Tell us if this sounds familiar...you've started your new healthy lifestyle with Weight Watchers and you’re feeling wonderful and looking great! You’ve been focusing on you for some time now and you miss seeing your friends. You start making plans to meet up with your pals when you realize that going out and celebrating often leads to too many drinks (next round's on me!) unhealthy food (who wants dessert!) and long periods of sitting down (we need to catch up!). You love your friends, but how can you make this work?
Studies show that having a healthy living buddy and/or support system can set you up for success over the long term. Yay! But how do you go about developing this system when your friends aren’t on board with your new, healthy lifestyle? How can have your cake and decide not to eat it too?
Here are some tips for healthy food gatherings, whether you’re going out or staying in.
Going out is great because someone else cooks and does the dishes. Who can say no to that? Here’s how to order, even when your dining companions aren’t counting SmartPointsTM.
Most restaurants post their menu online, so be sure to check it out before you arrive at the restaurant. What looks clean and delicious? What could you customize in order to make the meal perfect? What portion sounds too big to eat in one sitting? Think about it before you get to the restaurant, so you can order without peer pressure or the pressure of hunger. Order first, if possible, so you don’t get swayed by anyone else’s order. (Because life is hard enough as it is, you shouldn’t have to make a decision about what you’re ordering for dinner when you’re starving.)
Suggest a restaurant where you can easily order what you want. Mediterranean and Mexican restaurants are pretty good at offering clean, customizable food. If it’s not on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. A great bet is grilled protein. If you’re having starch at your meal, like rice, potatoes or bread, keep it to the size of your clenched fist. Or, forgo the starch and ask for a double order of vegetables.
If you happen to find yourself at one of those deep, dark small plate or tapas restaurants, don’t fear. European portions are smaller than North American portions, and it’s not unusual to worry that there won’t be enough food. Remember that the portions may be small, but the food is rich and tasty. Resist the urge to eat fast. Eat slowly and savour each and every taste. Pass on the croquettes and focus on leaner options like Serrano ham, fresh oysters, or grilled octopus. Order one vegetable dish for every three dishes – be daring and order some trendy grilled shishito peppers (watch out, one in ten is spicy!). Remember that if you still feel hungry when you get home, you can always have a piece of fruit.
- Don’t forget to track alcoholic beverages, if you’re partaking. They will add up quickly!
Why deal with all the fuss of choosing a restaurant, driving, parking, etc. when you can have a lovely meal at home? Hosting a dinner for friends will allow you to have full control over what you serve and the ingredients that you use.
Invite some friends over for dinner, or host a potluck-style dinner. Be in charge of the food that you want to eat. Look at some recipes online and choose a beautiful, healthy main, like a whole roasted fish or chicken. Have guests bring vegetable dishes, like salad, roasted vegetables, and crudités and hummus, and just like that, you’ve got a vegetable-focused dinner that won’t cost you all your SmartPoints.
You can even choose a theme, like Mediterranean food, or the return of spring. Set the table and select a playlist that reflects your theme, as well. Hopefully kitchen dancing will ensue, leading to the accumulation of a few FitPointsTM.
- A new trend out there is women’s circles. This may sound a little hippy dippy, but women’s circles create a space for mutual support. You can host a women’s circle like you would a potluck or dinner party, but have a few dinner conversation topics that aren’t about politics or the weather. For example, what are people’s current struggles or successes? What are people grateful for?
If you've been to a restaurant any time in the last few years you've undoubtedly noticed people awkwardly taking photos of their meals and posting to social media. As silly as it may seem, food journaling may have something to it. A recent study found that using a photographic food journal actually helped people stick with healthy eating patterns, more so than a written diary. There must be something about taking the time to think about how delicious your meal looks and properly framing it that helps you stick to healthier eating patterns. Of course having photographic evidence also helps you track what you ate! The next time you make a beautiful, healthy dish try taking a photo and sharing it online. Snapping, filtering and uploading a photos can inspire others and connect you to an online community full of like-minded people. If you don't have an account yet, try using Instagram and use the hashtags #weightwatchers #wwfamily and #smartpoints to find photos from other members. Or better yet, upload your photos directly through the Connect section of our mobile app.