A few months ago I wrote about some challenges women face when it comes to weight loss – menopause, pleasing your family, and post-partum weight retention. Obesity is linked to cancer, so it’s important to think about how we can all maintain a healthy weight to decrease our cancer risk. With this being National Men’s Health Week, I’d like to focus on ways to overcome some unique challenges I hear from men who are working to lose weight and stay healthy.
1. “There’s usually lots of beer, nachos or other unhealthy foods when I go out with my friends.”
Whether its watching sports or other get togethers, it’s hard to eat healthy when you’re surrounded by indulgences. Distractions like TV make it even harder to pay attention to what (and how much) you’re eating.
Solution: There are a few ways to make a situation like this easier. First, you can eat before you go. If you aren’t hungry, enjoy the event and the company around you without all the eating and drinking. If you want to drink alcohol, make sure to have a tall glass of water before or after a drink. That’s a good way to stay hydrated and just slow down a bit to limit the number of drinks. Another strategy if you’re at a house gathering, bring healthier foods like raw cut veggies and salsa, and drinks like seltzer water.
2. “A salad isn’t cool.”
You might know what the healthier option is, but it’s hard to select the greens if your friends give you a hard time for ordering something healthy.
Solution: Order the food you would normally get, but plan to eat only half and save the rest for the next day. Eat slowly and no one will even notice your smaller portion. Another option is to make a swap – switch the fries or potato side for a vegetable. You may be surprised that those around you don’t even notice you aren’t eating the typical burger and fries.
3. “My work is constantly taking me out for food and drinks.”
It’s hard to say no when offered free food and drinks, especially when you feel an obligation to accept the offer.
Solution: This one takes a little cognitive restructuring. Think of this: if you aren’t hungry, the food is essentially being wasted. Don’t eat something just because it is there – save it for a time you will truly enjoy it. You can also accept the offer for a social food gathering and attend to be polite – you don’t have to eat. Spend your time socializing, but eat before or after.
4. “I keep the Oreos and Doritos in the house for my kids.”
Your kids crave the processed foods like chips, Ramen noodles, and cookies and before you know it, you’re snacking on these foods too.
Solution: Set the example for your kids. Everyone is allowed to indulge at times, but things like chips and sweets should be just that: once in a while indulgences (even for your kids!). Make it easier to eat healthy for both you and your kids by stocking your house with healthy foods – things like fresh veggies, fruits, yogurt, nuts/nut butters – and eliminate the processed foods from your house.
How do you eat well in the face of today’s food environment?
Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a clinical dietitian at the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center. She has a passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. You can follow her on twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.