Don’t let birthday celebrations, date nights, quick getaways, parties or other fun weekend events throw you off your healthy eating and exercise groove. For many, the weekends can be the hardest days to stay on track, so here are some tips to help keep a long-term health perspective and stay on the path towards your health goals, even when chicken wings and birthday cake are staring you in the face.

Bring a healthy dish or snack with you to the party. If you are worried about being surrounded by party foods that are going to end up making your stomach feel miserable or set you off into a frenzy of over-eating, prepare a dish a two to share at the party, that way you know you have a healthy option to choose from. Making sure healthy food is convenient, whether you’re home or at a party, is a key to healthy eating success.

Use a smaller plate. The illusion of a lot of food can make our brains happy. Using a smaller plate and allowing yourself to enjoy small portions of some of your favorite party foods, can bring you the satisfaction. And now you can fill your plate up, without putting you over your calorie budget.

Pick a good seat. At social gatherings, it’s always smart to seat yourself away from all the finger foods. It’s way too easy to mindlessly munch for hours on snacks, and 1000 calories later be stuffed and feel guilty.

Make time to exercise. If you know you are going to be attending a party or weekend adventure, it may be an awesome idea to get some exercise before hand. A good endorphin buzz that comes from a cardio or heart pumping strength training session can get you in a healthy mind-set that will carry over into the day’s events.

Portion is key. If you choose to indulge in a food that isn’t normally in your diet, make sure your portion is in check. Desserts are my favorite, so I personally like to use the 3 bite rule. Put enough on your plate for about 3 bites, and slow down and ENJOY! You won’t feel deprived after either.

Stay positive. One weekend or cheat meal isn’t going to ruin everything. Don’t get discouraged. I like to focus on a “healthy lifestyle,” which doesn’t mean perfect eating or never missing a day of exercise. It’s about small consistent efforts over time, that add up to HEALTH.

Enjoy the out-of-the-ordinary weekend adventures and use some of these tips to avoid guilt and overeating, and get right back on track after your celebrations.

Gillian Funk is the owner of Studio G in downtown Twin Falls. She can be reached at 208-595-2447.