9 Essential Ways to Cut Calories When You’re With Friends (#5’s a no-brainer)
When you're dieting, spending time with friends makes it easy to forget your weight loss goals. While it's possible for peers to actually motivate us in some ways, it's more likely that we'll forget our intentions and slip into old habits.
To make sure your weight loss intentions aren't in jeopardy, use these 9 strategies to cut calories even when you're out with friends.
#1 Plan Ahead
Hang out with friends: If you plan to see your friends for dinner or appetizers in the evening, plan your diet so that you eat fewer calories in the morning. That way, even if you indulge slightly with your friends, you won't completely ruin your weight loss efforts for the day.
Planning ahead is essential in any weight loss program, and limiting calories before and after a get-together with friends is a great place to start. However, you should plan ahead in other ways as well.
Calorie counting: It is still one of the most effective ways to drop weight over time. Even though you may have seen articles and experts dismissing the counting of calories as an effective weight loss strategy, it is one of the only methods that continues to prove itself time and again in clinical trials.
With that being said, it's still important to eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, veggies, lean protein and whole grains.
Don't skip breakfast and get enough sleep: Despite aiming to limit calories before an event, you should still always eat breakfast as skipping breakfast has been linked to a higher prevalence for obesity and being overweight.
Even getting enough sleep the night before can help you make better decisions when you see your friends and are faced with calorie-dense foods.
#2 Make Your Get-Together an Active One
We all know that exercise is one of the keys to losing weight, but most people think of exercise as going to the gym alone or taking an aerobics class.
In fact, simply moving more in any way possible can count as a large percentage of your daily exercise. This is because the flip side, inactivity, is directly correlated with weight gain and obesity.
In terms of hangouts with friends that can be active, taking an aerobics class together or playing a game of racquetball are both physical and social. Check this video:
These are examples of intense physical exercise, but you could do something less rigorous as well. For example, take a yoga or tai chi class or simply stretch together in someone's living room.
The general consensus tends to be that when you get together with friends, snacks and drinks should be involved. Choosing a more active approach to friendship hangouts can be just as viable an option.
#3 Know the Menu
Is a restaurant on the agenda for your hangout? If you're meeting friends at a bar or restaurant, know what you're going to order before you head out. Having a plan will make cutting calories much easier.
Almost all restaurants have their menus online now, which makes things much easier. Additionally, many restaurants have the number of calories in each of their dishes listed on the menu.
Use this info to plan all your meals for the day. In other words, follow tip #1 and limit your calorie intake in the morning and then choose something on the menu that contains a calorie count to keep you on track for the day.
If you're at risk of going over your calories, look for restaurants where you can order a half portion size. Restaurants these days notoriously dish up more food than necessary, which makes portion sizes outrageous.
Avoid ordering a full portion of anything and opt for the half order or ask a friend if they want to split a plate instead.
#4 Be One of "Those" Girls Because It's Worth It
Even though it's your habit to blend in and nosh on fried appetizers and greasy pizza just like your friends, remember your other priorities.
You want to lose weight, which means changing your snacking habits and limiting calories. Simply put, this can be extremely difficult to do in front of your friends. They may tease you or taunt you to indulge as they are.
In order to prepare yourself to make good decisions, before you head out, give yourself a pep talk. You might even go so far as to talk aloud to yourself in the mirror. Remind yourself of your weight loss goals and list all the reasons why you want to lose weight.
Make a plan to not give in to peer pressure and be prepared to exchange a side of fries for a salad, order dressings on the side, avoid the appetizers or do other things that your friends may gawk at.
Peer pressure is extremely difficult to deal with when you're trying to lose weight. In fact, studies consistently show that social networks are highly influential when it comes to choosing your diet. Remember this when you're socializing with friends.
You'll be used to acting a certain way with them, meaning it may feel good to be one of the gang, eating pizza and ice cream and other high-calorie foods just like them. Always remember your goals. You don't want to regret your decisions after the fact.
#5 Always Have Water On Hand
Consuming sugary beverages such as soda, juice or mixed cocktails has become the norm among many people. Even when ordering a high-calorie meal, many people indulge in these beverages in addition to their food.
However, studies show that enjoying sugary drinks on a regular basis will severely limit your success in weight loss and can even make you gain weight if you're not careful. Drinking water is always the right choice, and not just because it keeps you away from soda.
