Gone are the days of turning down social events and nights out just because you’re “on a diet”.
The best thing about flexible dieting is that it gives you the freedom to enjoy life while still achieving your ideal body.
Too often, people on restrictive weight loss diets alienate themselves from friends and family by avoiding social gatherings, traveling, and other events or situations where food choices can’t be controlled. This kind of diet isn’t sustainable. We live in a culture where traveling is unavoidable and where food is at the heart of nearly every gathering! So instead of avoiding traveling and social events, or being that weirdo eating out of a Tupperware container at Thanksgiving dinner, try implementing these tips and strategies that make hitting your macros part of a flexible, flavorful, and enjoyable lifestyle.
Social events, whether they be family gatherings or business parties, are typically easy to plan for. This is because you have access to your pantry and familiar food choices for most of the day—a luxury that allows you to plan your meals around the event and still hit your target macros.
When eating meals at home prior to the event, keep in mind that most social gatherings will offer high carb and fat food choices, while skimping on the protein. Think about it…when was the last time that you went to a birthday party and were showered with endless lean meat options? More likely, your food choices were limited to a table lined with Doritos, fatty dips, cake, ice cream, and a water cooler full of sugary punch.
With this in mind, you will want to save the majority of your carb and fat allowances for the event itself and eat most of your protein early in the day. Eating protein before the event will also allow you to enjoy yourself without being ravenously hungry. Moderation is also key at social events. Make sure that you’re accounting for what you eat (or drink)—you don’t have to pack a food scale with you, but be sure to overestimate portions if you are aiming for fat loss and underestimate if your goal is muscle gain. If you made the mistake of eating the majority of your macros before the event, try to find the veggie tray and pace yourself. You can still enjoy some of the other options, but don’t let it turn into a binge.
You need to be a little more creative to hit your macros when traveling. One thing you will quickly discover on the road is that most convenience store foods are mixtures of carbs and fats, with little to no protein. Therefore, the easiest way to hit your target macros while traveling is to plan ahead by packing non-perishable protein sources, such as protein bars, ready-to-drink shakes, protein powder, jerky and packaged tuna. With convenient protein sources on hand, it’s easy to meet all of your macro targets by incorporating the fat and carb-rich food sources available to all travelers.
If you don’t have time to pack protein before embarking on your trip, you will need to be prepared for the challenge of finding protein on the road. It’s hard, but not impossible. Most airports, gas stations, and travel centers have the same basic mix of prepackaged snacks. If you left home without packing any food, look for things like:
- Beef jerky
- Protein bars
- Greek yogurt
- String Cheese
If you aren’t in a rush, you can even search for nearby grocery stores where you can stock up on travel-friendly sources of lean protein. Having a mindful watch on the foods available to you, whether at a convenience store or a restaurant, matched with simple planning, will keep you on track while exploring the world.
Remember, the power of flexible dieting is the flexibility. After weighing out and measuring your foods for a while, you will become pretty good at estimating serving sizes with accuracy. Apply this strategy to travel and social events, seek out the foods that you know to be good protein sources, and when trying something new just look it up to see what’s in it! Implement these tips and strategies and soon hitting your macros while enjoying your life will become second nature.