Watching your waistline over special holidays may be expected, but what about all the other social events throughout the year that may cause havoc to our waistlines?
Going out for dinner, birthday parties, work events and catch-up drinks with friends. These are all occasions which we don’t prepare for and many of us tend to over eat and over indulge at these events.
Here are some tips to help prevent you from overeating:
1. Birthday cake
You’re at a birthday party and there’s cake. You cannot be the only one not having cake, so enjoy a piece without feeling guilty, it is a celebration after all. Just be sure to keep to a small portion and be as good as you can for the rest of the party.
2. Don’t arrive hungry
Whether it be at a work event or a dinner with friends, don’t arrive feeling hungry as this may lead to overeating later on. Snack on something small like a fruit, crackers with low fat cottage cheese or a small handful of nuts.
3. Eat like you would at home
At home we usually prepare one meal and dish up one plate of food. So why at a restaurant do we feel the need to eat from the bread basket, order starters and order a main? Ask the waiter not to bring the bread and when ordering go straight to the mains without looking over the starters.
Another trick is to be mindful of the side orders. At home we normally don’t have fried chips, fried onion rings and a mushroom sauce over our food. So keep your restaurant food the same as you would at home. A side order of vegetables or salad with a baked potato is a far more healthier option.
4. Watch the snacks
Snack-type foods are normally high in sugar and fat and are kilojoule-dense, so when they are the only option of food just be aware of the portions that are being taken in.
· When dishing up, don’t pick from the table, rather dish up and eat from one plate.
· Instead of standing around the snack table and socialising, dish up and move away from the food.
· If standing around the snack table is the only option, try holding a beverage in your dominant hand and standing with this side closest to the table. Reaching over for food from the table with your non-dominant hand feels awkward and may help prevent mindless eating.
· If there’s chips and popcorn before a main meal, you don’t have to indulge just because everyone else is doing it. Ask yourself if you are really hungry for these snacks before a main.
5. Stop when you're full
Most of us are conditioned from childhood to finish everything on our plate instead of stopping when we’re full, which may lead to overeating. Try some of these tips to help you realise when you should stop eating because you are no longer hungry
· Chewing more slowly may help you realise when your full, instead of eating too fast and getting through the plate too quickly
· Have a glass of water while you are eating
· Wait 15min after your first plate to see if you are still hungry for more food, instead of getting up immediately to dish up more.
· Some people may feel offended when you don’t finish all the food on your plate. Stick to saying “it was great but I cannot fit in anymore” as it serves as a compliment and prevents you from having to eat more than you need to.
· Many restaurants now offer half portions on main meals so ask beforehand or take leftovers as a takeaway.
6. Buffet feast
A buffet consists of a variety of food.
· So before dishing up, first survey the foods on offer. This will allow you to make the choice of foods that you really want to indulge in, preventing you from dishing up mindlessly and choosing foods for the sake of trying them out.
· You also don’t need separate side plates for salads and your mains, dish up on one plate.
· Breakfast buffet – try having cereal with milk and a fruit first and then wait 15min before having more of the options available. If you decide you do want more food, then stick to poached eggs, grilled tomato, mushrooms and low GI toast.
Lila Bruk is a registered dietician, nutritional consultant and freelance health journalist.
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