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By Susan Burke


Thursday, November 13, 2008.


Being social shouldn't stop you from eating intelligently, and if you're on a weight loss programme, it shouldn't mean locking yourself in your house to avoid temptation.


Are you the type of person that is good all week, but when you go out to dinner, you lose all control? Is your weekly diet full of grilled, baked or steamed foods, but if you go to a party, you act as if you're carbo-loading to run a marathon the next day?


Abandoning restraint in the face of seductive snacks is a recipe for weight gain, but saying 'no' takes willpower. Follow these top tips for remaining a social butterfly, not a social blubber-thigh.


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1. Keep your eye on the prize: a slimmer you. If you're on a weight loss programme, you need to create that deficit of 3,500 calories per week. Mindful snacking is the way to weigh less. Mindless snacking will prevent the weight loss you're working so hard to accomplish.


2. Imbibe with caution. Alcohol accomplishes two negatives: extra calories without nutrition, and a relaxing of inhibitions. No doubt some will view that as a positive. However, you need all your willpower to resist the cheese dips and sausage rolls, so staying sober is a good strategy.


3. Hey, but it's a party. So, enjoy one beer or glass of wine, or a mixed drink made with sparkling water or diet soda. Avoid alco-pops and liqueurs: they are full of calories and sugar.


Spend the rest of the party walking around with a full glass of soda water with lime. Keeping your hands occupied accomplishes two purposes: first, the host/hostess will not ask if you need a drink (you have one), and second, it's harder to eat with one hand wrapped around a glass.


4. Host your own party, and make it healthy. Cocktail parties are so easy to make healthy. I'm amazed when I go to a party and only find fried foods and fatty cheeses, crisps and nuts. There are great alternatives.


Chicken is a party favourite. I like grilled chicken on skewers, and tiny chicken drumsticks, with a low-fat dipping sauce. Offer crudités with yogurt dip, hummus, baked pitta and veg sticks - a lower calorie alternative to crisps and sour cream dips.


5. Stay active. Nothing predicts weight loss and weight maintenance more than daily activity. If you're like most, holidays find you running around more than ever, but having less time for yourself. If you don't have time to get to the gym, stay fit by walking daily.


Get up 15 minutes earlier than usual and walk briskly, or dance in the privacy of your home - definitely an aerobic activity. Repeat just before dinner and you can stay slim through your holidays.


6. Make the reservation. Social obligations often mean eating out, and if you pick the restaurant, you're guaranteed to be able to eat healthfully. Choose an establishment that offers a variety of foods and preparations; that way everyone is guaranteed to find something they enjoy.


7. Give yourself the power to say no tactfully. Many people feel that if they don't partake in the party feasting tradition, others will perceive them as rude or ungrateful. Hey, it's your diet, your way. You have the right to eat what you want, where you want and in the amount you want.


8. Say no in creative ways and don't feel deprived. You can say to your host, "Oh, I'm sorry. My plan doesn’t include (name the food) but, thanks anyway." Or, "Oh, thank you so much, I'm sure it's wonderful. I'm too full right now, but thanks for asking." Exercise your preference to refuse, but graciously thank your host, firmly.


9. Prepare for a party and take the edge off your appetite. Eat a small, healthy snack before the party. A sandwich of turkey in a wholemeal pitta stuffed with plenty of salad will fuel you nicely, and at the party, you can choose exactly what you want to eat.


10. Get support. Sometimes you just need to talk to a friend or buddy, and get some support and motivation to resist those temptations.


Party on!


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