We spoke to two experts from Toronto's Newtopia weight loss clinic to get the lowdown on how to ramp up your resolve.
Clinical Psychologist Karyn Hood tells us how to maintain a winning mindset so you can stay strong even when faced with a rack of ribs (or ice cream truck!), and registered dietitian Mary Bamford fills us in the tips and tricks of successful dieters.
Here are 10 ways to indulge in your taste for fun without doing damage to your waistline.
The dietitian's advice:
1. Drink carefully. "Two vodka-lemonade coolers have the same calories as a medium-size meal: about 450," Bamford says. Choose lemon-spiked flat or sparkling mineral water for zero-calorie refreshment. Wine or straight spirits with club soda or water are other calorie-conscious options.
2. Be aware of added fat and calories. Social events often boast party portions, such as larger-than-usual buns (often equivalent to three or four slices of bread), big steaks, and sauces spiked with extra butter or cheese. Know this going in to the party and stick to portions you know are appropriate for you.
3. Stretch your calories. If you love the flavour of a rich dish, use a little to enhance a plain, healthy one. "If the grilled vegetables are heavy in oil or the potato salad is thick with mayonnaise, use either as your salad dressing on fresh greens," Bamford suggests.
4. Scope out all food choices before deciding what to eat. This will help you to avoid wasting calories. Look for tasty, healthy choices such as:
• Shrimp cocktail
• Seafood antipasto
• Sashimi and Sushi (preferably made with brown rice)
• Three Bean Salad
• Grilled seafood
• Grilled chicken and turkey
• Pork Tenderloin
• Lean burgers – tofu, turkey, chicken, extra lean beef
• Turkey sausage
• Gazpacho (cold vegetable soup)
• Fresh cut raw vegetables and fruit
• Grilled vegetables
• Grilled fruit
• Tossed green salads (with just a little vinaigrette salad dressing)
• Potato salad with a vinaigrette dressing (white or sweet potato)
• Fruit salad
• Whole grain breads and wraps
• Whole grain crackers
• Baked whole grain corn chips
Don't deprive yourself of dessert, but skip white-bread products if you plan to treat yourself to a small dessert.
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5. Once you're done eating, pop a cough drop or piece of gum into your mouth so you don't continue grazing. "It's hard to nibble with gum in your mouth, or a nasty-flavoured cough candy slowly dissolving in your cheek," Bamford says.
The psychologist's advice:
6. Keep your eye on the prize. "Before heading to your event, write a list of personally compelling factors for making better food and drink choices. Maybe you want to lose weight for an upcoming event, fit into an old pair of jeans – whatever the reasons, be as specific as possible. It will be easier to stick to your resolve," says psychologist Karen Hood.
7. Be okay with saying no. "Going along with the crowd or eating to be polite can lead to consuming of a lot of extra calories," Hood says. A polite "no thanks" shouldn't cause offence.
8. Eat mindfully. "Take the time to enjoy your meals. It's much more difficult to overeat or binge when you slow down. And, you're more likely to feel satisfied and eat less when you really focus on the flavour, texture and experience of your meals," Hood says.
9. Talk yourself through temptation. Before piling that cheesecake onto your plate, "take a time out and weigh the ultimate cost of your indulgence. While you may feel good as you're eating, how will you feel 30 minutes later? Likely out of control, disappointed in yourself and unhappy about stepping on the scale," Hood recommends.
10. Don't be hard on yourself. Do treat yourself to small indulgences to avoid a deprivation mentality – which can set you up for binging. "When you do have your treat, have a smaller portion and savour it!" Hood suggests.
Finally, in a worst-case scenario – the Champagne was flowing too freely at your sister's wedding, and, yes, she was right: she did hire the best caterer in the city! – don't linger on your diet self-sabotage.
"If you 'fall off the wagon', let it go and get back on your plan right away," Hood advises. "Strive to be more consistent in your choices and continue to improve every day,"
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