One of the biggest challenges while losing weight is to still have and enjoy an active social life. There can be many challenges whether enjoying a meal, attending a party or a work or family social gathering. Most functions have temptations such as alcohol, buffets, fried foods, and overly tempting desserts.
So why does having a plan make it easy to attend social functions without going into overwhelm? With a plan in place, you’re much more likely to reduce any setbacks and much more likely to stay on-plan.
Here are 12 tips to keep in mind when attending any social function:
- Plan ahead to reduce overwhelm. Set goals the night before you go to a function. It may be that food will be the biggest challenge, it could be that alcohol will present an issue, or that you know the desserts on offer will be so tempting. Decide on your game plan. Rehearse turning down processed food options like fried foods and look for raw or cooked vegetables, cold meats, olives, cheese or fruit platters. Feel comfortable saying “no thanks” when the time comes to limiting the number of drinks you will be offered.
- Stay ahead of hunger and poor food and drink choices. By eating your normal meal or snack before your function you’ll be less likely to feel hunger. If you skip meals and arrive hungry, you’re more likely to eat bigger portions or eat higher calorie food you know is not on your plan.
- Let people know if you choose not to drink alcohol. When it comes to alcohol there is still a lot of peer pressure to drink, no matter your age or circumstance. You can relieve the pressure on yourself by being firm with your friends that you have chosen not to drink alcohol. If you feel pressure to have a drink in your hand if standing or a full glass in front of you if sitting, then both can be accomplished with soda, mineral or plain water.
- Alcohol alternatives. If you like bubbles, sparkling mineral water with lime or lemon is a great option. There are a large range of non-alcoholic beverages now available but check the ingredients as many are high in sugar. Soda water with a dash of lime juice in a champagne glass will make you look like you’re drinking champagne and stop any pester power. Remember, your wallet and your waistline will thank you in the morning.
- Eat proactively. A comfortably full stomach gives you control and helps to slow down the absorption of alcohol. Protein foods are the most satiating. By skipping meals, you will only make blood sugar spikes worse, causing an increase in the absorption of alcohol, increased hunger later, and low energy levels. Alcohol lowers self-control and this increases the likelihood of being tempted to eat foods which put back your weight loss accomplishments. Many alcoholic drinks also cause blood sugar spikes.What if you find you have the munchies on your way home? Pre-pack a snack in your purse, pocket or car. Include some nuts, protein powder in a shaker and a bottle of water so you won’t be tempted to eat pizza at 2 am.
- Practice the every-other rule. This rule is to alternate 1-2 glasses of water between each alcoholic drink. At parties most people have a drink in hand, but no one said it had to be alcoholic. Water will keep you hydrated and can help save you from a hangover and slow your overall consumption of alcohol. Another option is to have the water glass in your “drinking” hand and the alcoholic drink in your “non-drinking” hand. It will take a more conscious effort to lift your “non-drinking” hand and make you more aware of how much alcohol you’re consuming.
- Be a giver. Don’t hold out on your friends! If you can why not share your favourite food recipe. Be proactive and don’t feel left out by offering to take a plate. Plan on meat and vegetables or a cheese and fruit platter. Your host or hostess will be glad to have the extra help.
- Burn your carbs. Ditch your drink and get on the dance floor. Move while you are out partying. Dancing, walking between restaurant and bar, or standing will all help use up excess energy eaten or drunk. It’s a bit hard to continue drinking while you’re dancing!!!
- Invite a friend for support. Choose a friend, work colleague or family member that you know supports your weight loss efforts and eating plan. Ask them to help you stay on-track if you’re not sure how you’ll go. It might just be reminding you to eat smaller portions, or even share the dessert (if you must have it). You might even offer to be the designated driver.
- Move on. Whether you had two drinks or five and may have devoured a late-night pizza, wake up the next day and get back on track. You will have extra calories to burn so plan to do some extra exercise. A long walk, an extra gym session, touch footy in the park or a bike ride will help you feel better. Don’t fuel your hangover with non-plan food, just get back on your eating plan and remember to complete your daily planner. If comfortable, you might delay your first meal the next day until hunger pangs start.
- Recreate socialising norms. Surround yourself with friends, work colleagues and family who support or have the same health values. Look for social activities that don’t revolve around food or drinks, such as walking or hiking, movies, or going to the market to food shop. These can help you create a social life that fits with your new healthy lifestyle.
- Focus on small successes. You need to enjoy your lifestyle. Beating yourself up and feeling bad every time you slip up isn’t any way to live. Losing weight isn’t a test. If you get upset about every little “cheat”, you’re more likely to quit altogether. We don’t want that. If you’re eating real food and living an active healthy lifestyle, you are way ahead of the curve. So don’t stress and remember to celebrate every small victory. Small victories lead to BIG results.
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