Do you find that you are being super good during the week but your weekend spirals out of control? Does your day/week look something like this –
• At 6:00am you have your omelette or oats, healthy glass of orange juice topped up with an espresso while you dash about getting the kids ready for school. Then a dash to the office
• You eat your lunch at your desk, maybe a chicken wrap or a healthy tuna & rice salad. You try your best to make healthy choices even if you order your lunch as take away. Pretty simple.
• Dinner with clients you try your best to prioritise protein and small amount of carbs and limit your alcohol – you survived that too!
• You usually have some healthy mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks as you try desperately to avoid the allure of the office fridge, which is filled with tantalizing fizzy drinks or some cakes that your colleagues have brought in.
Overall, the weekdays go pretty well, despite your intense and stressful schedule because you have a ROUTINE. Having a routine allows you to focus on limiting your portions and eating cleaner foods. But once Friday comes around, your willpower quickly evaporates, and you let your guard down completely.
The spiral would start when your company ordered pizza for lunch on Friday. After promising yourself you would only have one slice, you would invariably grab 3, or 4 more. You justified that, “Hey it’s ok, I had a tough week and I ate well. I deserve this”. Then you would grab that can of fizzy drink from the fridge because eating so much food for lunch made you drowsy. The caffeine and sugary taste of that Coke helped kick you back into gear. Later that day around 6:00pm came happy hour with some friends, then dinner, then if you were feeling particularly ambitious, you would head to some bars. On Saturday, you would miss breakfast because you have your kids to ferry around from one hobby to another, grab something on the go cause you were too busy to prepare anything to take with you, then you start nibbling on that bag of nuts that has been sitting in your bag and all of a sudden you have downed 800 cals topped once again with a can of coke. Evening comes and the family fancy a takeaway – oh yes why not, I cannot miss out on family fun – a nice Indian takeaway laden with creamy sauces – YUM!!!
Come Sunday lunch at the in laws who have no idea of portion control and every plate looks like they are feeding the 5000! BAAM!!
So this is a typical “weekend spiral” that many busy people with demanding jobs and juggling a busy family life experience to varying degrees. It seems like once the daily grind comes to a halt, any willpower we have can dissipate.
Here are a handful of suggestions that may help you improve your eating on the weekends:
• Have 1-2 “cheat” things each week. Maybe it’s ice cream Friday night, or an extra couple beers or glasses of wine Saturday night. By choosing one, or two specific things where you can enjoy yourself and splurge, you can avoid the spiral.
• Be “aware” of the tendency you have to eat poorly on the weekends. Awareness that you have developed unhealthy habits to reward yourself alone can be helpful.
• Find activities that you enjoy that replace the desire to eat a lot of unhealthy foods, or drink too much alcohol. Maybe it’s joining a sports team, getting more sleep (not really an activity, but helpful), or doing some hiking with the family. Stress and lack of sleep are a big driver of overeating, so adding some activities you enjoy can help reduce stress in your life.
• Try to include a workout at the weekend, this keeps you in a routine and helps keep you in line to eat smarter. If you can’t get to the gym do a session at home or even a run. Because you have worked out you don’t want to negate all the effort with poor eating later that night, or during the weekend in general.
• If you are visiting family and can’t monopolise the menu, be polite about your portions, avoid the bread basket, drink water with your meal avoiding fizzy drinks and limit the alcohol to a glass or wine or 1 beer. Oh the nibbles – stay away they can be extremely high in salt, making you crave alcohol and highly calorific.
We would like to hear your opinion, but we feel the lack of structure during the weekends and the desire to use food as a reward and to relieve stress is what causes the spiral. The weekend spiral is deeply psychological and tied to the stress and intensity of the daily grind.