Are you able to avoid overindulging in common social situations?If you're trying to improve your diet, you know how difficult it can be. Over-processed and unhealthy (but convenient) food dominates grocery stores and restaurants, and temptations to stray from your plan abound, even in the best situations.
The worst situations-these five diet-busting traps-can be nearly impossible to weather, if you're unprepared. These suggestions will help you survive them without wrecking your diet.
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Problem: Happy Hour
Survive It: Alcohol stimulates appetite, so pre-empt martini munchies with a high-protein, late-afternoon snack. Try not to linger at the bar, says Leslie Bonci, R.D., where beer nuts and other unhealthy snacks may be within reach. Skip the giant margaritas, which can pack 500 calories, and order a lower-calorie drink, like a glass of wine or light beer.
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Problem: Afternoon Munchies
Survive It: Ask yourself, Is it hunger or just boredom? If it's boredom, stand up, take a walk, and stop at the water fountain for a drink. If it's hunger, plan a healthy snack. Or divide your lunch into two parts. Eat half when you normally would and the other half when you hit your midafternoon lull. That way you're not adding calories to the day.
Problem: Office Goodies
Survive It: If the cake is for a really special occasion, have a slice. Then make a compromise later in the day. Save the nuts and fruit you brought for a snack for tomorrow. If your office is constantly stacked with treats, move them into the fridge, with a sign on the front, "Cake inside!" It's easier to resist treats you can't see.
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Problem: Family Barbecues
Survive It: Do your part by bringing something healthy, like fruit salad, says Bonci. Then, enjoy the special foods that you don't get to eat regularly, like your uncle's potato salad. Stay away from everyday offerings, like potato chips, which don't taste any different just because you're eating them at a family gathering.
Problem: Dining Out
Survive It: Make requests: Ask for dressings and sauces on the side; tell the server to bring a piece of bread--not the whole basket. Ravenous? Request your salad as soon as you sit down. Eating out is an indulgence, so go ahead and order something that's a splurge. Just skip the potato or rice. "No one ever walks out of a restaurant saying, 'That was the best baked potato I ever had,'" Bonci says.
Now tell us--what's your biggest diet trap, and how do you handle it?
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