Whether it is the after work drinks on a Friday, the Sunday brunch or an all-day family get together, chances are that your weekends are filled with plenty of eating and drinking. Unfortunately a weekend of catch ups, socialising and partying can also lead to a few extra kg, kg that few of us want. So here are the key ways you can prevent weekend weight gain whilst still enjoying your precious down time.
Things tend to get out of hand on the weekend from a food perspective for several reasons. Firstly, after a working week full of regular exercise and relatively controlled eating, it is common for us to throw all of our diet rules out the window and eat what we want, when we want simply because it is the weekend. Next, weekends tend to lack the structure and routine the weekdays do which means that we simply eat when food crosses our path rather than following any specific plan or program. And then there are the many, many social occasions that are scheduled from Thursday night until Sunday evening which generally revolve around food and plenty of eating. Luckily a few tips to help guide your food decisions no matter where you may find yourself on your weekend is all you need to take control.
Café breakfasts are a lovely way to enjoy the start of a weekend day with friends and family, but heavy banana breads, Turkish toasts, large juices and jumbo coffees contain far too many calories for the average person. Instead focus on your protein rich options of eggs, ricotta, smoked salmon or even lean bacon and aim for just 1 slice of grain or sourdough toast to balance the calories. Remember your mantra of ‘no one needs a large coffee’ and keep the freshly baked goods to special occasions only. Order extra vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes to give your café breakie plenty of bulk and remember that you are unlikely to need to snack if your breakfast is much larger than it usually would be.
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 practice saying no to rounds and shouts so that drinking does not become a habit rather a decision. When you do want to have a few drinks, generally speaking clear spirits have fewer calories than cocktails and wine and always use low calorie mixers such as soda water or diet soft drink rather than full sugar soft drinks and juices.
Eating out is a regular weekend occurrence whether it is picking up a quick meal at a fast food place on the run, ordering pizza or enjoying a 3 course meal at a fine dining restaurant. The issue nutritionally is that the average fast food or restaurant meal will have at least 200 calories more than a meal you prepare for yourself at home simply because of the extra sauces, breads, oil and dressings and larger serving sizes. To avoid a potential calorie overload, 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 overeating simply because you are out. Training ourselves to not eat extra simply because we are ‘going out for dinner’ is a key way that you are able to enjoy eating out regularly without associated weight gain.
For many of us, it is not that we want to eat badly, but find ourselves in situations in which healthy, low calorie food options are simply not available. This is often the case at functions, cocktail events, BBQ’s and parties in which the only food options tend to be high fat canapés, chips, snack foods and fried party foods. In an ideal world, in every social situation healthy options would be available but until that time it is best to be prepared for the worst and have a contingency plan to deal with such events. First of all, never go to a social function hungry, grab a soup, protein snack or protein shake an hour or two before you arrive. Avoid all fried foods and practice saying no when trays of canapés and high fat snacks are offered. Seek out lean protein options such as chicken skewers or grilled seafood and salads where possible to fill your plate with and in the case of high calorie desserts and sweet treats, practice having a small taste or sharing a serve, rather than overeating simply because it is there.
Stick to routine
Aside from these tricks and tips for specific weekend eating occasions, another simple way of keeping your own weekend under control when it comes to your food intake is to follow as normal a food routine as possible and if you do have breakfast or lunch out, compensate with a light soup or salad the following meal. If you find that you have a number of heavier meals over the weekend, then have a lighter day or two of eating earlier in the week. We live in a world of constant calorie overloading and minimal activity and for this reason we cannot wipe out two entire days of the week if we want to maintain let alone lose weight, so identify your food rules and stick to them, even on the weekends.