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?
while it doesn't always work out, I try to eat better on the weekend. Especially sunday night is a great time for us to make a really healthy dinner that we don't usually have time to make during the week. But, I agree. Sometimes I can fall for being less scheduled and more social, but my friends and I try to get together for yoga and other activities where we can be active rather than eating a big brunch or something. This is a great reminder going into the weekend!
My eating is definitely worse on the weekends. Like you mentioned, during the week I am on a schedule and I pack up my meals and snacks for the day and have my dinner plan in place when I get home. Then comes the weekend and I welcome the break from my rigid structure. I let down my guard and allow myself to have things I would have never packed up for myself during the week. I also tend to eat out more often on the weekends and while I try to order something healthy, it's still more food and calories than I would consume if I was eating at home. I try to get in exercise over the weekend to compensate for this. Thanks for this reminder as we head into the weekend!
I do plan less on weekends, and sometimes that can be a problem. I still try to keep my "treats" in mind though – either dessert or a drink, etc. I'm also usually a lot more active on the weekend, which is good, but it's not a license to eat a lot more…
For some weird reason, I am usually better on weekends. Probably because I am in control of my time, unlike during the week, when it's at the mercy of others.
What a timely post! I can totally relate to what you've spoke of. During the week I am at work and have eating down to a schedule. I know exactly what to eat and when every day. Then weekend comes and there is no 'plan' which makes it so hard to predict! I will definitely be thinking of this post this weekend – hopefully it will give me perspective. 🙂
It's like you've seen my food journal. . . yes, weekends are my issue. Need to print this post.
I think this post hits pretty close to home for most of us. I try to eat as well as I can during the week, because I always anticipate the weekends. I see my Italian grandparents every sunday, and even though I'm at the point where I can resist baked ziti seconds, the sheer amount of time spent at the table with antipasto platters in front of us certainly leads to some "pupu plattering."
I LOVE weekend eating but it's probably because I have more time to make my meals and really enjoy them! I find that I typically DO indulge a little mnore on weekends (eating out or with family) but it's almost never out of control or way over what I usually eat. However, I have plenty of clients who lose it on the weekends and your tips are excellent! I agree 100%!
I'm also curious how you started your business? I would love to email with you about how you began and any advice you could offer someone just starting out! Thanks LAuren! firstname.lastname@example.org
Weekends are my downfall. During the week I pack all of my food so I know what I have to eat. On the weekend I have all the food sitting in my pantry. Plus, we usually have friends over which means pizza, nachos or something equally unhealthy.
Such a good point (above) about activity and eating. Longer workouts or races can be a license to overeat (recently posted about workout rewards).
I definitely eat different on the weekend. I agree that structure is a big part of that. I tend to also go longer without eating where as at work, I would never do that.
The one thing that helps is my weekend workouts. Since I work out in the am, it makes me more motivated to keep on the pattern of healthy eating, etc.
Great point on budgeting! I think my food intake is about the same on weekends as it is on weekdays, but cocktails or wine can sometimes add up on the weekends. Now you've got me thinking about this weekend…big progressive dinner party Saturday night with the main course at my house, and it's definitely not going to be low cal! I'm thinking Sunday will be low cal and a big exercise day 🙂
EA- what's a progressive dinner party? Balancing Sat with Sunday is good though too much wine/cocktails can kill a "big exercise" day for me.
During the weekend it's always harder to turn a treat down 🙂 I would agree that it's sometimes a problem 🙂
this is such a good topic! thank you for blogging about it 🙂 i battle with this all the time. i feel like i earned it because the week was hard and i deserve to feel full and have some wine. my husband helps me stay on track but it is tough! plus i do workout more on the weekends but still…..not enough. when i stay true to the course instead of wavering i feel so much better on mondays. but sometimes it is fun to just stop and relax and that means food too.
Everything you've outlined here happens to most of the women I know on the weekends, including myself. It's not uncommon to gain 2 pounds by Monday only to lose it by Friday and start the same cycle all over again. I'll incorporated your tips and see if I can be more successful this weekend.
I definitely eat worse on the weekends. Also, I can relate to your point of having another treat if I've already swayed from my good eating habits. Monday's usually the my day to regroup. But I feel that as long as I don't overdo it the system works for me. Although, regular exercise also plays a big part in balancing things out for me.
Kristi- you nailed it we use week to make up for weekends (which is ok for some) versus making progress if that's the goal. And Sam- maybe Sunday can be a regrouping day for you and all of us?
Thank you both for stopping by.
Excellent advice! Weekends have long been my achilles, especially when weekends line up with PMS, that is the worst! I have been being more mindful of weekends and – wouldn't you know it – have seen results. It's amazing how just 400 extra calories (or 800 – 1200 depending on your weekend…) can set you back and make it difficult to lose weight. Just a month of making an effort to not let weekends get out of control and I have dropped a couple LBS!
I don't eat any differently on a weekend, holiday, or vacation…well, maybe a vacation. I mean, I don't really indulge in sugar or anything but I do eat bread – which I should avoid in general. But aside from that my eating habits just don't change because I don't want to feel gross any day of the week!