Dating and dieting can be tricky. It’s been a while since I dated, but I’ve got kids who date and friends who are back on the dating scene after divorces or other relationship-changing situations. It’s hard enough to stick to your diet when it’s just you, but throw in a budding relationship—where dinners out and movie popcorn are the norm—and you’ve got the potential for a dieting disaster. Here are four practical suggestions for staying on track while your new relationship takes off.
Take Control of Date Planning
Do your waistline a favor and offer to take control of planning the date. That way you can decide where you want to eat, what the evening activities will be, and know in advance what dieting challenges to be prepared for. Of course, it’s just good manners to ask for input from your date.
For example, instead of going to a restaurant with foods you have a hard time saying “no” to, choose a restaurant that has a variety of foods, including some healthy options you actually like. Or, instead of eating out, plan an active date of hiking, walking through a museum or botanical garden, or riding a bike down a trail.
Think Before You Drink
Water is always a safe choice and doesn’t pack on the pounds, but during a date you might want something more fun. Before you get a second glass of wine, refill your sweet tea, or order another cocktail, remind yourself that drink calories count and add up quickly.
Here’s a quick guide to calories in soda, tea, and alcohol:
- 16 ounces of cola averages 176 calories
- 5 ounces of red wine averages 126 calories
- 12 ounces of regular beer averages 153 calories
- 16 ounces of sweet tea averages 150 calories
- A 6-ounce glass of gin and tonic averages 143 calories
For your second glass consider switching to water, diet soda or tonic, or sparkling water.
Some restaurants offer the option of a standard portion or a small portion. Always default to the small portion if possible to give yourself a chance at sticking to your calorie budget. Pay attention to the calorie counts if they are listed on the menu and choose an item that is lower in calories. Remember that losing weight is about calorie balance.
Another smart ordering strategy is to ask if your date wants to split an entrée with you. After all, part of dating is learning if you have similar tastes, right? If he or she doesn’t want to split a meal, eat the portion you would have eaten if you had split the meal and leave the rest on your plate or ask for it to be boxed up.
Stay Mindful and Focused
It’s easy to get swept away in the emotions of the dating relationship. But it is not impossible to stay focused on your goals at the same time. It just takes being mindful about your choices and focusing on what’s good for you.
When you eat out, go to a movie, or stop for a coffee at the end of a date, keep both your life and your health goals in mind. Both are equally important for a healthy, happy you.