiest options you can, committed to eating smaller portions, and had a little snack beforehand to ensure that you’re not too hungry. At this point, don’t be afraid to have a little fun. Stressing out over every calorie when you’re amongst friends or family will only serve to make you miserable, which will hurt your long term efforts to live a healthy lifestyle.
At the end of the day, isn’t enjoying the company of your loved ones more important than a few calories? Just stick to the steps above, and remember that your enjoyment of the event doesn’t have to begin and end with food.
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