Colette's Blog

November 11, 2008

Don’t worry. It’s simple to cope during the holidays, at the cafeteria, a dinner party or even the fanciest restaurant.

On weekends, in restaurants, on the job, when you travel a lot—unless someone imprisons you in a candy store—you really have nothing to worry about. Of course, the program is not completely adaptable to dinner parties given by people with fixed ideas about what everyone should eat. You'll need a little ingenious diplomacy to get you out of that situation. Let's examine possible scenarios one by one.

On the JobAt work, you'll need to apply large doses of common sense. The coffee and Danish cart that circulates midmorning and mid-afternoon smells so good. The bagels on the conference-room table at the weekly staff meeting look so yummy. But if you've had a three-cheese and mushroom omelet for breakfast and a filling lunch, your resolve should be strong. Your resistance is at its greatest when you're satiated. Does the cafeteria or nearby luncheonette serve suitable food? Check it out, because if it doesn't, you'd better start brown-bagging it. Bring along some finger food—chicken drumsticks, hard-boiled or deviled eggs, slices of ham, cheese and steamed shrimp—to have with your green salad.

In RestaurantsControlled carb followers will usually find restaurants to be much more friend than foe. They stay in business because of their ability to make food taste great and supply good service. However, fast-food restaurants pose special challenges. Most main courses qualify as Atkins-acceptable. The trick is not to be seduced by all the extras. If it's at all possible, know what you're going to order before you walk in. And don't go for the carbohydrate extras just because they're right in front of you. You could safely eat all your weekly meals in a restaurant as long as you become familiar with the possibilities of the menu and are alert for hidden pitfalls.

If the eating establishment is one you patronize often, talk to the waiter or the maître d' and make it crystal clear that you're on a plan that permits no sugar in any manner, shape or form. This way you can root out hidden sugar in salad dressings or even in such prepared dishes as tuna-fish salad.

Go right down the menu and make sure your appetizer, main course and salad all qualify as controlled carb. Avoid sauces, breading and flour as a thickener. Such carbohydrate ingredients can be hidden in surprising places. There may be flour or grain in your hamburgers, or bread crumbs in your crab cakes. Be alert.

Finally, engage the server with all the determination and finesse you can muster, and tell him or her what you can't have in your food. Don't hesitate to inquire firmly and insistently about what is in a particular dish. Very few waiters are offended if you make it clear how important this is to you. After all, you're the one who's going to tip him at the end of the meal.

The fun comes when you discover restaurants that do great things with the acceptable foods you can eat freely. It shouldn't be too difficult to find a good cut of meat, fish or fowl with the right seasonings, prepared well and without carbohydrates. You can eat thousands of wonderful restaurant meals—100 percent in compliance with Atkins. Many upscale establishments offer lobster, roast beef, rack of lamb, crispy duck and poached salmon. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the true gourmet's delight. If you're going to lose weight, you might as well do it with satisfying quantities of fine food.

The trick in restaurants is to not start eating until the appetizer or main course arrives. Or ask for a tray of celery and olives in lieu of bread. If your companions want bread on the table, move the breadbasket to the far end of the table so it won't be under your nose. And don't forget to never save room for dessert.

Social OccasionsDinner parties can be real obstacle courses. At a pasta party, for example, there is a possibility that you may find nothing acceptable to eat. Remember that going off program for just one meal could set you back for nearly a week in regard to weight loss. The better policy is to let your host know beforehand that your doctor has prescribed a certain diet, and politely ask what is being served. If the meal does not qualify, simply have a high-protein/high-fat entrée and a salad before you leave home. Or, if you fear that protein food will be in short supply—at a buffet, perhaps—make sure you bring something along.

Now, for the Thanksgiving holiday coming up,

Five Strategies for Surviving the Holidays.

1. Don’t arrive at the holiday meal famished. Eat a small low-carb meal beforehand, or enjoy a filling snack to stabilize your blood sugar.

2. Avoid keeping dishes of candy around the house as a decorative touch. Instead, fill pretty bowls with potpourri, pinecones or colorful ornaments.

3. If you receive holiday food gifts such as chocolates or gift baskets filled with refined carbs, donate them to a shelter or take them to a holiday party so they don’t tempt you on a daily basis.

4. Set out bowls of whole nuts and a nutcracker rather than dishes filled with candy or sweetened nuts. Nuts in their shells are traditional at this time of year—plus, it takes time and effort to crack them, so you probably won’t eat too many.

5. Instead of unwinding after a day of shopping or seeking peace from holiday stress with high-carb drinks like hot chocolate and apple cider, enjoy a cup of soothing peppermint tea by the fire.

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