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,'' they 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.
Disaster#1: Your favorite restaurant, an all-you-can-eat buffet bar or portions that’s too big for three people, let alone one.
Coping Strategies: Share the wealth. If the meal is too big, share it with someone or if your dining companions aren't into sharing, there's always the doggie bag. And whether you're eating out or in, eating slowly is another tool for portion control. It can take up to 20 minutes to feel full, so eat slowly, and when you are full, stop eating.
Disaster#2: Vacations, which for many people are all about eating, drinking, and relaxing. People tend to lose sight of what their dieting goals are on vacation.
Coping Strategies: First, decide what the vacation is all about for you, ''Is it OK for you to overeat and scrap your diet, or are you going to be careful?'' The important thing is to balance out your indulgences with healthy choices. Many hotels have small refrigerators in the rooms, so if you know you want to go out for dinner and maybe splurge on a few extra calories, keep some healthy food stocked in your room for breakfast and lunch.
Disaster#3: Family gatherings at which you sit down to huge portions of fatty foods -- and are pressured to eat, eat, eat!
Coping Strategies: Be polite but stand your ground, even with family members. Nicely say, when someone is offering you something for the third time, 'I absolutely love your mashed potatoes, but I can't eat another bite,' and be firm about it. Also, remember not to bite off more than you can chew. If you want to try all the dishes, you can, just keep your portion sizes small.
Disaster#4: Long days and late nights at the office, especially when co-workers so nicely leave sweets out on their desks for all to enjoy. The office is conducive to snacking. From birthday cakes, to doughnuts in the morning at a meeting, to snacks on someone's desk, people eat these foods and they're forgotten calories, but really, they're adding up.
Coping Strategies: It's important to recognize that just because it's someone's birthday at the office that doesn't mean you have to eat cake. Or if you really want to have cake or a doughnut, share it with someone. And be sure to plan ahead so you're prepared when hunger strikes during the workday. Fill your pantry and fridge with a multitude of snacks: grapes, cherries, cheese, raisins, trail mix, or healthy granola bars, and every day you can grab two or three snacks from your supply. That way at 5:30 when you are starting to get hungry for dinner but you have a long night in front of you, you have healthy snacks to take the edge off.
Source: Mayo Clinic