When you think about variables that affect our weight, what comes to mind? Portion size? Exercise? Hydration? What about day of the week? At Foodtrainers, my clients keep food journals. Items considered a treat are circled. It’s not uncommon to see weekdays that are “circle free” and weekends that look like Spirograph creations (who remembers Spirograph?) with abundant circles signifying ample indulgences.
Sure enough, research supports this day of the week concept. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing reported “participants devoured as much as 400 calories more on weekends, a 20-percent increase.” Unlike holidays, weekends happen all the time and if you’re someone living on salads Monday through Friday who subsists on sweets or Sauvignon Blanc come Saturday, we need to talk.
There are a few reasons why weekend eating is tricky:
We are less scheduled. During the week, the alarm is set and whether you’re at work or in school there are places you need to be at certain times. While workplaces have there own food booby traps, they’re conducive to structure. If you’re someone who brings meals or snacks to work you have to think about this before your day starts. You’re also likely to eat lunch when others are eating.
Weekends are another story. There’s much more winging it on the weekends. Instead of defined meals, more time around the house often leads to grazing or what I like to call pupu platter eating. Pupu platter eating isn’t pretty. I suggest a “walk through” on weekend mornings. Take a minute to think about where you’re going to be and what you will eat. Think in terms of distinct meals and snacks. Even if your day starts later I’d suggest 3 meals. This is better than two meals and ten snacks.
We are more social. Maybe you’ll have a birthday or work dinner during the week but there’s less going on. Weekends bring time with friends and family, weddings and even travel. In food terms this means increased temptation to eat more and drink more. When I point this out clients often say “should I turn down some invitations while I’m trying to lose weight?” Absolutely not (unless your mother in law is a food pusher) there’s no joy in being on house arrest but slender. Try budgeting. Look at the weekend ahead and level with yourself. How many drinks will you have Saturday night? Will there be dessert in the picture? And what about those workouts, can you fit those in around your plans? Friday is a good day to make a mental outline for yourself…unless you want more to be “circling” a lot.
Once you have one treat, may as well have another. I’ve written before about the “I’ve already blown it” syndrome when it comes to food. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the weekends. Treats happen and can and should happen even while losing weight. One treat is fine, waiting until Monday to refocus is risky. Weight loss isn’t about being “good” it’s about regrouping. Have a treat? Make the next meal on track. Regroup, regroup, regroup.
Think about this as we head into the weekend and the long weekend for Memorial Day. Nobody’s saying not to relax on the weekend but you can relax without relaxing your food (too much).
Do you eat differently on the weekends? Why do you think this is the case? Does it work for you?