Do you feel your busy schedule doesn’t allow you to follow healthy eating guidelines? Do you seem to have less control over your food choices at social occasions? Help is on the way. It is possible to diet in all social situations. But remember, no one can do it for you; you must do it for yourself. Make these promises to yourself to enhance your social-situation savvy:
. Be aggressive. Do not allow people to talk you into eating foods you know you shouldn’t have.
. Eat a light meal or snack before attending a special function where food is plentiful. By fasting before such a gathering, you tend to eat too much.
. Do not feel obligated to join the “clean plate dub.” Rid yourself of food guilt; you will be doing yourself a favor by helping to make your heart healthy.
. When at least one of your daily meals is eaten away from home, you may wonder how you can “stick to” your healthy menu plan. The good news is that many restaurants, even fast food restaurants and airline food service, offer a wide array of choices.
. If possible, contact the restaurant in advance. Ask about the foods available, and ask if special requests will be honored. Many restaurants will prepare dishes with margarine instead of butter; trim fats from meats; and broil, bake, steam or poach entrees. Airlines usually have dietetic meals available. Simply call and reserve yours.
. Read menus carefully and question the waiter or waitress if you have any concerns about a method of cooking or ingredient. Here are some tips on reading menus:
-Look for words that indicate low-fat preparation: “steamed,” “garden fresh,” “broiled,” “roasted,” “poached,” “in its own juice.”
-Be wary of high sodium terms: “pickled,” “smoked,” “cocktail sauce:” “cured,” or “in broth.”
-Avoid: “buttery,” “buttered,” “in butter sauce,” “fried,” “sauteed,” “panfried,” “crispy,” “creamed,” “in cream,” “hollandaise,” “au gratin,” “escalloped,” “Parmesan.”
. Choose an appetizer such as seafood cocktail, raw vegetables or fresh fruit. Avoid salty tomato juice and soups.
. If you wish to have a cocktail, remember that alcohol adds empty calories. Order your drink with water, juice or low-calorie soda rather than presweetened mixes. Choose a wine spritzer or, better yet, sparkling water with a twist of lime.
. Choose raw or steamed vegetables and salads to increase your fiber and complex carbohydrate intake.
Avoid creamy dressings, bacon, croutons and egg toppings on salads.
. If you cannot possibly turn down a favorite dessert, eat only half.