Here are some suggestions for various common scenarios, that mean we can still enjoy life without sabotaging our new health habits:
The coffee shop – one of the largest fat traps out there
We are lured in with a promise of escape from our worldly worries, a chance to have a good catch up with friends and a way of forming new friends and business relationships. Pretty much everything on the menu falls into the treat zone and self control is required. Safest bets are a cup of exotic green, black or herbal tea, black coffee, a fresh squeezed juice or a fruit smoothie. A larger drink may allow for us to bypass the baked sweet treats. Next best alternative is to stick to skim milk cappuccino (skinny cappuccino) which at least provides some low fat protein and fills our tummy a bit. Sometimes it comes with a wee biscuit that can satisfy that little indulgent inner self. Get into the habit of always ordering with water, or even a sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon, so you don’t end up dry from the caffeine.
Celebrations and family get-togethers
There are three rules of engagement for the continuing round of birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, sporting events and the lazy Sunday afternoon get-togethers:
1: If we are asked to bring a dish then bring one that is in line with our own goals. Spend a little time thinking what might be popular and dress it up well. People will be impressed, conversation will get started and we will be surprised how many people say that they have been meaning to eat healthier but did not know it could taste this good.
2: Feed our body first, and then treat it second. With a whole smorgasbord of food awaiting us at these events it can be hard not to throw all caution to the wind and pig out! The best strategy is to fill our plates with the most beneficial foods possible, thus feeding our body properly. Fill up with some more of these foods if you feel the need. Once we are satiated, we might then carefully contemplate which of the desserts will tingle our tastebuds. We’ll find that just a few mouthfuls will be enough and there will be little or no guilt attached.
3: Beware of family-induced emotional eating as in “Oh, I made this especially for you” while someone is passing you a 3 kg slice of triple layer chocolate cake. There are as many different variations as there are families, so be on the lookout. Be polite by declaring your state of blissful fullness and have a bite or two, or ask to take it home to enjoy later (and do with it what you will… single male neighbors and university students always seem to be willing recipients).
After work – do what you can to keep control
If you can’t then don’t even start! Binge drinking is a leading cause of preventable death, particularly in young adults and men, but also increasingly, in women. When drinking socially, most people don’t even notice when we switch to lemon lime and bitters after our second drink. Get into the habit of ordering more water, more sparkling water or more soda lime and bitters after the first or second ‘toast’. Our body, brain, liver and skin will thank us for it….the next morning and for the next decade.
At play – daytime activities can also have their own challenges
Think of what activities you do regularly, what kinds of refreshments are served and what you may be ‘mindlessly’ indulging in. Always order the healthiest item, or choose the path of least damage, no matter what. Healthy living comes from healthy regular habits, getting together with friends is good for us – we can make it even better. Choose water, tea, fruit, veggie sticks and salads where possible.
…so what’s on the menu tonight?
Eating is one of life’s great pleasures and it still can be, if we know where to look. There are so many interesting tasty and healthy foods out there. Because we are looking after our health or our waists, doesn’t mean that we have to eat cardboard. For any diet to be successful it cannot be a punishment, the medicine we had to take to get and maintain our health. Become connected with our dietary choices is also not about becoming a fussy eater or being neurotic. It can be as much fun, even more than ever, before.
The moment when we realize “Hey, this food is actually interesting – I wonder what this tastes like? What nutrients does it have? Where does it come from?” is the moment that slow begins, and a whole world of choices opens up.