Eating healthy Monday through Friday is easy. You’re on a schedule, motivated, determined, and have few distractions. But on weekends your weight loss plan is put to the test, especially if you go out to dinner. Before you know it, you find yourself indulging in the bread basket, a few glasses of wine, and maybe even a decadent dessert. That work week discipline seems to have disappeared!
You’re not alone. A study published in the journal Obesity found people who stuck with a strict diet all week, then overindulged on the weekends, not only lost weight slowly, but actually gained an average of nine pounds per year. You don’t have to fall into the trap. It may be tempting to lounge on the couch after a hard week’s work, but healthy weekend eating is equally as important and easy as weekdays. You just need to be in the right mindset.
Get Outside: Work schedules don’t allow you to see much daylight during the week, so you have to take advantage of the opportunity on the weekends. Studies show connecting with nature makes you happier and even motivates you to move. Taking a walk, riding your bike, or going on a hike to connect with nature’s greens is a great way to clear your head. It literally takes your mind off food and gives your body much-needed exercise.
Limit Liquid Calories: It’s easy to down an entire bottle of wine or indulge in a few too many cocktails after a long week, but this weekend eating habit can pack on the pounds. One five-ounce glass of wine has about 125 calories, and if you finish the bottle it’s like eating a whole meal. It’s OK to treat yourself, but try to keep the cocktails to one glass.
Eat out, but eat smart: Going out for meals is great way to reconnect with family and friends, and it can be a part of your weight loss plan by making sensible decisions. If you can’t resist the bread basket, don’t ask for a refill, or ask not to have it brought to the table at all. If you show up to a restaurant ravenous, you’re going to eat the first thing in sight, so plan ahead by having a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit, before you leave. You should also have an idea of what you’re going to order, so you don’t make a last-minute, fattening decision.
Use it as time to cook: Cook on the weekend, eat for the week. Use your extra time to try a new, healthy recipe. Make the recipes, then double them to have leftovers during the week. You’ll avoid the temptation of fattening restaurant dishes all together, and you won’t have to hit the fast-food joints on days you have to work late the following week. It’s a win-win.
Be social: If you’re at party, don’t focus on food. Focus on socializing. It’s hard to eat when you’re running your mouth. Use the time to catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while or make a new friend. It’s the real reason you came to the party in the first place.
Stick to your schedule: It’s tempting to sleep in, but rising at the same time on the weekend will make it easier to stick with your traditional eating schedule. Try to eat three meals a day, just like you would during the week, to avoid overindulging at dinner. Think about it: You feel great during the week, so why would you change your weekend eating plan?
Splurge: That’s right. After a long week you deserve a treat—it doesn’t have to be edible. Go shopping for a new outfit, book a massage, or see a movie instead of eating a bag of chips or an entire cake. You won’t regret your splurge, and you’ll keep your weekend eating on weight loss track.