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How to Catch Up With Friends Without Derailing Your Diet

Getting together doesn’t have to center around food and drinks. Here are a few diet-friendly ways to hang out.

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Story Highlights
Having friends over for dinner means you control the calorie count
You can walk while you talk
Multitask: Catch up and decompress at the nail salon
Hanging out over breakfast is a healthier choice

More often than not, getting together with friends involves eating – and lots of calories in the form of food and drink. We catch up at happy hour, where the drinks and apps are plentiful, or over a dinner out, where chefs are liberal with butter and oil and it’s hard to say no to dessert. But it doesn’t have to be this way: There are a variety of fun ways to get together with friends that won’t lead to calorie overload.

Invite friends over for dinner

When you serve dinner, you're in charge. You can serve a delicious meal, but in reasonable-size portions without unnecessary added fat and salt. “It’s much healthier because it’s within your control and you’ll have plenty of time to catch up without being in a loud, crowded restaurant where you might [feel] rushed,” says Keri Gans, R.D.N., a nutrition consultant in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You.

Walk and talk

Meet a friend or a group of pals in the park to swap stories and catch each other on the latest news, suggests Jennifer Cohen, a fitness expert in Los Angeles and author of No Gym Required. If you usually get coffee when you get together, get it to go and enjoy it while you stroll (and burn off the calories).

Get a manicure or pedicure together

Instead of spending money on happy hour or dinner, why not go to a salon where you can sit and get pampered together? You’ll have the chance to catch up on each other’s lives and decompress at the same time, Gans says.

Meet a friend for breakfast

“People tend to make healthier choices at breakfast than they do at dinner,” Gans says. “Plus, drinks and desserts aren’t offered at breakfast so there are fewer opportunities to go down a path you wouldn’t want to.”

Play tourist together

Go sightseeing at museums, monuments and other landmarks on foot or bike, suggests Cohen. "You'll have a chance to chat and get a dose of activity and culture while you're at it. It's a win-win situation." 

Go out for a light dessert

Meet for frozen yogurt -- minus a lot of extra toppings -- and you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy sweet treat and catch up with a friend, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.N., author of The Flexitarian Diet. A hidden benefit: “It’s easier to eat less at dinner when you know you have dessert coming,” she says.

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Host a nail party, have game night or go to karaoke.

Pull up some DIY nail-art instructions or play a classic board game like Clue, Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit. Or, plan a karaoke night – and go easy on the drinks.

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Try joining a book club.

Pick a book, pick a time, rotate between houses and see what happens. A book club is easy to organize and a good reason to get together with a group of friends every month, and reading the chosen book throughout the month gives you an excuse for a little stress-relieving "me time." If snacks are a part of the meet up, bring something healthy and just leave the higher-calorie fare off of your plate. 

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Be upfront about keeping food out of the equation.

When you’re dieting and your friend isn't, you don't have put yourself in a situation that involves beer and pizza because she's feeling indulgent. Before you get together, tell her you're eating healthy and losing weight and ask for her support. Together the two of you can come up with a plan for other things to do, that have no high-calorie temptations in sight.

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November 16, 2013

that a very good and different article ...