With the change in weather and festive season around, party mood has begun. Sheer number of outings, extravagant food and alcohol worsened with late nights can throw even the most disciplined off their fitness regimens. Not only does it result in extra kilos, it causes digestive disturbances and compromises on general well-being.
Just a few tips and common sense, can protect from the ills of dining & wining.
- Plan: Just like you plan your clothes and meetings, plan your eating too. If you know you are to dine out, then under-eat during the day. If you've not been successful keeping it light during the day, eat less at the party. If not then balance in the subsequent meals or walk that extra mile.
- Remember; don’t go starving to the party. Eat a light snack.
- Maintain a food diary: Food diary helps you to track your caloric intake and make appropriate choices accordingly.
- Eat less: Usually, celebration food is higher on calories, fat, salt and sugar. Keep tight control on portions, as it is easy to tip over on calories more so when the variety seems endless.
- If you must indulge in very high calorie traditional fare- limit your portions. Do not allow build-up of sweets or chocolates at home, chances are you’ll end-up eating more. Present them to more deserving lot of people.
- Remember the principle of Balance: In case you have not been able to control portions and have over-eaten or over-indulged, balance by compensating in the next meal or next day. You may eat a lighter meal consisting of soup and salad or milk and fruit or vegetables and yogurt, subsequently.
- For those trying to lose weight or preventing weight gain during the festive season, it may be a good idea to perform the balancing act in anticipation, prior to the festivities. This could be done a week or few days earlier and during the festive season.
- Appetizers: Don’t go out to dine or reach a party ravenous. Make sure you take a light snack (salads, soups, vegetables, lentils, milk, yogurt or nuts make good choices) before leaving your home to prevent over-indulgence of the first thing that you are served. Or else, eat most of your meal at home and choose light snacks or vegetables while you are out.
- In restaurant, start your meal with appetizers like clear soups or salads without rich dressings. Pass the breadbasket and order a salad/grilled vegetables.
- Snack Smart: Go for roasted/ baked, non–fried, grilled or bar-be-qued snacks. Choose small portions preferably. If overindulged in snacks, keep the dinner light or skip it all together.
- Limit Alcoholic beverages: Avoid drinking more than 2 medium drinks of wine or other alcoholic beverages. Alcohol stimulates the appetite and is primarily a source of empty calories as these calories are stored preferentially as fats. Women should limit their intake to 1 medium drink. Prefer dry wine instead of sweetened wines. If you have to go through a long evening over drinks, dilute your drinks or else take water or soda intermittently. Diabetics should watch out for alcohol intake as it can lead to hypoglycemia.
- Other beverages: Save yourself from sugar calories and avoid drinking sweetened beverages. Go in for sugar free substitutes, diet sodas or fruit juices diluted with soda.
- Salads: Include salads as a part of the main course. Ask for a wedge of lemon or some seasoned vinegar instead of very oily ones. Ask for the salad dressings "on the side".
- Vegetables: One must look for vegetables with less gravy or without gravy as gravies are loaded with fats and calories. Try grilled, stir-fried or lightly sautéed vegetables. Avoid fried/ oily dishes.
- If non- vegetarian, choose light roasted/ grilled fish/poultry to mutton/beef/pork. Prefer lean cuts of meat.
- Desserts: Skip desserts if possible, or choose light ones in place of ones with cream or deep fried ones. If temptation overtakes you or you have a sweet tooth, share your favorite ones with your friends. Fruits make a good choice.
- Social pressure: Learn to say 'no' politely but firmly. A lot of people don't take 'no' for an answer, so it may be a good idea to ask them for an alternative which you would like to have. Example: instead of a cold drink or juice, you can request for sugar-free options or tea/ coffee. Some people may even force things on your plate or pour you a drink which you may not want; you can be discrete and put it away without offending anyone. Another strategy which can work is to let people know that you are off-sweets or alcohol etc., as the case may be.
- Gift healthy: Find alternatives to traditional high calorie sweets:
o Dry fruits (figs/ apricots/ prunes)
o Chocolate coated nuts
o Honey or jaggery coated nuts
o Sweets made with alternative sweeteners
These are welcome choices.
Celebration and dining out can be a pleasant way to spend time with friends and family. With a little effort, eating out need not burden you with extra calories and can be a joyful experience.