Problem: With all the tempting treats on offer, a trip to the cinema can be a real diet-breaker unless you are blessed with strong willpower. While air-popped popcorn is a great nutritious and diet-friendly snack, when butter and sugar are added into the equation, the tasty snack can quickly lose its healthy credentials and cinema popcorn can be extremely high in fat and calories.
Solution: Try sneaking in a healthier low-calorie packet of savory popcorn, or go for a small portion of salted popcorn and share with a friend. Alternatively, take some dried fruit crisps for a crunchy snack without the fat and calories.
Problem: Whether you’re hankering after birthday cake in the kitchen, being tempted by refreshments at staff meetings, attending fancy business lunches or being inundated with edible gifts from grateful patients or parents, your workplace can be a source of constant food temptation, and there can be a lot of peer pressure to indulge.
Solution: Bring in some healthy snacks to leave in the kitchen for next time you are tempted to indulge, or ask in work about the possibility of getting a fruit delivery for you and your colleagues to snack on at your desks and in meetings. Also, make it clear to your colleagues that you are eating healthily – after a few attempts they will most likely give up trying to persuade you to cave in.
Problem: Whether you’re attending a humble house party or a fancier cocktail one, the odds are nibbles are going to be on offer. While these snacks may look small and insignificant, the calories can quickly add up and, with alcohol increasing your appetite, you may find it difficult to say no to just one.
Solution: Try nibbling on healthier snacks such as vegetable crudités with salsa. Also, swap crisps for olives, which will cure salt cravings without the saturated fats. If you think the party may not have healthy snacks on offer, you could always try bringing your own and look like a generous guest to boot!
Problem: Many of us spend our evenings in front of the television, often accompanying our viewing with meals and snacks. However, according to research findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition, eating when distracted can cause you to ignore signals from your body that you’ve had enough, leading you to eat more than you normally would.
Solution: To help cut your calorie intake, try to keep eating and watching television as two separate activities. As we often snack due to boredom, try to limit your TV viewing to programs that really engage you and find more productive ways to spend the rest of your time.
Problem: Meeting a friend for a coffee may seem like a healthier option than getting together for lunch or an evening meal. However, even if you manage to resist the tempting cakes and treats on offer, many speciality coffees are rich in cream, whole milk and syrups and can contain as many calories as a dessert.
Solution: Ditch the whipped cream and swap rich and sugary coffees for skinny lattes, espressos and cappuccino made with skimmed milk. While these may not seem as appetising as your usual beverage, your waistline will be eternally grateful!
Problem: Drinking alcohol can lead to low blood sugar and salt levels which can trigger cravings, while post-party tiredness can seriously affect your willpower. Consequently, hangovers can cause even the strongest willed of us to give in to cravings for greasy food and high-calorie snacks.
Solution: While drinking less alcohol and alternating drinks to avoid a hangover is obviously your best option, if you do overindulge you need to give your body some TLC by stocking up on healthier hangover foods. Opt for fruit, which will raise your blood sugar levels and rehydrate you, and eggs, which will help raise your serotonin levels and fight against alcohol-induced toxins.
Problem: For many of us, mid-afternoon is a dangerous time for snack cravings, generally due to stress or boredom. In fact, according to researchers for the Atkins Diet, 62 per cent of people break their diets mid-afternoon, with 3.23pm being the time when you are most likely to give into temptation and indulge on sweet treats.
Solution: To sustain energy levels, make sure you eat a low-GI lunch such as vegetable soup with pulses, or salads with beans or fish. Also, keep some healthy snacks, such as nuts and dried fruit, to hand, or split your lunch in half and eat the rest later on. Alternatively, try leaving interesting and enjoyable tasks for the afternoon to help prevent mid-afternoon boredom or stress.
Problem: Restaurant menus can be a bit of a minefield when dieting, with even the seemingly healthiest of options often being smothered in oily and creamy sauces and dressings, and sugar making a surprising appearance in many savoury foods.
Solution: While it is good to treat yourself every so often, if you regularly visit restaurants it is important to out healthily. Opt for lean protein, such as chicken or fish, with salad or vegetables, and skip the dressings and sauces where possible. Also, avoid being talked into sharing a dessert unless it is something you really want – remember that half of something you wouldn’t have normally ordered is still extra calories on to your daily intake.
Problem: If your eyes light up at the sight of a two-for-one offer, you could be falling head first into a cleverly concealed fat trap. While many of us think of two-for-one offers as money-saving opportunities, in actual fact they could just be encouraging us to buy more – and eat more – than we actually need. Although you may believe your purchases will last longer, research shows that the more food that’s put in front of us, the more we will in fact eat.
Solution: Only go for two-for-one deals on nutritious products which you know you will leave alone or are happy to eat more of. Avoid purchasing more ice cream, crisps or other junk foods just because they are cheap; it may be two-for-one, but that means twice as many calories.
Problem: While many of us find it relatively easy to eat well during the week, it can be difficult to hold on to healthy intentions once the weekend comes around with all its temptations of restaurant meals, takeaways and nights out. However, while we should all treat ourselves from time to time, taking every weekend off from healthy eating can easily undo all your hard work.
Solution: Restricting your diet 7 days a week can seem too much like hard work, which is why many of us rebel at the weekends. However, by making sure you aren’t restricting yourself too much during the week, you will lessen your need for a treat and a “day off”, so should find it less tempting to overindulge at the weekend.