Often, when you think you're hungry and you want to snack, you're just thirsty. Have you ever chosen a big glass of water over a sandwich and been just as satisfied? If you're not careful, you'll prolong your thirst, which can screw up your weight loss efforts.
This is because being thirsty and not quenching that thirst properly with water can actually alter your state of mind. In turn, this may sabotage your ability to make smart choices when it comes to food.
Stay hydrated by always having a full glass of water in front of you. Do this wherever you are whether it's at a party, at a restaurant or just on your friend's couch.
Additionally, if you're afraid of popping too many of those pretzels or chips into your mouth, make a mental note to take two sips of water after every bite. This will not only slow you down, but it will also keep your hunger satiated.
#6 Don't Snack Mindlessly
Mindless eating is a common habit of those who struggle with weight loss. It often comes in the form of snacking. When you're with friends, you're excited and naturally not thinking about what you're putting in your mouth.
Unfortunately, this habit can get you into hot water calorie-wise. That's why it's important to focus on your hands and mouth as you reach and grab for food that's available wherever you are.
When you eat mindfully, you are aware of your intention to take a bite of something, the movements you make to pick up the food items and put them into your mouth, and the taste of the food as you chew and swallow.
Mindful eating is a tactic employed by many individuals who have been successful in their weight loss efforts. This practice not only helps you eat less overall, but it will also help you appreciate and enjoy your food more.
Additionally, remember that it takes several minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is not hungry anymore. Eating slower can allow for this change in hunger and stop you from gobbling up more than you actually want.
#7 Cater the Menu to You
If the party's at your house or if you have the chance to bring your own dish to an event, make sure you're choosing low-calorie foods as these will help you stay on track. As a rule, choose recipes that include healthy portions of fruits and vegetables because these are not only low-calorie foods but also full of fiber to keep you feeling satisfied.
Prepare a large plate of veggies with sour cream ranch dip or hummus, or have a plate of fruit skewers. If you must indulge, however, low-carb dark chocolate brownies or cream cheese dip can be options for dessert.
If you're in charge of the whole menu, you may feel pressure to provide some foods that are genuinely thought of as tastier and therefore contain more fat, carbs and refined sugars. You might feel you need to prepare these foods for other guests even if you're not planning to indulge yourself.
Holding yourself back can be tough, especially when everyone else is eating. If you slip and start on these high-calorie foods, however, it will most certainly inhibit your weight loss. If you're worried about this happening, don't choose to make foods that are tempting.
Instead, simply buy or make foods that have mass appeal but don't interest you in particular. For example, if you are highly tempted by anything with milk chocolate but don't care for white chocolate, choose a recipe including the latter and let other folks have at it.
#8 Don't Put Yourself Down
If you are struggling to lose a large amount of weight, you may be in the habit of being extremely self-critical. It's difficult to feel like you're making progress with your weight loss when, in fact, weight loss done right often goes quite slowly. In this way, hanging out with friends may be a challenge.
There are important reasons to stop the self-shaming. A more positive regard to your self-image sets the scene for better progress with weight loss. Before you set out to be with your friends, remember your positive qualities and build your self-esteem up.
You can use this confidence to make smart choices. Remind yourself that you do have weight loss goals, but they aren't going to happen overnight.
If you can make a good decision this one time, you can truly make progress on your journey. Finally, remember not to compare yourself to friends who may be thinner or fitter. This is your path and goal, not theirs.
#9 Tell Your Friends You're Trying to Lose Weight
It may feel embarrassing to broadcast that you're trying to lose weight, but you definitely should. Extra weight and obesity are genuine health concerns that should be taken seriously. In fact, an unhealthy diet is becoming a leading cause of death in the United States.
By telling your friends that you're trying to eat better, you'll likely get positive support and not negative backlash. This help will do you good in the long run because having social support has been known to greatly increase chances of succeeding in weight loss.
It is true that some of your friends may feel differently about your attempts at losing weight, but try to ignore negative voices. The stigma surrounding obesity can surely make you uncomfortable, but it's important to stick to your guns.
Losing weight is hard enough as it is, but when it comes to social pressure, things get even more complicated. Use these tips to make hanging out with friends while dieting no big deal. Hopefully, these tips help you make better choices all around like they did for me.
Don't forget to share your own ideas! What have you done to make eating out or snacking with friends around easier for your weight loss journey?
Leave your suggestions in the comments and share these tips with anyone else who is struggling with weight maintenance.