If you are currently on a weight loss or weight management program, well done! Keep it up! Sustaining a consistent diet and exercise plan can be a challenging task, especially when our work, personal commitments and lifestyle get in the way. Often I am asked by individuals trying to lose weight about the best way to eat at social gatherings. Are there any ways to prevent or minimise weight gain during a social gathering that serves abundant and decadent food? Here are five strategies that can help you manage your eating when you are next out with your colleagues, friends or family.
1) Pre-Meal Exercise
If possible, go for some aerobic activity like jogging or cycling, or a strength training session in the gym that focus on major muscle groups, before the event. This helps to deplete glycogen (energy) stores in the large muscles and liver, which creates a glycogen deficit that needs to be replenished after you finish your meal.
2) Prioritise Your Meal Plate
When the meal begins, start off with vegetables, followed by protein, then fat and lastly carbohydrates. Ensure that you have ample of plain water to accompany your food intake. The strategy is to achieve satiety from eating predominantly vegetables and proteins, as well as from drinking plain water. You should feel just full, not stuffed. Depending on the cuisine type at the gathering, the ease of following this strategy may vary. However, try your very best to follow this sequence as it can make a significant difference in your macro-nutrient intake and blood insulin levels.
3) Be Conscious Of Condiments
Do also be careful when it comes to sauces and dressings. Ask for sauces and dressings to be served on the side whenever possible so that you can manage/avoid their consumption. Sauces and dressings can sometimes contain high levels of sugar, sodium and calories.
4) Chew Your Food
As the meal progresses, take your time to chew your food. A simple way to slow down your food intake is to chew your food more than usual before swallowing and trying to eat slower than others at the same table.
5) Post-Meal Exercise
Perform the pre-meal exercise routine again 90 to 120 minutes after the meal. If you can, include a 30-minute brisk walk within this 90 to 120 minute post-meal window.
So there you go, you do not have to miss any social gatherings for the sake of your weight loss/management goals. You can (and should) still go out and socialise. Interaction and meaningful human relationships is part of total health and wellness. Just make sure to get back on track with your diet and exercise plan when the party ends.