Summer Dieting Done Right!

A large family sitting at a picnic table for a July 4th barbecue( — Once summer hits, most people find themselves much busier than usual. Endless barbecues, business lunches and fundraisers, end-of-the-work-week drinks and dinners, and even more partying on the weekend – all while you’re trying to diet. Sound familiar?

Do Diet Plans + Busy Social Calendars Always = Pounds That Won’t Go Away?

Trying to sync your diet plan with a packed summer social calendar could be like mixing oil and water — a frustrating, if not impossible, effort. Sooner or later it becomes obvious why those pounds are sticking around instead of melting away.

You can control portion sizes and calories when you’re making your own food. But enter a room with a buffet table, an open bar, and circulating trays of bacon-wrapped shrimp, and who can keep track?

5 Tips for Sticking to Your Diet at a Social Event

Here’s how to keep your weight-loss plans on track with even the busiest social calendar…

1. Never arrive hungry. Hunger will weaken your resolve. The best approach is to eat before you go, like a snack or mini-meal that’s light, filling, and healthy. “Take the edge off your appetite by eating a piece of fruit, a low-fat yogurt, soup, or a salad before leaving home,” advises Molly Gee, RD, MEd, a nutritionist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

2. Be polite, but firm, when turning down food. “First say ‘thank you’ and then say ‘not right now, maybe later,’ or whatever seems to be appropriate,” says Gee. If you’re not sure you know how to politely turn down your hostess’s carefully chosen goodies, do some role-playing with a trusted friend, colleague, or the mirror.

3. Avoid temptation. When you first enter a room, take note of where the buffet table, bar, and dessert table are — and avoid them. “Out of sight, out of mind is important in this situation,” says Gee. Even if you see something tasty on a pal’s plate, you will have to navigate across the room to get it — giving you time to reconsider.

4. Invite a healthy diet date. Attend your special event with someone who can support you in your diet. “Invite someone who will help you make healthier choices,” says Gee. Tempting as it may be to invite a pal who will give you her salad in exchange for your roll and dessert, Gee cautions against this approach: “It’s not nice to suggest that someone else become the over-indulger on your behalf.”

5. Manage your overall calendar. For some people, eating events seem to pile up like cars in rush hour. Gee emphasizes that you have control over all of this — not only which events you attend, but what you do at those events and what you do in your non-event time. “Focus on the events and activities around food and exercise that you can control,” Gee advises. Schedule in the diet-friendly moments for healthy eating and exercise that you need.

Don’t Forget To Actually Have Fun!

Above all, keep your outing eating in perspective. “One eating event will not wreck your health. It’s more important to consider your eating and exercise habits on most days,” says Gee. “The key is to acknowledge that you are making a choice to include some extra calories at this eating event. Do it, enjoy it, and then go back to your usual healthy lifestyle afterwards without that burden of guilt.”