Danger: Diet Disaster Area Ahead!
How to navigate potholes on the dieting highway without gaining a pound.
It's the all-you-can-eat buffet at your favorite restaurant, or the vacation
where you just want to let loose. Or, worse yet, it's Aunt Sophie piling
mega-portions of her secret-recipe garlic butter mashed potatoes on your plate
at the weekly family dinner.
Whatever your own personal ''diet disaster zone,'' it's a person, place, or
situation that can leave you heavy with guilt and extra pounds.
Here are some common potholes along the dieting highway that you should be
wary of, along with tips from experts on how to navigate around them without
gaining a pound.
The Disaster: Your favorite restaurant, offering up an
all-you-can-eat buffet bar or portions of creamy, buttery pasta that are too
big for three people, let alone one.
''Restaurants are tricky,'' says Rick Hall, a registered dietitian in
Phoenix. ''We feel our pocketbooks itching on our legs because we're paying so
much for the food, so we feel like we can't let it go to waste. Even if they
bring you a huge portion, you feel like you need to eat it all because you're
paying $50, $60 or more for what's in front of you.''
The appetizers don't help, especially when they come in the form of baskets
brimming with bread (with butter on the side, of course).
''What happens is you're so hungry when you get there, that when the waiter
brings out the bread, you fill up on it,'' says Hall, who lectures on nutrition
issues at Arizona State University. ''But then you still eat a full meal.''
Coping Strategies: ''First and foremost, skip the bread,'' says Hall.
''In fact, ask the waiter not even to bring it out to the table.''
Next, ask the waiter how generous the portion sizes are. If they're big
enough to feed a small army, share the wealth.
''Ask the server what the portion sizes are, and if you can share -- most
places these days will let you do that,'' says Hall. ''And the good news is
that if you share your main course, you can share a dessert as well.'' (Of
course, if your dining companions aren't into sharing, there's always the
Whether you're eating out or in, eating slowly is another tool for portion
''It can take up to 20 minutes to feel full, so eat slowly,'' says Hall.
''Otherwise, you just keep eating when really you should be done. And even
though it seems simple, when you are full, stop eating.'' And if your favorite
restaurant is the dreaded all-you-can-eat buffet? It's time to find a new
''Avoid the all-you-can-eat places like the plague,'' says Hall. ''It's just
illogical to eat that much food.''
The Disaster Area: Vacations, which for many people are all about
eating, drinking, and relaxing.