I hear this a lot from clients: They’re successful with their nutrition from Monday-Friday, but as soon as the weekend hits, all bets are off. Before they know it, a cheat meal becomes a cheat day, which becomes a cheat weekend. Booze, bread, fried foods, undoing all the progress they made during the week —especially on the holiday weekends!
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. The tips are from a recent article I came across from Precision Nutrition, but I know you’re busy so I summarized it for you :-)
Aim for good enough, not perfect. If you sit down for lunch with your friends and they don’t offer the kale and quinoa salad you normally have for lunch during the week, how should you respond? People with an all-or-nothing approach might say, “screw it,” and have the bacon cheeseburger and heaping helping of fries. But if you stop trying to be perfect and aim for a little bit better, your weekends will be much more successful. You can still have the burger but try it in a lettuce wrap instead of on a bun. Or substitute greens for fries.
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?”
The difference is several thousand calories. It’s ok to have pizza. It’s OK to have a beer. Enjoy one of each and let hunger be your guide, not food rules.
Give up on cheat days. If you have a scarcity mindset during the week, the opposite of scarcity is abundance. Not giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want in the proper quantities can lead to binging on the weekend. Have dessert on Tuesday night if you’re hungry and in the mood for 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 and don’t pat yourself on the back, either. 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. What I mean by that is, if we just write off overindulgence with the usual excuses (I was busy. I was stressed. I was traveling. it was a holiday …) then we’re basically never going to run out of excuses. What if you stopped each time and thought, “why am I doing this?” You may discover the root cause of your overeating and regain your power over it.
I hope these tips help you embark on the holiday weekend with a better command of your decisions. Have fun. Be safe. Indulge if you want to. Just be sure to consciously make that decision, own it, stop trying to be perfect, and stop making excuses. All of this is being IMpowered.