As wedding season kicks off, I have just returned from my sister's hen party in Cork. Often when you are on a diet or trying to make healthier choices, social events like this can leave you feeling anxious or worse, make you go off the rails altogether. Below are my top tips for staying on track while on holidays or at social events.
Bring your own!
This is often the hardest part but bring your own food. Start by making sure you have healthy snacks while you are away. On holidays head down to the local supermarket and pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables, hummus or tahini. Rice cakes are another convenient healthy option. Snacking pieces of fruit with a handful of nuts and some dried fruit or dark chocolate can help keep the sugar cravings at bay.
It's not always possible but try to plan ahead, check out the hotel or restaurant’s menu in advance and use this to plan your meals. This is really helpful for anyone with special dietary requirements. On a wider scale choosing a lighter option at lunch if you are heading out for an evening meal is a sensible option. When it comes to desserts, there is no need to feel deprived or guilty around this course. Sorbets, fruit salads and crumbles are healthier options than the Death by Chocolate cake! If you do want to indulge, why not try splitting the dessert with a loved one or friend.
Keep it lean!
If you can, choose lean protein and vegetables at main meals. Choose grilled, baked or steamed chicken or fish but try to avoid processed meats like bacon or burgers. When it comes to vegetables, choose salad with dressing on the side or stir fried, steamed, grilled vegetables. The combination of lean protein and low calorie dense foods help to keep you full without overloading on the calories. Choose tomato based sauces instead of cream based sauces and avoid deep fried dishes.
Control the drink!
If the social event involves drinking, try to stick to clear spirits like gin or vodka with low calorie mixers such as soda water. Alternate every drink with a glass of water, this will help to keep you hydrated and avoid a nasty hangover in the morning! If you're not drinking, rounds of soft drinks can quickly add up to mega calories so by choosing refreshing drinks like soda or sparkling water and lime, you keep the calories down and skip the empty sugar calories.
Goodbye to the fry!
After a long night it's easy to give in to the temptation to eat the Full Irish the next morning. Unfortunately, this is probably not the best option. If you've been drinking the night before salty fries will only make you feel worse. A nutritious breakfast will help you get back on track and sets you up for the day. Fresh fruit with natural yogurt is a balanced brekkie and helps count towards your five a day. My favourite breakfast is porridge. The oats will fill you up and give you a sustained release of energy avoiding the energy slump in the afternoon. Granola, boxed cereal and processed yogurts tend to be loaded with hidden sugars and can lead to sugar crashes, making that hangover seem worse.
The most important thing at social occasions is to relax and enjoy yourself an avoid feelings of guilt associated with food. One night or even a few meals is not enough to ruin your healthy lifestyle. Try to eat sensibly and remember you are only one bite away from being back on track.
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