When you were 21, the guys' night out was a twice-weekly event. In fact, it was probably so ingrained in your life that it didn't need the name "guys' night out"; you were just hanging with your friends. And just as the times were care-free, so was your eating.
If you're over 30... Well, boys, them days are long gone. Between getting the kids to baseball practice and long hours at work, you're lucky if you can manage to get together with the guys and head out on the town once a month or so. But you still gotta do it!
The dynamics of this event are unique in a man's life. It's the only time when he can, and is even expected to, act like he's in college again: drinking a bit too much, eating everything in the place and generally getting silly. This causes a dire problem for those living a low-carb lifestyle -- any sign of bodily weakness in this arena will get you a razzing.
The choice is simple: Stick to your low-carb diet and risk ridicule, or go off the diet for one night, right? Wrong. Here are some strategies that will allow you to keep your dignity and follow your low-carb diet.
Strategy 1: Pre-eating
This sounds completely counterintuitive because you are used to cutting back a little on a day you know you'll have a great evening meal. Of course, this kind of thinking added those extra pounds in the first place. Actually, the practice of pre-eating is parallel to something you probably did back in college: pre-loading drinks -- downing a couple of beers before going out so you didn't have to spend $5 per drink on the first two to get "social." That was to save money; this is to save your healthy lifestyle.
Strategy 2: Order smart
Maybe you're not going out to a full-service American-fare restaurant. With many ethnic menus, finding an acceptable low-carb choice without going to salad can be difficult but not impossible. If the gang chooses something other than a steakhouse, try the following:
Pizza: Arguably the most popular food in America and the largest thorn in the sides of low-carb eaters everywhere. Pizzerias across the country are picking up loads of crust with a taint of sauce left after people scrape the cheese and toppings off. Of course, that classic low-carb maneuver is much too obvious, so opt for buffalo wings (sauce, not barbeque), which are usually available.
Other Italian: The antipasto plate is your savior here. Usually, you'll find it on the menu with the appetizers, but order it as a meal. Basically, it's an Italian deli plate with prosciutto ham, olives, pickled peppers and mozzarella cheese.
Chinese: Try the teriyaki beef or chicken; make sure the cook goes light on the sauce. Pressed duck is another good choice.
Mexican: A fajita plate comes with meat mixed with lower-carb vegetables. Quietly skip the tortillas, and you're home free.
Strategy 3: The more manly the drink, the better
But there's a better alternative. Uttering the phrase "Give me a Black Label on the rocks" will not only keep you from sissydom that night, it will likely eliminate the title from ever being applied to you. If you're going to drink, hard liquor on the rocks or with soda is the best choice.
Mixed drinks tend to be heavy on sugar-laced ingredients that will spike your blood sugar almost instantly. Even the old standards like gin and tonic have sugar in the mixer. Try a good single malt or blended scotch or, for those who want a mixed drink, a Manhattan (skip the cherry and ask for a twist) or martini.
Strategy 4: Suck on a cigar
This tells the room, "Hey, I'm busy here enjoying a fine cigar. Don't ask me if I want a sandwich." Add this accessory to the single- malt scotch you just ordered, and you've amped your level of cool to Rat Pack levels.
Strategy 5: Corner your
server away from the table
Warning: don't try this on a date or with your wife at the table. Women are uncanny at remembering what you ordered and will, with or without your consent, point out to the server that you ordered a baked potato, leading to a scene. Men will neither notice nor care that you didn't get what you ordered.
Strategy 6: Bring a low-carb
snack food with you
Following these simple strategies, you can survive a night out with the guys. And as you lose the pounds, you can stick your chest out and trumpet claims such as "It was just will power," "Really? I hadn't noticed I lost any" or anything you darn well please. This will keep you from being classified as the guy on "that" diet and avoid all the "How's your diet going, pal" comments every time you see one of your friends.
After all, it's your life, it's your health and it's none of their business unless you want it to be.