In a few days Susan is leaving for a business trip. Knowing that eating and dieting can be much trickier when traveling, we sat down with Susan to devise an eating strategy for her trip (a skill discussed on Day 32 of The Beck Diet Solution). Eating at conferences can be difficult because mainly Susan will have to eat what they serve her. However, there are some small but crucial measures she can take to ensure that she stays within her diet.
First, we discussed with Susan her need and entitlement to make demands about how her food is prepared (Day 8). If she were diabetic or had serious health problems, she would not think twice about asking for her food to be prepared to her specifications. We reminded Susan that she truly is on a “medical diet” – indeed her doctor did tell her she needs to lose weight to be healthy – so she should not hesitate to speak up. One important modification Susan should make is to ask for her vegetables to be steamed, not sautéed in oil or butter. Another small change is make sure she gets her protein (fish, chicken, etc) grilled or broiled and with whatever sauce it is served with on the side. That way she can choose how much, if any, she wants to use. A third is for when she eats salad, ask for the dressing on the side, and always request a low-fat (or fat free) alternative. Because she is actually trying to lose weight and not maintain, Susan also decided that she will forgo desserts because she will not be able to accurately figure out the calorie-count. Instead, she can ask for fruit. (Day 30)
We also helped Susan devise several rules for herself that she will strictly follow while she is traveling. Setting rules is an important way to make dieting easier because it eliminates the struggle about whether or not you should or shouldn’t eat something (Day 16). Susan’s rules are:
1. Absolutely no dessert (except for fruit)
2. No Bread at dinner
3. No heavy sauces (on protein, salad, etc)
4. Only drink black coffee
5. No alcohol, including wine and mixed drinks.
We made Susan copies of her Rules so she can read them several times a day in preparation for travel, and while she is actually at the conference as well. Lastly, we talked about what to do if she slips up on her diet and engages in unplanned eating. If this happens, Susan needs to get back on track immediately, and not compound the problem by continuing to eat more (Day 20). With her eating strategy in place, Susan now feels confident that she can travel and stay on her plan.