In an ideal world, no one would have to work on Fridays – we would be a lot more productive in the week and Fridays would be the start of a standard 3 day weekend in which we could really relax and unwind. In modern life, Friday is a funny day at work. Lots of people take time off so the office is quieter but for big business Friday is a day just like any other, even though your mind and soul may thing otherwise. Friday is also the day that we like to let loose a little. There are often lunches and work drinks and the relief of simply making it through another tough week can be license enough to throw caution to the wind and eat and drink whatever we like. Luckily all we need to know is how we can balance a little fun with our food and drink choices so we do not throw an entire week of hard work out the window.
The Friday Rules
1. Let things go a little
One of the best things about keeping your diet and training strict for the most part of the week is that you then get a little more freedom come the weekend. Now while this does not mean letting things go off track completely it does mean that if you want to enjoy lunch out or a couple of drinks after work, it will not completely disrupt the progress you have made thus far. The trick here is to learn over time how to let things go a little. To learn the skills that will help you have 2 or 3 drinks instead of 10; to have one meal off for a special occasion, not 2-3 days of poor eating, to skip one training session not 2 weeks of training. For some of us, this is an easy skill to adopt and put into practice – in fact many of us have learnt how to do this from parents and mentors when we are small. For others, this skill is far more challenging and it takes constant effort to practice and reinforce until it becomes second nature.
At times there will be particularly special occasions in which you really let things go, but for most us, our Fridays are simply another day in our week in which we need to learn to manage our food and drinking behaviours so we can indeed have a good time but do not blow our calories out the window completely, simply because it is Friday.
2. Keep things on track until lunchtime
If you begin the day with banana bread, a muffin or a less than ideal breakfast, it is safe to say that things will go downhill food wise from there. Make it a priority to still enjoy a breakfast that contains some sort of protein, even on Fridays. While it may be something heavier such as lean bacon and egg sandwich, omelette or other store bought breakfast, concentrating on protein rich choices will help to keep your appetite under control throughout the morning. Alternatively, you may find that swapping your breakfast to a shake or other low calorie option is a good way to compensate if you know that you always enjoy lunch out on Fridays.
3. Enjoy lunch out
Whether it is a social occasion or office ritual, eating lunch out on a Friday is a weekly tradition and as is the case with any meal that you do not prepare for yourself, it all comes know to knowing what to choose from the menu. The good news about eating out, particularly in the city is that in general there are reasonably good options and the real issue is whether you choose these or not. As a general rule of thumb, anything fried, from noodles, fish, chips and fast food from chain style stores are never going to be great choices. They are generally lacking in nutrition, high in fat and easily over consumed thanks to their soft, sludgy nature.
If you simply look for options on a menu that contain protein – fish, chicken, steak, egg in some form, whether it be in a burger, stir fry, fish meal or wrap you will be on the right track. If you can also then add some sort of salad or vegetables to this, even better. While a steak sandwich or chicken schnitzel may be relatively high in fat compared to your regular lunch, at least these choices do contain a good source of protein and ideally salad or vegetables, unlike heavy pasta, risottos, fried fish and chips or pies which contain much fat but little other in the way of nutrition.
When it comes to long lunches, the same rules apply. Think seafood, vegetables and lean protein and you will not go wrong. Another trick is to have a small snack such as a protein shake or bar before you head out for a long lunch so you are not so hungry and are in a position to make better food choices.
4. Plan your afternoon
If Friday lunches are not your thing but afternoon drinks is where things seem to go off track making sure that you get your preparation right in the afternoon is crucial. Never, ever head out for a big night hungry – you will only drink too much and snack on high fat pub and bar food all evening. Sure factor in a lighter lunch of soup or salad if you know that you are likely to be overdoing things later but most importantly, schedule in a filling, appealing, protein rich snack and hour or two before you head out. Planning this into your day is the number one thing that you can do to make sure your Friday is not a complete write off.
5. Be smart at drinks
It is Friday afternoon; you have had a hard week and worked hard. Of course there is nothing wrong with letting off a little steam after work and enjoying a few drinks and relaxation times with your colleagues and family. Always have a clear idea in your mind before you head out of how many drinks you will plan to have. When you have made this decision before heading out, it is much easier to say no once you have reached your limit. Choose clear spirits with low calorie mixers over wine and beer as they contain fewer calories and look for snacks and bar food that are not fried.