No matter how serious you are about watching your weight, practicing portion control, and maintaining good eating habits, it’s easy to find yourself in certain situations that can really test your willpower. Here are some common “danger zones” to watch out for when you’re trying to stick to a healthy, low-calorie eating plan.
Feeding in Front of the TV
The problem with eating in front of the TV is that you’re not giving your meal or snack your full attention. Realistically, though, if you’re alone, you might want the TV for company. “If you are going to watch TV and eat, prepare your meal fully and portion it out,” said Marjorie Nolan, RD, a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a nutrition and fitness consultant in private practice in New York City.
“Once you’ve eaten what’s on your plate, stop. Also, give yourself a set time frame. Eat during just one half-hour show and not all night with the TV on.
Overboard at the Buffet
Fill up one plate with small portions and stop. Practice portion control by taking less of the unhealthy choices. Another trick: Make several trips, but limit yourself to one food group each time. For example, start with portions of vegetables, go for protein the next time, and carbs last.
“We always talk about how not to overeat at the party,” Nolan said. But the day after can be just as challenging. People rationalize by saying, “I’m already overeating, so I’ll wait until Monday to resume my good eating habits.” It’s fine to overindulge for an evening, but start back on your eating plan with portion control immediately afterward.
Dining-Out Diet Disasters
Never arrive at the table famished. To avoid overeating, have a few carrots or almonds before you leave to meet your friends. If you’re drinking alcohol, limit yourself to two drinks at most to save on calories and keep from getting inebriated and losing your self-control. Another tip: Space your two drinks at least an hour apart. That way you won’t feel deprived.
A good way to avoid overeating while on vacation is to decide each morning which of your three meals will be your special one.
“Keep it to one indulgent meal a day, not three,” Nolan said.
Meals on the Go
Pack healthy meals and exert portion control on snacks for when you’re traveling.
“If you pack non-perishables and don’t eat them because you found a good restaurant, you can save them, and you’re not wasting,” Nolan said.
Portion your snacks in individual baggies. If you must take the original bag, include a measuring tool so you can eat the right portions.
Some people find themselves overeating when they’re upset or under stress. If you’re having an emotional time, the solution is to be conscious of how your eating habits are being affected. Keep a food journal to help you see the portion sizes you’re eating. Another trick is to do something fun that doesn’t involve food to distract you from your worries.
Eating on the Job
When you’re really busy at work, you tend to eat quickly and not pay attention to portions or calories. Again, the answer to portion control is to plan ahead. Pack lunches and snacks the night before that will fill you up during the day. Also, force yourself to stop work for just 15 minutes to eat. You need the break, and you’ll feel fuller if you take time out to eat.
When you’re overtired, it’s easy to eat mindlessly and before you know it, you’re overeating 1,000 extra calories. One solution is to take a nap rather than reach for another portion of peanut butter cookies. If it’s late at night and you’re about to start overeating, go to bed rather instead of wandering into the kitchen.