It's an all-too-common scenario: You've been doing a bang-up job keeping your eating habits under control, but then there's that one event – e.g., a holiday gathering, office party, hotel breakfast buffet, or a night out at a restaurant with friends – that completely blows your diet to smithereens. Of course, the feelings of guilt and disappointment inevitably follow, and now you have to build up positive momentum all over again, which is no easy task.
Is there any way to escape this trap? Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent a diet derailment; below are five tips to help you maintain your healthy eating habits no matter the occasion.
1. Never go on an empty stomach.
If you arrive at a food-laden event with an empty, growling stomach, you're asking for trouble. The best way to keep your head is to engage in some "strategic eating" on the day of the event. For example, if you're going to a big dinner party later in the evening, eat a few small healthy meals earlier in the day, so that you won't be starving by the time you arrive.
2. Water is your best friend.
Drink plenty of water before the event, as this is a great way to curb hunger pangs and promote healthy digestion. Drinking two full glasses of water about an hour before you're scheduled to eat will help you tame an unruly stomach, allowing you to approach meal time with a more level head.
3. Substitute unhealthy side dishes with healthy ones.
When eating at a restaurant, consider substituting healthier options for the default side dishes. For example, go for some steamed vegetables instead of that loaded baked potato. That way, if you happen to indulge in another area (e.g., dessert), you won't be throwing the entire meal off balance, as you will have reigned in the overall calorie count through wise substitution choices.
4. Practice portion control.
There are several ways to practice portion control without feeling like you're depriving yourself. For example, if you're at a buffet-style dinner party, get small to moderate-sized portions on your first go-round. Once you've eaten what's on your plate, take a moment to assess whether or not you're even still hungry before making a second trip to the buffet table. This is much better than just piling on the portions the first time
When dining out, take advantage of the takeout box. Many restaurants provide generous portions of food, so you could probably get away with eating only about one-half to three-fourths of your meal while you're there, and then you can take the rest home to eat some other time.
5. Maintain the proper perspective.
Anytime you're out of your usual eating element, it can be easy to throw off your self-restraint for the sake of "living in the moment." While there's a place for that in life, you don't want to YOLO yourself right into weight gain and poor health. Try to maintain the proper perspective – after all, this is only one event, one dinner party,
As the famous saying goes, "Don't sacrifice what you want most for what you want now." Commit to practicing the tips outlined here, and you'll be able to uphold your healthy eating standards without missing a beat.