I hear this a lot from clients: They’re successful with their nutrition from Monday-Friday lunch, but as soon as the weekend hits, all bets are off. Honestly, I have my own experience with this as well.
Before you know it, a high calorie/carb/fat dinner on Friday becomes a weekend of takeout, booze, sweets and treats undoing all the progress you made during the week.
If this is a problem for you, too, I wanted to share some tips about how to avoid weekend overeating. Some of them may surprise you.
Aim for good enough, not perfect. I get it, you’re tired of the kale and quinoa salad you ate for lunch all week.. But, you can’t say, “screw it” on the weekends if you are serious about losing fat.
This doesn’t mean you have to be all-or-nothing. If you want a cheeseburger, have the cheeseburger, but aim for a little bit better. Is splitting a burger with a friend an option? How about ditching the fries for vegetables or try the burger in a lettuce wrap instead of on a bun.
Ditch the food rules. Do’s and Don’ts take up an awful lot of mental space and energy and aren’t really that helpful when it comes to eating healthier.
Here’s an example of how food rules can go haywire: If you have a no-carbs rule, and your friends are having pizza and beer, how would you respond? Most of us could hold out for a while, but eventually we’re going to grab a slice.
Here’s the difference: Someone obsessed with food rules might rationalize having several slices and beers because they’ve “blown their diet anyway so what’s the difference?”
Umm … the difference is several thousand calories. It’s okay to have pizza. It’s okay to have beer. Enjoy one of each and let hunger be your guide … not food rules.
Give up on cheat days. I’ve seen cheat/off days work for a lot of people. I’ve also seen it backfire. For some, that scarcity mindset during the week turns to an abundance mindset Friday evening. Not giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want in the proper quantities can lead to an overzealous cheat day/weekend. Have dessert on Tuesday night if you’re HUNGRY and in the mood for it. If it’s emotion driven- angry, stressed, bored…avoid it. You may find that this more balanced approach works better for you.
Own your choices. I really try to encourage people to stop turning food choices into moral decisions. There’s no good or bad; there are simply decisions to make. Own them. Don’t punish yourself for a bad meal and don’t pat yourself on the back for a good one. An example of how this approach can go wrong: If you turn down dessert on Tuesday night because you want to “be good” or “behave,” the boomerang effect might be eating a whole tub of ice cream on Saturday night to “balance out” your good and bad choices. If you do make a decision to eat a whole tub of ice cream, own it and move on.
Stop rationalizing. If you have an excuse every time you make an unhealthy food choice, it’s going to be very difficult to identify the actual reason you’re overeating. Enter the usual suspects – I was busy, I was stressed, I was traveling, it was a holiday, it was a Tuesday.
If we allow our “old comforts” to make the “new decisions” we will never run out of excuses. If you want to change, you have to let “New You” make new decisions occasionally. New You may stop and ask “Why am I doing this?” You may discover the root cause of your overeating and regain your power over it.
Weekends are meant to be enjoyed, but they’re still part of the week. Make a conscious effort to improve them a little. You make the decisions and are in control. Take ownership.