Are you a victim of weekend overeating? The following 5 strategies can help you ditch the binge, guilt and extra weight.
So often I hear the story from clients and friends that weekday food choices are healthy and very controlled…..then Friday comes along – the weekend becomes a blur of poor food choices and
We live hectic lives, juggle family, stressful jobs, finances, exercise, kid’s sports, homework, study, the list is endless! So it is not surprising that we get to the weekend and turn to fast food and alcohol as a way of unwinding. However the Friday night often leads to a whole weekend of overeating, poor food choices and alcohol, and in no time this starts to become a habit. We may develop the mindset when we eat a piece of pizza, chocolate bar or have a drink saying to ourselves “who cares I’ve done it know, it’s all over I may as well go for it.” Then Monday comes around and it’s back on the diet bandwagon of sacrifice, starvation, training harder, detox and strict control around eating.
Overtime this kind of pattern begins to take its toll on the body. Overeating can make us feel uncomfortable, bloated, guilty and even angry at ourselves. Our weight fluctuates and can affect the goals we are striving for. We may skip our training session or walk because we feel sluggish and gross. The post binge starvation and strict dieting can play havoc on our metabolism and our emotional state. It is not surprising that our weight slowly starts to creep up and our health and energy levels begins to suffer.
So how can we break free of this vicious cycle? There are no special diets or interventions, quite simply it is about developing a healthier relationship with food and ourselves. The following are 5 strategies that you can put into place to help you break the weekend overindulging habit.
Strategy Number 1: Aim for “good enough” instead of “perfect”
Too often clients attempt to follow the “perfect” diet, adhering to strict meal plans counting calories and measuring intakes causing constant worry and obsession over what they are eating and a fear of failing. Will power can only last so long and often by the weekend it gives out and the binge begins. There are only two options- being perfect or crap! So the logic follows:
“We are going out to lunch and I won’t be able to get my portioned kale salad so I’ll have the burger and fries.”
If we take the need for perfection out of the picture then we become empowered to look at our options. Instead of a kale salad versus burgers and fries our new look may be:
“The burgers look delicious, I might have the burger and switch out the fries for a side salad.”
Aiming for “good enough” helps to keep health and fitness goals in mind but also allows for some flexibility in our food choices and what kind of mood we are in.
Following “good enough” in the long term is better than following “perfect” and quitting.
Strategy Number 2: Let go of strict food rules
- what you can and can’t eat,
- when you can or can’t eat it,
- how you can or can’t eat it, and/or
- how much you can or can’t have.
These food rules take up a lot of our mental time and create stress, they also set us up for failure and the “who cares” effect. For example a food rule may be no carbs, so bread, pasta and potatoes are avoided…then Friday night comes around and you are out with friends drinking beer and eating pizza. For the first part of the night you try hard not to indulge then eventually you give in and join in. “who cares, I’ve done it now, I’ve blown my diet” mentality creeps in and you begin to overeat.
The more food rules we have the more chances we have of messing up! Once you break your strict rules there are no guidelines to help you.
The solution: Let go of the strict rules and think like a non-dieter. They don’t diet, they listen to their body and stop eating when they are full no matter what day of the week it is. Consider letting go of your rules and start listening to your physical hunger and fullness cues.
Strategy Number 3: Give up “Cheat Days”
Weekdays are all about being faithful to our strict diet, then our chosen cheat day rolls around, our favourite day of the week! It is time to hook in to the treats and the foods that we’ve worked so hard to avoid all week. By the time evening comes around, reality hits, its back to the strict regime again tomorrow; being compliant and strict- so why not over indulge just that little bit more?
For some people cheat days do work and it gives them a mental and physical break from their regime and that is fine- if it is working than continue to do so, but for many people having the weekly cheat day makes the rest of the week food hell.
Cheat days set up the scarcity effect, making us feel anxious, needy and sometimes greedy rather than the opposite of scarcity – abundance. Food shouldn’t be hoarded or feared, it’s something that we should enjoy and be grateful for. If we take out the need to cheat, then there’s nothing to cheat for. If it’s Wednesday and you feel like some chocolate you can have it or sometimes you are full from dinner you don’t have to have any. What and when you eat is up to you and your hunger and fullness cues- it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is.
Strategy Number 4: Own your choices
Bartering with ourselves such as skipping something today to eat more on another day is the mindset that one good deed gives us the license to do something bad on another occasion. Mind games like this undermine our health goals and our authority over decision making.
The solution is to own your choices and let your values and principles guide you when you eat. You can make decisions and acknowledge the outcome. For example, if you plan to eat a large serve of ice-cream, know that it may make you feel a bit sick- own this and acknowledge that you will be ok and fine with it. Own your choices, don’t moralise them. Choose your behaviour remembering that different choices produce different outcomes.
Strategy Number 5: Stop rationalising
Weekends present all sorts of comfortable justifications for eating a bunch of non-nutritious foods.
It could be anything:
- You were busy. Or maybe you had nothing going on.
- You were traveling. Or maybe you were at home.
- You had to work. Or you had no work to do.
- You had family/social meals. Or maybe you ate alone.
Any excuse will do. You become a powerless victim of circumstance!
But busyness, boredom, travel, work, or family dinners don’t inherently cause overeating. People eat or drink too much in lots of different situations. Their explanation simply matches whatever happens to be going on at the time.
Rationalisations are a convenient script. They help us make sense of — and perpetuate — our overeating or other unhelpful behaviours.
Solution: Stop rationalising and ask yourself why am I really overeating?
Sometimes, you’ll want to eat crap. And too much of it. That’s normal.
But instead of falling back on the tired victim-of-circumstance narrative, take the opportunity to ask yourself what’s really going on.
Are you bored? Stressed? Sad? Happy?
Do this over and over and over, and you’ll start to see some patterns. That’s your opportunity to change overeating behaviour — and do something else to address those emotions instead of bingeing.
So where to from here?
- There is no “perfect time” to eat better. Not tomorrow; not on Monday.
- All we can do is our best with what we’ve got. Right here, right now.
- Ask yourself: What does weekend overeating do for you? What is it a path to? What does it enable you to get or feel? How does it solve a problem or have a purpose for you?
- aiming for “good enough” instead of “perfect”,
- letting go of your food rules,
- giving up the Cheat Days,
- owning your choices, and/or
- quitting the rationalisations
Use a clean slate approach: overeat? No problem, just wake up the next day and get back on track, don’t try to overcompensate.
If you need help to put this into action that is ok! Getting someone to help you be it a professional or a friend will help you stay on track and be accountable for your decisions. A professional can also have a look at what you are eating and make sure that you are eating the right foods and enough food so you don’t slip into the binge: starve cycle.
If you feel urgency or compulsion when you overeat, consider talking to your doctor or a trained professional about binge eating disorder.
If you would like more information on balancing your eating with your life than you can contact me for further assistance via www.delina.com.au
Or by phone on 0402309997
Yours in health and happiness
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