April 23, 2009

Crammed with family functions, cocktail hours and barbecues, weekends can be healthy-eating minefields. Avoid the most common pitfalls with these tips from Jennifer Nelson, R.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The problem Grazing all weekend long.

Why it happens Without a structured schedule, you grab whatever food is within easy reach.

Rescue remedy Take 15 minutes midday Friday to review your weekend plans; identify any potential trouble spots (e.g., you're attending a beach barbecue on Sunday) so you can schedule your meal and snack times around them. By imposing some guidelines, you cut the chances that you'll nibble mindlessly.

The problem After a tough week you are so ready to melt into the couch -- with a big bowl of triple-fudge ice cream.

Why it happens You're craving comfort, not food.

Rescue remedy Brainstorm non-food ways to soothe yourself, like meeting a friend for a walk in the park or getting a pedicure while you catch up on summer reading. If you still need the sugar, you can usually get your fix without putting too big a dent in your diet; two Snickers Miniatures provide total indulgence but set you back just 85 calories.

The problem All three of your social events revolve around food.

Why it happens With so many tempting items within reach, it seems impossible to avoid blowing your diet.

Rescue remedy You don't have to choose between parties (or turn down every single bite). Before you leave the house, have a small, protein-rich snack (to prevent that "I'm starving" feeling). At the party, look at everything that's being offered first, then zero in on a few items that look too good to pass up and just have those.