Monday, February 25, 2008

Tips for Navigating Social Events and Eating Out

A number of people have asked me for my tips for balancing social events with healthy eating and the occasionally splurge. I have created a list of practices that work for me. Most of these can be applied to a variety of social situations as well as eating out at restaurants. Please let me know if you have any others to add. I can always use help in this department!

  • Exercise (on the day of the event/restaurant visit). If I plan to splurge, I will make sure that I have a good workout to help balance-out any extra calories. Plus, exercising always makes me feel good and more confident about myself.
  • No skipping meals. I try to eat normally on the day of the event. If I skip meals during the day to save-up calories, I usually end up overeating once I get to the party/restaurant. Eating sensibly throughout the day helps take the edge off my appetite and empowers a bit of restraint. I will eat “light” on the day of the event, but I make sure to eat meals with some substance.

  • Preview the menu. When eating out at a restaurant, I always look at their online menu to get an idea of the type of food served and what I may want to eat there. Depending on the menu, I might choose to eat or forgo a snack beforehand.

  • Be a food snob. When I eat out, I almost always try to order something new and different. If I can make it at home, I usually won’t order it. Similarly at parties, I will only eat things that I really, really love or have never tried before. For instance, I usually won't bother with chips or a store-bought cookie. If I don't love it, I won’t eat it.

  • Have an appetizer (instead of an entrée). Most restaurants serve huge meals. Sometimes I will order an appetizer as my meal, which is usually a much smaller portion. Splitting an entrée with your significant other or a friend is always a way to cut extra calories.

  • Pace yourself. When I arrive at a party/bar, I will usually grab a soda water/sparkling water, and hang out for about 30 minutes. This gives me time to relax and survey the food and drink choices.

  • Alternate alcohol with soda water. We all know that most alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories. I cut calories by alternating soda water (or water) between alcoholic beverages. If you add a lemon or lime to your drink, it looks and feels like you are drinking a cocktail. Adding soda water to white wine is also a way to slim calories (aka "wine spritzer.")

  • Cut yourself off (before you start drinking). Obviously, I like to enjoy a cocktail or two. Before the night begins, I determine how many cocktails I will have that evening and try to stick to that number. Easier said than done, right? All I know is that it’s hard to determine that number once I’ve already had a few drinks!

  • Fill your plate (with lots of veggies and fruit). At parties, I pick a small plate and load it up with fresh fruit and veggies-- then I will chose 2-3 “fun” appetizers to enjoy.

  • Cook something. If I am invited to a party, I will usually offer to bring a low-cal/healthy dish. At least there will be one healthy item at the party from which to choose.

  • Don’t beat yourself up. If I indulge too much at a social event, I try not to feel guilty. I just eat lightly the next day, exercise, and get back on track. Social events are supposed to be enjoyable, and for me, eating and drinking is part of the fun!


swienick666 said...

Tina! Wonderful entry!

Courtney said...

those are some great tips! thank you so much!

VeggieGirl said...

great advice, Tina! thank you for sharing it!

One Food Guy said...

Nice bud. As you know I'm on a globetrotting business trip right now.

I was a food snob in Scotland, well a food snob by your definition. I ate haggis, and I liked it! Post to come in a day or two.

And I don't know how to pace myself...I paid for it on Sunday in the form of the nastiest hangover I've had in years.

And some folks that volunteer for my company in London are fans of the wine spritzer - because they don't like the taste of wine so they cut it with lemonade (that's UK english for Sprite.)

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