9 Ways to Eat Healthier This Weekend
For many of us, the consistency of a weekday work schedule helps us stick with healthy meals. Once the weekend hits, though, the change in routine creates the opportunity for cravings to take over. As good as those appetizers and evening cocktails taste on Friday night, once Monday hits, you’ll be back to where you started when it comes to your health goals. According to a study conducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Saturdays are usually the worst day when it comes to overindulging.
A better option: Find ways to manage your weekend so that you can keep your food choices under control. If you follow these 9 strategies for better eating over the weekend, you won’t become a victim of your cravings and will continue to make progress towards your health goals.
1. Let Friday night set the tone.
When it comes to making decisions for healthy eating during the weekend, your behavior for the first 24 hours will set the tone for the rest of the time. This means that some extra intentionality about what you eat will go far towards ensuring you feel good when Monday comes.
Don’t assume this means you can’t live it up on Friday nights; some key switches can make all the difference in your dietary goals.
For instance, I recommend satisfying a pizza craving by making one with a cauliflower crust. You can also order your hamburger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun so that you get the boost of fats and protein without excess carbohydrates. If you decide to drink, choose a mixer that’s low in sugar, like club soda.
2. Make exercise a priority.
Working out often leads to better food choices, so carve out time this weekend to squeeze in some fitness. You’re more likely to exercise if you build structure into your day by planning it out in advance.
Half an hour is all you need if you use your time efficiently, so strive to fit in a workout between errands or take a brisk walk before your kids and spouse wake up. Need some extra motivation to get out the door? Invite along a friend for additional accountability.
3. Keep consistent with hydration.
With the hustle of the weekend, it’s all too easy to lose your water bottle in the shuffle and accidentally skip on sipping. However, weekend’s switch in routine is often the time when you are most at risk of dehydration.
It’s important to drink enough water, as dehydration leads to drowsiness, headaches, and high blood pressure. Thirst is often confused for hunger, so staying hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent unnecessary snacking.
I recommend that you aim to drink a liter by lunch to help your body metabolize salt and make it a goal to refill your water glass at least three times during dinner.
4. Fuel up with a booster snack.
Snacking isn’t always a smart idea, but a well-timed ‘booster snack’ is an excellent strategy for preventing yourself from overeating throughout the weekend. To ensure you aren’t eating more than you should, wait at least an hour and a half after a meal before reaching for something to nibble on.
If you choose to snack, stick with protein- or fiber-filled snacks like a single-serve pack of almonds, organic jerky or organic string cheese. Whole fresh fruit is always an excellent choice for staving off hunger, as are raw veggies (but skip the dip!).
5. Dress for success.
You dress for the job you want someday, so why not make your weekend wear fit your lifestyle goals as well? Spending the day in PJs with a stretchy waist can trigger an all-day bingefest, while suiting up in your favorite workout gear might be all the motivation you need to finally get to the gym.
6. Embrace sleep, not breakfast.
It’s practically impossible to overstate the importance of sleep, especially if you want to maintain a healthy weight.
But here’s a critical tip; you don’t need to “make up” a missed breakfast if you sleep in till 10 or 11 am. If you snooze you lose, I like to say, so savor that slow morning by forgoing food until you eat a healthy lunch a few hours later.
7. Steer clear of sweet and salty brunch traps.
Enjoying a late breakfast out with friends might be socially fulfilling, but without an eating strategy in place, you might find yourself taking in far more food than you intend to.
You should certainly feel a sense of accomplishment if you pass on the pancakes, but keep in mind that consuming salty foods can also lead to sugar cravings. Bloody Marys, olives, smoked salmon, and capers can quickly put your sodium levels over the recommended limit, so seek out low-sodium, high-protein foods instead.
I recommend ordering an eggs benedict with the sauce on the side, so you get the nutrition from poached eggs without too much salt.
Other brunch traps to watch out for: flavored oatmeal and yogurt parfaits. These dessert-like treats often contain shockingly high sugar levels, especially if you add in toppings like brown sugar and sweetened dried fruit.
8. Finish the weekend on a high note.
It’s all too easy to fall victim to the Sunday blues by sitting down with a big container of Ben & Jerry’s. No matter what your eating habits looked like over the weekend, decide to end things well on Sunday night. This will give you the motivation to start your workweek on the right foot.
My suggestion is to have a “reset” Sunday dinner to get your eating plan back on track. If you love convenience, skip out on the Chinese takeout (or at least order dishes steamed, not sautéed), and pop in an organic frozen meal instead. You can also take an hour to make a meal plan for the rest of the week to set you up for success.
9. Close the kitchen after Sunday dinner
After that last dish is washed on Sunday night, do yourself a favor by getting out of the kitchen. You’ll limit opportunities for late-night snacking if you physically close off the space and shut off the lights.
If a craving for sweets is overwhelming, stave it off with Sweet Defeat. These lozenges are formulated with gymnema extract, which bind to the sweet taste receptors on the tongue to suppress sweet flavors and curb cravings. I recommend trying Sweet Defeat if you want to refocus your mind and stop obsessing about dessert.
Don’t let a lack of routine derail you from your health goals this weekend. By following these tips, you can ensure you reach Monday feeling ready for anything.
Heather Bauer, a Registered Dietitian (RD) and New York State Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN), is the author of the best-selling books The Wall Street Diet and Bread is the Devil.