Things aren’t always going to be easy? How do you keep your cool and make it through the rough patches without getting off your plan?

When you have to eat fast food.

Contrary to popular belief, fast food is not inherently higher in calories than homemade counterparts. However, most menu items still tend to be calorie dense. This is because they have an incentive to make their food really delicious for the least cost, with little or no regard to calories. Which basically means they load them up with fat and sugar. If you did that to your food at home, it would be calorie dense too.

However, not everything they serve is a calorie bomb. If you’re on the go, here are a few basic guidelines how to eat at fast food without breaking your calorie bank.

1. Avoid, or at least be wary of, the carbohydrate based side dishes.

No, it’s not what you may be thinking. There’s nothing wrong with carbohydrates. In fact, they have many benefits. However, the carbohydrate rich side items at fast food tend to be fried, or smothered in cheese and sour cream, or in many cases, fried, then covered in cheese and chili. It’s not the Wendy’s baked potato itself that has all the calories. It’s the butter, cheese, sour cream, and bacon people like to put on it. Many fast food restaurants offer non-fry sides. Always look to these for low calorie alternatives. If the side is a salad, remember to mind the dressing.

2. Try the chicken.

Almost every fast food place has some form of chicken. When ordering a chicken sandwich, or other chicken, go with grilled instead of fried. Since chicken has much less fat than other meats, it’s significantly lower calorie.

3. Condiments and toppings have calories.

If something has ranch, mayo, bacon or avocado on it, those are going to add up. If you aren’t too worried about sodium, try mustard as a low calorie condiment. Be aware of these as it may invalidate previous guidelines. Yeah, looking at you, Chicken Bacon Ranch Combo

4. Get a water, or at the very least a diet soda.

There is nothing so jam packed with calories, that is so utterly devoid of nutrition, and so not filling as sugary sodas. Just don’t bother.

Final thoughts:

None of these guidelines are any more important to the others (okay, the soda one is the probably the most important one… just say no), and you’ll have to keep all of them in mind. Consider the aforementioned Chicken Bacon Ranch example.

Planning for holidays, parties, and potlucks.

Holiday parties, birthday parties, office potlucks and other events are just bound to be packed with tons of tasty calorie dense food. Even aside from events, It seems like every office has those handful of employees that will just take any excuse to bring in cookies, donuts, etc. So how do we deal with these dessert buffets? You have 4 basic options. Your exact plan may differ in the details.

1. Don’t eat food at the event.

This is the most straightforward option, and requires the most willpower. But it works every time, and has zero chance of throwing you out of your routine. This is the option I’ve used more than any other.

2. attempt to count the calories of what you’re eating.

With this option, you can try to stay within your goal, or give yourself a few (300-700) bonus holiday calories. This allows you to indulge, but not go overboard.

3. count on a weekly deficit, and front load your cutting

With this option, you’d eat slightly less for the several days leading up to the event, then use the bonus calories for the event. You can either attempt to count calories at the event, or not and just rely on the cushion of have to lessen the impact.

Let’s say you have a party this weekend, and a daily calorie goal of 1700. You could eat 1500 for 6 days, then during the party, you’d have 1200 calories in addition to your daily allotment of 1700 calories, to play around with.

4. Say “Fuck it”

Lastly, you can just not count calories and eat whatever you feel like. This is the easiest option to execute, but has maximum risk of throwing you out of your routine. In the long run, a single day will be a tiny blip in your weight loss history, and even if you were worried, you would have to consume 3,500 calories MORE than you burned, in order to gain a single pound of fat from a single day.

The kicker is this: if you do this often enough, you may find that you start to get more and more loose with your definition of “special event” and before you know it, you’re forgetting to track at all. This option is very risky, and I wouldn’t recommend it at all if you’re just starting out.

What can I do if I screw up?

When you find you’ve lost your way, maybe you ate a cookie you shouldn’t have. Or went out for a pizza buffet at lunch, or haven’t logged a single entry in weeks. There is, and always will be, one and only one thing you can do.

Get right back to on the horse.

The sooner you can get back to logging, and eating at a caloric deficit, the better, but it’s never too late. Never let a slip up spiral into an excuse for more. A bad hour does not make a bad day, a bad day does not make a bad week, a bad week does not make a bad month, and a bad month does not make a bad year.