Stay On Track and Stay Social
I recently came across an article from a ‘fellow blogger’ explaining their top tips for eating healthy while keeping your social life. I was really interested to read the article as I am well aware that it can be tricky to be social and stay on track!
I was only into the first paragraph when my disappointment started. To give you a summary the article started with how she’d been out for dinner with friends the evening before and while her friends drank alcohol she enjoyed sparkling water with lime. It was fine not to have a drink as at least she was there being social with her friends. I’ll let that one linger with you while I run through the other tips.
Highlights were not to order the carbs so have the curry but not the rice, plan ahead and don’t go out hungry so basically have something to eat before you go out. You’re unlikely to make the right choice off the menu if you’re hungry. Imagine that? Going out for tea actually feeling hungry? Shocking. Ha! Other tips were to ring ahead to enquire what’s available and ask how things are cooked. Who wants to be that person? Someone who rings ahead!?
OK. At this point I was screen grabbing the crap out of this article and Whatsapping them to my good friend over at MummaHub. I was so infuriated by the article. You might be reading this thinking why would you be furious or you might be thinking the same as I was, how unrealistic to think that most people could happily follow these tips. Come on though, let’s be honest…. The majority of us are not living rip roaring social lives where we’re heading out for meals and drinks several times a week and if you’re a parent the chances are, it’s not even once a week or even once a month for some.
When my anger subsided I started to think about my own top tips for staying on track while still being social. I’m a firm believer of ‘everything in moderation’ so I really don’t think you need to deprive yourself of anything even when you are on a health kick. Staying on track can be difficult for some and especially if you are at the start of your journey and learning new eating habits but if you are making a change to your lifestyle and not just on a quick fix diet then you need to educate yourself to make good choices and still enjoy yourself. I’d like to think my top tips are easy to follow and prevent you from being that annoying person who nurses a soft drink all night and orders a plain salad.
It’s no secret that alcohol is empty calories. There’s no nutritional benefit whatsoever but most of us enjoy a tipple on a night out and as long as you’re not having a booze binge every night, it’s OK. If you’re trying to stay on track maybe limit how much you consume and avoid the really high calorie drinks such as fruity ciders and wine. Gin and slim line tonic is your friend when it comes to alcohol and calorie counting and with the variety of gins and gin bars around now, you should have no trouble finding one you like.
Ask for a jug of water on the table during your meal. This will help you to alternate your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water, keeping your alcohol intake down and your body hydrated. Should help with the possible hangover too!
If you know you are going out on a particular evening, plan a filling but low calorie / low point day so that when you go out you are armed with the majority of your daily allowance. If you follow Weight Watchers then you could also save your weekly points too. That’s what they are there for, so you can have a guilt free night out. If I was heading out for the evening I’d start my day with a filling bowl of porridge, lunch would be a zero hero such as Curried Butternut Squash Soup and I’d snack on lots of fruit.
The great thing about the Weight Watchers app or similar is that they have a lot of restaurant chain menus already loaded in there so you can see at a glance which are the highly calorific dishes and which ones aren’t. Even if the restaurant you’re going to isn’t in the app, you can usually find something similar to give you a rough guide. Some restaurants are good at highlighting the less than 500 calorie main meals too or the skinny version of something. This all helps to steer you in the right direction if you don’t want to go too much off track on your night out. Let’s face it, most of us love to plan our food so checking out the menus beforehand isn’t much of a chore. My sister always knows what she’s having days before we go anywhere, ha!
Menu Word Search
Try to avoid dishes that are described as deep fried or battered. Other terms to look out for and potentially avoid are glazed, smothered, creamy or rich. Generally they are going to be the higher calorie option. Do look for descriptions such as poached, flame grilled, roasted and baked as these are usually the healthier choices. Grilled dishes are generally your friend when eating out. If you’re a pizza lover, try and stick with the thinner bases and chicken and vegetable toppings. Deep pan meat feast, whilst absolutely delicious is generally the highest calorie option.
You may think you are making the right choice by going for the salad however be mindful of the dressing used and make sure you take into account any extras such as croutons, bacon bits, seeds and nuts. Also most menus can be deviated from and restaurants are happy to accommodate your requests, don’t be frightened to swap side dishes around to get what suits you. If you’d rather not have chips then swap it for salad, boiled potatoes or vegetables.
Lastly, unless you’re living a celebrity lifestyle, you probably don’t go out enough to not just let your hair down and enjoy your night. That’s the whole point of going out, to have fun and enjoy yourself, If you order a deep pan meat feast and a bottle of wine all to yourself, it’s not a big deal and it’s not going to ruin your otherwise healthy week. We’re only human so move on and stay on track.