Summer is upon us, and so are the BBQs, picnics, parties, potlucks, and meal-time get togethers. The question I'm fielding a lot these days is "I'm going to a _____ tonight and there will be lots of food. What do I do?!"
First of all, don't panic. Remember this mantra: While you don't always have control over what you eat, you always have control over the choice of how much you eat.
Dieting is not always comfortable or convenient. Sometimes you have to parent yourself and give yourself a stern "No" when you want something. Sometimes you have to feel a little bit hungry until you're in a situation where you CAN control what you're eating.
Here are some strategies that you can put into play to take control of the situation and your day:
One: Plan ahead by eating protein-dense foods during the earlier part of your day.
It's important that you don't starve yourself during the earlier part of the day, because what's likely to happen is that you will succumb to hunger and the second any savory or sweet food hits your tongue, you're going to come undone and go balls to the wall, ESPECIALLY if you inhibitions are already lowered from beer or wine. Ever go to a party promising to control yourself, and then as soon as you hit the chips and dip or the cookie tray, it's game over?
So, the key is to eat the majority of your protein earlier in the day to stay satiated, keep from nose diving into a plate of appetizers and desserts, and to keep you on target for hitting your macros by the end of the day.
Two: Plug your entries into My Fitness Pal as soon as you get there or before you even leave for the event.
Chances are, you're going to see 90% of the same kinds of foods at any party: cheese platter, veggies and dip, fruits, chips and salsa/guac, burgers, hot dogs, BBQ chicken, potato salad, cookies/pastries, etc. Even if you don't predict it 100%, you can go into the event knowing how quickly the calories are going to add up and so you're mindful before you even get there about your food selections.
When choosing MFP entries, choose the most liberal entry when it comes to calorie values, so in the worst case, you over-estimate and under eat.
I know it's not the most polite thing ever to be on your phone at a social gathering, so if you're not comfortable plugging it in while in front of people, excuse yourself to the bathroom for two minutes.
Three: Eat a little bit of everything, but a lot of nothing.
Eating at an event is not binary - you don't have to completely miss out, but you don't have to face plant into every dish that's being served up. Find the middle ground. Bee line for the protein, and if there aren't many good protein options, reach for one of the protein bars I know you've remembered to keep in your purse, and then eat a bite or two of everything else.
Four: Know how much alcohol that you plan to drink and be sure to track it accurately
Don't forget that alcohol can totally stall your weight loss. Not only is alcohol a toxin, so the body will prioritize the metabolization of it before any other macronutrient, so anything else you eat has the greater potential to get stored as fat. And yes, alcohol is its own macronutrient. It packs 7 calories per gram and is the 2nd highest calorie value for all of the macros.
Because most food logs do not track alcohol as a macro, you have to get crafty and swap your alcohol for carbs are fat. So first, decide if you're going to swap your alcohol for carbs or for fat. Then, take the total calorie value of the alcohol by itself (so not including any mixers), and divide by 4 if using carbs and 9 is using fat.
For example, let's say I have a lot of carbs left to use up, so I decide to swap carbs for alcohol. My wine has 150 calories per 6oz. So I divide 150 by 4 and get 37.5g of carbs. If you don't have the Pro version of My Fitness Pal, then add in the equivalent of 37.5g of carbs, which is 9 TSP of white sugar (OUCH!!!!).
Likewise, if I were to have swapped for fat, I would have divided 150 by 9 to get 16.7g of fat, or roughly 1.2 TBSP of olive oil (DOUBLE OUCH!!!)
Then go ahead an add in any mixers, like OJ, cranberry juice, margarita mix, Tonic water, etc.
Alcohol can RUIN a diet plan. If you're not seeing the results that you were expecting. Try cutting out alcohol for two weeks and see if you progres.
Five: Bring your own dish
Offer to bring a dish to help the host/ess. That way you can control at least one item on the menu. You could bring a salad, chicken kabobs, healthy chicken meatballs or pulled chicken sliders made from this easy pulled chicken recipe (both from Ryder's Mom Blogs), a healthy dessert, or this easy healthy potato salad I'm sharing below. This actually tastes really good, I promise.
Fit Forward Mom's Low Fat Potato Salad
1 serving = 5 oz (makes 10 servings)
129 calories: 2g P | 17g C | 6g F
2 lbs potatoes (I used Trader Joe's Organic Red Potatoes)
1/3 cup minced parsley, plus a little extra for garnish
1/3 cup diced onions, plus a little extra for garnish (I used an organic red onion. Green onions and Maui onions also work well)
1/4 cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 TBSP lemon juice (do NOT use the lemon juice that comes in the yellow lemon. use fresh squeezed or use a bottled fresh juice. I used Volcano Organic Lemon Juice)
2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
3 thinly sliced celery stalks (I prefer celery hearts)
1 TBSP salt
Pepper to taste
Wash and scrub potatoes and pat dry
Cut potatoes into approximately 1 inch chunks, leaving the skins on
Place cubed potatoes into a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Boil on medium high for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Drain and allow to cool.
Add parsley, onions, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and mustard to a blender. Blend at medium speed until emulsified.
Poor your herb sauce over the potatoes and gently coat the potatoes in the mixture. Any sauce that seems to be extra will be soaked up by the potatoes.
Add salt, pepper, sliced celery, and extra parsley and onion. Stir again.
Store in the fridge for at least one hour prior to serving. Will stay good in the fridge for up to a week. The longer it sits, the more flavor it builds!
Enjoy guilt free!
This is a great tasting potato salad, and no one will ever guess that it's healthy. I hope that you'll give it a try!