Finally, the weekend. After watching what you eat all week, it’s natural to want to indulge a little. But once you loosen the reins, it’s easy to lose control. To keep that from happening, try these stay-strong strategies.
Friday: Happy hour
You’re in the mood to unwind, but the more you drink, the more you munch on the spicy nut mix.
Don’t order your usual. You’re more likely to have a second round when you’re drinking your fave. Instead, order something you’ll nurse over the course of the evening.
Go solo. Rather than sharing a pitcher, order by the glass to avoid a friend constantly topping you off.
Friday: Dinner out with girlfriends
“Research shows that women eat similarly when they’re together, possibly as a way of relating to each other,” says Sarah-Jeanne Salvy, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Find a designated dieter. “Having just one fellow calorie-conscious person can really help you stay the course,” Salvy notes. “Sit next to each other for extra support.”
Lead the charge. To avoid being swayed by someone’s pasta Alfredo, be the first to order.
Saturday: Doing chores at home
When you’re home, your day has less structure — and the kitchen is just a quick trip away.
Serve here, eat there. Put your snack on a plate and take it to another room. Having to get up and walk to the kitchen to get more food interrupts mindless eating, says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab.
Snack smarter. Add a bit of healthy fat to your favorite nosh to fill you up faster. Partial to pretzels? Eat a handful with a dollop of hummus or peanut butter.
Saturday: A friend’s dinner party
Being a dinner guest is hard. You have no control over the menu, and might feel you can’t offend a host with a no-thank-you helping.
Don’t arrive ravenous. Stick to your regular lunch and afternoon snack so you don’t overeat.
Fend off food pushers. Sometimes saying “No thanks” isn’t enough to stop an insistent host. Instead, ask if you can take some leftovers home to enjoy the next day.
Sunday: Big blowout brunch
A weekend brunch is often filled with decadent menu options.
Think of it as lunch. Don’t let brunch be your first bite of the day. Instead, rise and reach for a slow-to-digest, lighter meal, like nonfat Greek yogurt sprinkled with berries and sliced almonds.
Share the special stuff. If you’ve been waiting all week for those chocolate chip pancakes, don’t deny yourself — just share a few indulgent bites to take care of your craving.
Don’t linger. Part of the reason you eat more with a group is that you’re sitting at the table longer, Wansink says. If the gang isn’t ready to leave after everyone has stopped eating, suggest going for a walk or moving outside.
Sunday: Evening scramble
The end-of-weekend rush is often when you feel like giving up on your diet. Don’t.
Seek heat to slow you down. You can’t scarf down something piping hot, so opt for a snack like steamed edamame, or drink some tea or sugar-free cocoa.
Hit the sack. Sometimes people eat in response to exhaustion. Consider calling it a night and waking up early to finish whatever you have left to do.
(Fitness is fuel for women who are serious about being healthy and staying strong. Online at www.fitnessmagazine.com.)
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Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.