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7 Tips for Partying on a Diet

Rawinia Gregory


When you’ve got a cocktail party on Friday night, dinner at your favourite restaurant on Saturday, a Sunday session at your local, and a meal with the family all in one weekend, it’s not just your schedule that’s going to be a tight squeeze. In fact, any attempts at weight loss seem doomed to fail.

If you’re tempted to abandon your high heels or bow tie because you’re worried that social occasions will ruin your weight-control goals – don’t. Instead, read on to find out how you can have your cake, steak, hors d’oeuvres, and bubbly – and enjoy them too.

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Before you go

Arriving with a rumbling stomach is a bad start to any social occasion. It’s often the pre-meal nibbling that causes the most calorie damage. Think cheese and crackers, dips, chips, peanuts, garlic bread, and deep-fried appetizers such as spring rolls or wontons…

What to do? Eating before you go out can stop those “I’m so ravenous, I don’t care if this bowl of chips contains my whole day’s calorie allowance!” moments. Although it can be hard to find the time when you’re busy getting ready to go out, a low-calorie snack will take the edge off your appetite and help you make rational and sensible food choices once you’re out.

Including some protein in your snack can help sustain you for an even longer period of time. Good snack suggestions include low-fat yoghurt, a slice of wholegrain toast with peanut butter or a small handful of raw almonds.

If you know you won’t be eating a meal while you’re out, have a balanced low-calorie meal before you leave home.

Treat yourself

Half the fun of socialising is sharing delicious foods with family and friends. Deciding not to eat when you’re away from home can leave you feeling left out. And feeling left out can lead to making up for it later by eating a block of chocolate, a tub of ice cream, some cake, a bag of chips and…well, you get the idea!

What to do? Sampling a small serve of everything that you like the look of is a bad idea, but choosing one or two treats to enjoy while you’re out is a good solution. Choose your favourite “must-have” foods. If you can take or leave chocolate cake, but absolutely love your Mum’s special apple pie, have a small serve of pie and leave the cake for someone else to enjoy. Really savour and relish your chosen treats! Satisfying your cravings and your emotional needs with some small treats lets you join in the celebrations while keeping you on track with your weight-loss goals.

Make good choices and savour every morsel

A restaurant meal doesn’t have to mean a high-calorie, four-course, eat-until-you-explode extravaganza. You’ll actually enjoy your food more if you take your time over well-prepared, full-flavoured, gourmet-style foods. Remember, quality, not quantity, is the mark of a good meal.

What to do? Regardless of the type of restaurant you’re going to, there are always some choices that are better than others. Some restaurants include their menus on their website, or can supply you with a copy in advance so you can get an idea of the types of dishes they offer.

Ask your waiter or waitress how meals are prepared and for recommendations on which dishes will best suit your needs. Order dressings and sauces on the side, and don’t forget to order vegetables or salad to go with your meal if they are not included.

When your meal arrives, relax and enjoy it. Take your time to eat, instead of racing through it. If you're a fast eater, try to slow down and focus more on the flavours and textures of your food. Pace yourself with the slowest eater in the group. If you’re having trouble thinking about anything other than whether you want tiramisu or crème brulee for dessert, put your fork down, drink some water and get involved in the conversation instead. Dining out is about more than just the food.

Help your host

The host is usually the one that determines whether or not there will be healthy options at a dinner party or other social occasion. If you know that your host always caters with creamy dressing-laden salads and rich desserts, or that your friend will be bringing her famous triple-layer chocolate torte, then you’ll know that you’re in for a tough time sticking to your healthy-eating plan.

What to do? Help your host by bringing your own food. No, we don’t mean turning up with a meal all for yourself! Rather, bring along some healthy food to share. Try vegetable sticks and low-fat dips, fresh rice-paper rolls, sushi, rice crackers and salsa, or a fruit platter.

Next: Tipple or tipsy...

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