Spry editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
QUESTION: In our office, we have a group that goes out regularly for lunch — usually once a week, sometimes more often. I am DETERMINED to stick to my goals and lose weight this year, but I love going out with my co-workers. Do I have to give up my lunches dates? — Kellie
DEAR KELLIE: In a word, no. Doing lunch with your co-workers is something you look forward to, so you shouldn’t have to give it up. Here are some tips for continuing to enjoy the company of your pals — without sabotaging your diet.
Plan for it. On Fridays, send out a note to your group scheduling the following week’s lunch. That way, you can plan to eat healthfully most days of the week leading up to your date and the morning of.
Order an appetizer. Thanks to portion-size inflation, entrees at most restaurants are massive, enough to feed 2, 3, even 4 people. Appetizers (with the exception of things like the Bloomin’ Onion!) are typically more appropriately sized for one person. Some restaurants are willing to do appetizer-size portions of typical entrees — just ask your server.
Share. Don’t be shy about suggesting to share an entrée with a friend.
Get a to-go box — with your entrée. I know people who order a to-go box with their entrée, and go ahead and place half their meal in it before they start eating.
Cut the carbs. Carb-heavy midday meals aren’t just packed with calories — unless they’re packed with whole grains, they can leave you drowsy and looking for a 3 p.m. snack. Limit white breads, rice and pasta and stick to lean proteins and simply prepared veggies to keep your energy up and appetite satisfied the rest of the workday.
Get creative. Think about this: Are these lunches more about the PEOPLE and the conversation than the FOOD? And if so, are there other, non-food things you can do together? For instance, there’s a group in our office that brings their lunch once a week, and knits together in the break room during lunch hour. Another office I worked at held a lunchtime book group once a week. At various times in my career, I have had running groups to socialize with at lunch. There are, no doubt, others in your office who want to lose a few pounds — or just need a change — and might welcome ideas for new ways to connect other than over a restaurant meal.