By Jessica Baumgardner
You work too hard at losing weight to let the weekend blow your diet. Stay on track -- and still have fun -- with these smart-eating tips for avoiding cravings and overeating in social situations.
Related: 6 Ways to Supersize Your Self Control
FRIDAY: Happy Hour After Work
You're in the mood to unwind, but the more you drink, the more you munch. "Alcohol makes you hungry because it lowers your blood sugar," Lichten says. "Plus, it lifts your inhibitions, so you'll eat just about anything."
Related: A Better Brew: FITNESS Light Beer Taste Test
Don't order your usual. You're more likely to have a second round when you're drinking your fave. "To keep it to one serving, get something you can nurse for the time you're there," says Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater's Diet. For example, if you guzzle white wine, order a light beer instead. Related: Drinks on Us: Low-Cal Cocktail Recipes
Go solo. Sharing a pitcher of margaritas with your friends may be more economical, but you're better off, calorie-wise, ordering by the glass. "That way you can't lose sight of how much you're downing because someone is constantly topping you off," says Evelyn Tribole, RD, coauthor of Intuitive Eating. Related: The Health Benefits of Alcohol
Cover up the snacks. If you seem to be magnetically drawn to that bowl of spicy nuts, drape a napkin over it. Even if you end up sneaking a few bites, you'll nibble 40 percent less, according to a recent study. "Inserting an extra step is always smart because it slows you down," says Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and a FITNESS advisory board member. Related: 13 Healthy Snacking Strategies
SATURDAY: A Friend's Dinner Party
Being a guest at someone's house can pose a real dilemma for a dieter. "Not only do you have zero control over the menu, but some hosts are offended when you turn down the food they offer," Beck says.
Don't arrive ravenous. It's tempting to skip lunch in anticipation of a big meal, "but that will lead to overeating, especially if dinner is served later than you expect," Tribole says. Instead, stick to your regular lunch and afternoon snack and you'll find it easier not to eat too many canapes. Related: Tiny Changes to Cut Mega Calories at Every Meal
Stake out the salad bowl. Is the main dish something sinful, like a 40-pound lasagna? "Fortunately, people usually also serve salad," Beller says. So fill the majority of your plate with leafy greens.
Learn to fend off food pushers. Sometimes saying "No thanks" isn't enough to stop an insistent host. The best way to derail her: "Tell her that you can't possibly have another bite, but if she is offering leftovers, you would love to take some home," Tribole suggests. Related: Foolproof Ways to Party-Proof Your Diet
SUNDAY: Big Blowout Brunch
During the week, breakfast is typically fast, healthy, and 300 calories, tops. But a leisurely weekend brunch is filled with decadent menu options. "Just a bagel and cream cheese can pack a whopping 600 calories," says Lisa Young, PhD, RD, author of The Portion Teller Plan. "And that's without the lox."
Related: 30 Easy, Healthy Brunch Recipes
Think of it as lunch. You can still have midday eggs. Just don't let them be your first bite of the day. "If you wait until late morning to eat, you up the chance of overdoing it because you'll be so hungry," Lippert says. To prevent a blood sugar dip, rise and reach for a slow-to-digest, lighter pre-brunch meal, like nonfat Greek yogurt sprinkled with berries and sliced almonds. Related: 8 Guilt-Free Egg Ideas
Share the special stuff. If you've been waiting all week for those golden chocolate chip pancakes, don't deny yourself. "Order a plate for the table and something more satisfying for yourself, like an omelet with vegetables and a bit of cheese," Lippert suggests. "A few indulgent bites will take care of your craving." Related: How to Cheat Without Wrecking Your Diet
Don't linger. Part of the reason you eat more with a group is that you're sitting at the table longer, Wansink says. When you finish, have your plate removed. If the gang isn't ready to break up after everyone has stopped eating, suggest moving outside to a nearby bench or going for a walk. Whatever you do, don't order more coffee. That's when you start grazing. Related: See How Many Calories You're Really Eating
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