Prioritize Low-Calorie Protein and Veggie Sources Early in the Day
Utilize Intermittent Fasting to Save Majority of Calories for Your Event
Be Mindful of Your Intake and Estimate Portion Sizes
Enjoy Your Food Guilt-Free, Get Back on Track Tomorrow!
Realistically, being able to eat at home and track your nutrition becomes a pretty simple habit after a couple of weeks of practice, but what happens when you’re out of the house and your food scale and nutritional labels aren’t as readily available? At a restaurant, this is pretty straightforward (and will be covered in a separate post), but when eating at social events when your nutrition isn’t so straightforward, it becomes much more difficult to stay on track. A lot of people make the mistake of freaking out, give up on their ability to estimate, and simply throw in the towel and have an all-out “cheat-day”. Listen, I’m all about moderation and being able to enjoy food that you love, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to make the mistake of binging when you have tools at your disposal to eat what you please AND stay on track with your fitness goals. I’ve provided you guys with this four-step system I recommend so that you can use you to indulge in the foods you enjoy with these special events, enjoy this precious time with friends and family, and be able to stay on-course with your nutrition if you so choose.
Step 1: Prioritize Protein and Veggies Early in the Day
Assuming this event is taking place at night, I highly recommend maximizing your nutrition as much as possible earlier in the day. You can expect that a lot of the foods you’ll be consuming won’t be macro-friendly, micronutrient-dense foods, so be sure to do your best to accomplish that the rest of the day! I recommend stocking up on filling lean proteins, as well as low-carb vegetables and fruits that will keep you satiated throughout the day. A lot of people make the mistake of eating a bigger breakfast and lunch, then restrict themselves at the night of their event. To me, it makes it much more fulfilling to eat as well as you can earlier in the day, then enjoy some more “junk” foods at night knowing you planned ahead and stayed true to your nutrition earlier in the day. If your event is earlier in the day, take the opposite approach and simply improve your nutrition in the evening and before bed. And really this same approach can be applied on an everyday basis. There’s really no need to feel guilty or have a “cheat day” when you know that you can simply be mindful of the foods you’re eating and do your best to eat well most of the day.
Step 2: Use Intermittent Fasting To Your Advantage
Intermittent Fasting or at least a variation of it is another strategy I recommend and practice myself when I have a special event at night. I fast for as long as I can in the morning, then typically have a smaller protein-rich meal during the afternoon, and at night have plenty of calories to work with to enjoy as much food as I’d like! If you’re someone that must have breakfast, that’s totally fine too, simply allot for that and eat light in the afternoon. With intermittent fasting it doesn’t really matter when you eat, as much as saving as many calories as you can for your evening meal. Take Thanksgiving as an excellent example of a time fasting can work into your favor. You know that you’re going to have a big meal at night filled with delicious, higher-calorie foods and that you’re going to want all of them! Let’s say you’re aiming for 2500 calories a day to stay on track with your weight loss goals. If you simply ate just 500 in the morning/afternoon, and saved the remaining 2000 for the evening meal, you consume a massive meal with your favorite Thanksgiving food and still stay on track with your fitness goals! If you want to eat more at night, I recommend getting in a lifting/cardio session in the morning giving yourself even more room in your calorie budget.
Step 3: Estimate Your Portion Sizes as Best as you Can
Just as I would recommend when eating out at a restaurant, do your best to estimate portion sizes based individual foods you consume during your meal if you do choose to track your food. For example on Thanksgiving, I’d track my turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans all separately, and just estimate servings sizes for each item. No big deal, not 100% accurate but doing the best I can and that’s all that matters! If you’re already planning ahead and eating light in the beginning of the day, this really won’t make much of a difference at night because you’ve already saved the majority of your calories and have room for a big plate! And if you don’t want to track your food or it interferes with your time spent with your family, then there’s absolutely no reason to do it. You’re a human and you’re never going to be perfect, so 1 day of “bad eating” will not provide you any health problems in the long-run.
Step 4: Enjoy Your Food Guilt-Free!
At the end of the day, and as you’ve probably heard before, one individual meal or “cheat day” will not throw away the progress you’ve made. You are definitely more than welcomed to and encouraged to use the strategies I’ve highlighted above, but if you fall off of the wagon for a short period of time and aren’t on point with your nutrition, no need to stress or worry! Flexible dieting is all about doing the best you can, so just get right back on track with your normal eating as soon as you can. If you’re reading this article, you probably already exercise often and eat well most of the time, so treat yourself once in a while and don’t feel bad about it. Food should not always be the main concern of your day-to-day life, and sometimes taking the time to take a step back and improve your mindset with your nutrition can be incredibly beneficial to your fitness success in the long-run.
How do you plan your approach for eating at special events? Let me know any other strategies you like to use below.