5 Tips for Enjoying Cinco de Mayo without Ruining Your Diet

A registered dietitian shares her tips for a smart plan of attack
Flickr/gozalewis, Licensed under Creative Commons

With celebrations including everything from guacamole, margaritas and tacos to queso dip, churros and beer, anyone with a weight loss goal knows that a holiday like Cinco de Mayo can potentially be a source of stress and frustration.

You want to celebrate and enjoy yourself, but you also don’t want to throw your hard work off track.

While these kinds of concerns are certainly reasonable, the truth is there’s no reason to stress yourself out over one single day.

First: because even if you do accidentally go a little overboard, it likely won’t lead to weight gain or “undo” your hard work up until that point. And second: because you can set yourself up for success by following a strategy that will keep you on track while allowing you to enjoy yourself at the same time.

Below, Jennifer Christman, RD, LDN, clinical Nutrition Manager at Medifast, Inc., offers her tips, tricks and advice for enjoying your Cindo de Mayo without taking your diet totally off track.

1. Go in with a plan.
Christman's Advice: Identify potential obstacles or barriers at the celebration and develop a plan. Tell a friend at the party about your plan for support. For example: If you know that the buffet table is your weakness, make a plan. Eat before you go to the party. Ask a friend for support, maybe the plan will be to hang out in a different room away from the food and play a game or talk with others. The important steps are to think it out, write it down and tell someone. After the party, reflect on the party and how the plan went. If it didn’t go as well as you thought, think about how you may do it differently next time.

2. Be smart about your alcohol intake.
Christman's Advice: The number one thing that might take someone’s diet off track is the high calorie beverages. Sugary, high-calorie margaritas are delicious, but loaded with empty calories; a 12-ounce margarita can have up to 680 calories. Drinking these alone will add empty calories, plus, alcoholic beverages also tend to lower inhibitions. This could lead to eating other higher calorie treats, such as chips with dip and high fat sour cream or cheeses.

If you want to try a specialty beverage, try splitting one with a friend. This will cut the calories in half. Even better, take a sip of your partner’s drink to satisfy the taste.

Additionally, if you want to have a drink or two, make sure to drink a class of water in between alcoholic beverages.

Or, if you’re playing host, you can whip up a low-calorie “mocktail.” Christman’s favorite is the Medifast® Mocktail Spiced Mockarita.

3. Know your weaknesses.
Christman's Advice: People should look out for high calorie dips and chips along with higher calorie desserts. It is easy to stand near the chips and dips and mindlessly eat and drink while talking with friends. The celebration of Cinco De Mayo brings a variety of foods, from queso dips and high calorie desserts like churros to specialty drinks and beers. If you are the type of person that cannot just have a taste, then you may be better off avoiding those food items completely.

4. Pay attention to portion sizes.
Christman's Advice: If you want to enjoy higher calorie food items, try grabbing a smaller plate, if it's available, and portion out your favorite treat. If guacamole is on the menu, a 1/4 cup of homemade guacamole has less than 100 calories. Try pairing this with fresh veggies to keep the calories in check and avoiding the higher calorie tortilla chips.

If you are crafty in the kitchen, try making healthier versions of your favorite treat. Swap out some of the avocado with broccoli and greek yogurt in guacamole. Use small whole wheat tortillas for tacos.

5. Stick to more nutritious options.
Christman's Advice: Focus on baked tortilla chips and veggies with dips made with low-fat cheeses or fresh tomatoes. Try whole wheat tortillas paired with lean ground turkey, low-fat cheese and low-fat sour cream. Load up nachos or tacos with fresh tomatoes. Enjoy lime-flavored seltzer water with a wedge of lemon or lime.

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