When you train people for any length of time you start to notice certain behaviors that are common to most clients. Time and time again I see some normally successful dieters be derailed by a few challenging situations. These situations are difficult when you’re trying to keep on the successful diet track, but with some simple strategies you can help fight your way through the temptations and urges associated with them.
Parties and Social Gatherings
Good times, plentiful food, and bad choices. There’s nothing like holidays and parties to hammer away at your dieter’s resolve and lead you down the path to excess calories. Most social gatherings come with food and drink, and most of them are full of unhealthy options. Sure, there’s usually a vegetable plate, but why snack on broccoli when there’s wings to be had? And no, the celery that comes with wings doesn’t count as “eating your vegetables”
The keys to surviving a social eating situation are moderation and planning. Before you go to the event, you’re probably going to know what you’re in for. Make sure your diet is spot on the days beforehand and use the event as one of your “free” meals (which I recommend on almost all diets). This will allow you to eat the food that you like, while getting back on the horse right afterwards.
Moderation is also important, even if you’re using it as your free meal. Just because it’s a free meal doesn’t mean you can pile on 4,000 calories of junk food! A great strategy to use is to blunt your hunger before you go to the event. Before you leave have a good, solid meal with some protein, fiber, and healthy fat. These nutrients are healthy, very satiating, and will sit in your gut for a while which will keep the hunger beast at bay. A great meal could be barbecued chicken breast with a side vegetable salad containing a hard-boiled egg and sunflower seeds, for example.
Add-ons at the Grocery Store
The next time you’re at the check-out line at the grocery store I want you to look around a bit. What do you see? Candy, soda, and a variety of quick, inexpensive, portable, and unhealthy foods. You almost never see anything particularly healthy at the checkout line.
This food is placed there for a reason. Marketers know that you’re going to be standing there for a while. They also know that you’re going to be impatient, you might have children with you, and you’ll already have your wallet out. If you’re hungry then chances are you have to go all the way home before you prepare the food in your cart. What’s an extra dollar on a candy bar? 350 calories of crap, that’s what it is.
Eat something before you go to the grocery store. Similar to a social gathering, if you’re not ravenous, then you will have some more willpower when it comes to instant food temptation. That willpower will allow you to walk by the shiny packages and displays with your cart.
Another great method of keeping your add-on risk in check is to use a list when you shop. This is a twofold benefit. With a well-planned list you’re more likely to get everything you need when you shop, so that means less trips through the check-out line! The less you go through, the less you buy.
The other rule of list-making is that you need to buy only what’s on your list. Make that rule with yourself. Sure, I’m sure someday you’ll forget to write the bathroom tissue down (go ahead, get it anyway) but since you’re not supposed to have “King Sized Snickers Bar” on the list, then it doesn’t get added.
Over snacking From Large Containers
How often does this happen? You get a bag of pretzels, nuts, chips, or whatever and sit down to watch TV. The hand keeps going from bag to mouth and before you know it you’ve cleaned out 27 servings of Doritos!
The easiest way to prevent the overeating from a large container is to ditch the large container. You can portion out all of your food into plastic bags and throw the container away, which is effective but somewhat labor-intensive. An easier option is to portion out whatever you’re supposed to eat in the kitchen into a bowl and return the container to storage before you go to watch TV. When the food is gone, it’s gone. You know that if you get up to get more, you’re overeating what you planned.
These are a few of the strategies I’ve used with clients in the past to help them beat some difficult dieting situations. They’re not going to work for everybody, but I’ve found them effective. Try them out and see for yourself!