When you cook for yourself at home and follow your own schedule, it is much, much easier to stick to a diet and eat healthy. Where many dieters trip up is outside the house -- at parties, festivities, and on the road, temptation is everywhere: snack foods, desserts, and chili cheese dogs are all out there to sabotage healthy eating habits.
However, you don't need to be a hermit to keep eating healthy. There are compromises you can make to indulge just a little at special occasions but also keep on track with your dieting goals, and oftentimes, the most successful dieters are the ones who know how to make these compromises. Read on for tips on eating healthy in some common situations that have the potential to wreak havoc on a diet.
- When tailgating or huddled around the big screen with close friends, chips and dip are a staple of any pre-game spread. Having a handful or two of chips won't hurt a diet, but drowning them in dip will. Avoid nacho cheese and other processed dips, especially any containing ranch or sour cream. Instead, have servings of pico de gallo and other more natural salsas, and also have small scoops of gaucamole, but only if its homemade -- store bought has lots of added sugars.
- Go easy on the beer -- alcohol is full of empty calories that do nothing but expand your waistline and shrink your head. Have one or two light beers if you're going to drink, and leave it at that.
- If you're going to the game, don't eat the junk sold at the concession stands. Hot dogs are chock full of fat and calories and won't fill you up, and much of what else is sold is heavily processed and fatty. Eat beforehand at a tailgate with chicken sausage, which tastes great and has a quarter of the fat of a bratwurst. It'll keep you thin and your wallet fat.
At a Party
- When at parties with appetizers, eat slowly. It's very tempting to overindulge in the cocktail weenies and other gourmet h'or dourves offered by wolfing them down, but that leads to overeating and the intake of too many calories and too much fat. Pace yourself, eat one at a time, and you'll be amazed at how full you get off so little.
- If a buffet is offered, of course try to target dishes with fruits and vegetables, but also any rice or pasta dishes. These high-carb foods are filling and will give you energy to be your most social. Just watch out for any pasta salads -- if mayonnaise is one of the ingredients, eat sparingly.
- If dessert is offered, you don't need to deprive yourself. Try just a little bit of everything and really watch your portions. Many diets are wrecked by cravings and binge eating, so if you treat yourself with a sliver of cake occasionally, you'll stay on track. If you're being really good, scrape off the frosting -- it's pure sugar and empty calories.
On the Road
- Road trips are notorious diet-wreckers for the constant snacking many partake in while a passenger. Forget the Cheetos and Hostess desserts. Instead, buy fruit to bring with, or trail mix. Nuts are a great source of protein and fiber which fills you up. If you have to have chips, try baked kinds or the new Pop Chips -- both use significantly less oil.
- It's inevitable that at some point you'll make a trip through the drive-thru. Order diet soda (or better, just water) and a basic chicken sandwich which many fast food chains now carry (sorry, no bacon or ranch sauce, and if you're being really good, no mayonnaise or cheese). Fries are very unhealthy, but if you have to have them, get only a small order.
- It's tempting to want to eat out every night, but restaurants are not only a drain on your funds but your dietary ambitions -- the temptation on the menu is often too great. Make a couple trips to the grocery store along the way and get sandwich fixings and load up on fruit. Many grocery chains have food to go, such as hot soup and pre-made sandwiches, and these are a good way to go.