Surviving the weekend

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With a recent survey from the UK finding that people can consume up to 10 000 calories over the weekend, thanks to late night snacking, eating out and binge drinking, it seems like a pretty good time to talk about preventing weekend weight gain. It seems for many of us, a week of relatively well controlled eating is quickly replaced with overeating and over drinking come Fridays at 4pm. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the weekend with plenty of good food, wine and company, a weekly ritual of consuming many, many more calories than anyone needs, simply because it is the weekend is a habit that needs to be broken.

It appears that we get things wrong on weekends due to three main factors; too much alcohol, high calorie meals eaten away from the home along with extra snacking whilst socialising, watching TV or travelling. These extra calories, combined with far less activity mean that you can easily gain a kg or two, just in a couple of days which can render the effort you have put into your diet and training during the week pointless.  So, if your goal is to avoid weekend weight gain, and at least keep your weight stable, here are the key things you need to do.

First and foremost, remember that if you are eating meals away from the home, you will consume at least 300-500 extra calories. Large serving sizes, extra coffees, sauces and oils mean a calorie overload, even if you are making ‘healthy’ choices from the menu. Now knowing this does not mean that you have to forgo dining out altogether but it may mean some simple behavioural changes can go a long way in helping to control your calorie intake. Firstly, have a substantial protein or vegetable based snack an hour or two before you venture out so you do not put a food order in while you are starving. Share meals where possible, especially dessert as portion sizes tend to be large and again try and avoid giving yourself permission to eat foods you never usually would simply because you are eating out. Most importantly, if you eat out more than once over the weekend, learn the art of compensation. This means that for every meal you eat out, you need to factor in a lighter meal or at least some extra exercise to compensate.

When it comes to the alcohol, self-control is the key. A highly controlled intake of wine and beer during the week is pointless if you then down 2-3 bottles of wine or  10-15 beers in a sitting over the weekend. Try and shift this binge drinking mentality to a more moderate approach in which you can enjoy a few alcoholic drinks without feeling the need to drink for the sake of it. Be mindful of spending time socially with people who encourage binge drinking and if you can limit heavier drinking occasions to just once or twice each week. Alcohol tends to be a habit rather than an enjoyable addition to life and for this reason can be managed. And, at the end of the day, you are likely to have just as much fun after 3-4 drinks than after 8-10 drinks, and also wake up feeling a lot better the next day.

Finally but perhaps most importantly, a key aspect of not letting your weekends become a complete calorie overload is to keep your basic food rules at the forefront of your mind. If you never usually eat potato chips, lollies or fast food, avoid allowing yourself too simply because it is the weekend. We live in a world in which food is readily available, relatively cheaply, all the time. We socialise over food and generally eat too much on a daily basis and this this means that we do not need to further reward ourselves just because it is the weekend.




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