What’s your first response to the question, “What destroys or derails your diet?” Chocolate or those 3 pm sugar cravings?  Think again.  Many years ago British researchers identified 3 top dieting pitfalls, and candy bars did not make the list. (And one brief explanation – the term “diet” here doesn’t mean a rigid, restrictive short-term, “Let me drop 10 pounds” type of eating. Here, it means your way of eating.)

The most potent trio of diet destroyers

Alcohol, friends, and keeping late hours were the most potent trio of diet destroyers. That’s according to a group of volunteers who used their cell phones to monitor their cravings for a week. They reported being enticed about a dozen times and giving in on about half of those occasions.

Let’s explore more of why these 3 things can spiral your healthy eating downward.


  • Learn calorie counts. People often underestimate the calories in alcohol. While I don’t have clients focus on calories in my programs, it is important to consider what you’re putting into your body. For example, light beers may have more than 100 calories a serving (and most people don’t just have one light beer). Sweet concoctions like a Chocolate Martini rack up about 550 calories.


  • Order slimmer drinks. Fortunately, there are much lighter options. A Bloody Mary contains little more than 100 calories and half of that is tomato juice, so you get important vitamins.


  • Choose smart snacks. You’ll probably drink less if you eat first and stop occasionally to refuel. Skip the deep-fried cheese sticks and opt for humus and baby carrots.


  • Slow down. Pace yourself for long evenings. Limit your consumption to one drink or less an hour.


  • Practice portion control. The size of a drink can vary dramatically. Keep in mind that some restaurants now serve as much as 6 ounces of wine per glass because customers are getting used to supersizing.


  • Drink more water. Filling up on water works wonders. You take in fewer calories and reduce the dehydrating effects of cocktail hour.



  • Share activities together. Sign up for a yoga class instead of going out for pizza after work. Enjoy your usual weekend brunch, but take a morning hike first.


  • Be mindful. Having others around can be fun, but it also tends to distract you from what (and how much) you’re eating. A night out, great conversation, catching up on the latest news can nurture you socially. However, when it comes to healthy eating, it’s so easy to get caught up in the conversations that you don’t pay enough attention to what you’re eating and also how much you just stuffed into your body! Be mindful of that and listen to your body about when you’re actually “full.”


  • Provide mutual encouragement. Some of your family and friends are bound to be working on their own health issues. Team up to cut down on sugar or eat more fiber.


  • Focus on overall health. View your eating as part of a bigger, long-term picture. While one night out with some less-than-optimum food choices isn’t going to completely destroy your health goals, it’s easy to have this become a habit.  Know what you want for your health and focus on the end goal. Enjoy your friends, while also putting your health as a priority.


Late Hours

  • Maintain a consistent schedule.  Go to bed and get up at about the same time every day. That includes weekends and holidays.


  • Turn off devices before bed. Bright screens and crime dramas may be keeping you up at night. Shut off your phone and computer a least an hour before you’re ready for sleep.


  • Manage stress. Most of us are facing stress on a daily basis so learning how to better cope with stress is something that is vital to your overall health. Regular exercise and doing something to help you relax is us Engage in regular exercise and relaxation practices. Take a walk or play racquet sports. Listen to soft music or learn to knit.


  • Develop bedtime rituals. Let your mind and body know that it’s time to give in to drowsiness. One of the key points I help clients with is a regular night-time routine.Lie in a warm bath. Read one chapter of a classic novel each night.


  • Upgrade your sleep environment. Black out drapes will stop street lights from keeping you up. Replace a sagging mattress if needed. Clear away clutter or store it out of sight.

Plan ahead to keep the most common triggers from derailing your health goals.  Let your friends be part of your support team for developing healthier habits for everyone! Drink responsibly and get adequate sleep.  Make healthy eating and healthy living your goal!

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