Mindful eating at the weekends can be a challenge, there’s less structure, more going out to eat and sometimes more alcohol. It’s not unusual to get trapped in a cycle of eating Almost Perfectly during the week, then binging on the weekend.
Learn 8 tips for how to stop binging on the weekend in this post.
One of the things I used to do was to save up for splurges at the weekend. In my mind, this seemed like a healthy way to eat all the foods I loved, while still feeling like I was in control.
Well, that didn’t work out so great, because my weekends were essentially a giant Food Fest and I saw it as a way to overeat the foods I restricted in the week. During the week I was disconnected from what foods I enjoyed because they were ‘forbidden and at the weekends I felt terrible because my stomach was an overfull combination of wine, cheese, and bread. Of course, Monday came around again and then I felt even worse because I was hungry. It was a vicious circle.
Sound familiar? It’s a really common thing; it’s totally normal for weekend eating to look a little different from weekday eating. Things are more relaxed, so it makes sense that the types of foods and quantities might look a little different. Also, for many there’s often alcohol involved – I get that!
Whilst its a natural and understandable difference between weekday and weekend eating, it becomes an issue when the guilt/shame over weekend eating leads to intentional restriction the next week. It’s the diet pendulum swinging back and forth, the restriction leading to next weekends binge, and then the cycle starts all over again. We put a lot of energy trying to stop or compensate for our perceived overeating when in reality it’s the restriction that’s causing it.
A binge isn’t one biscuit or a square of chocolate, a binge eating a significant amount of food in a short time until you are uncomfortably full, and it’s accompanied by a sense of lack of control, and significant shame afterwards.
Eight things you can stop overeating at the weekend
Don’t start all over on Mondays.
Stop trying to compensate for the weekend. When you open your eyes on Monday morning it may be helpful to have some kind of plan of how you’ll feed yourself for the week, but that plan shouldn’t be in an attempt to undo what you ate over the weekend (or saving up for the next).
Eat some “Weekend Food” during the week.
What are the foods you find yourself binging on over the weekend? Try to intentionally incorporate these foods during the week. To help normalise them, plan them in as part of a typical meal. Try a couple of biscuits alongside your salad at lunchtime, if fries are your downfall, try roasting them with other veggies and a chicken breast, or maybe snack on some cheese crackers and almonds as a planned afternoon snack. It might feel scary, but planning them in during the week you’ll be reducing the likelihood of binging at the weekend, and probably eating them in a way that’s a lot more enjoyable.
Sleeping in later at the weekend, it’s really easy to skip breakfast. Try to eat something within about an hour of getting out of bed, whether it’s breakfast, brunch, or lunch.
Feed your body throughout the day
With unstructured weekends, you might find yourself going too long without eating. It doesn’t matter if under-eating is intentional or unintentional, an underfed body can trigger a binge. Meal/snack times may not fall at the same times they do during the week, but do try to eat something every 3-4 hours, whether it’s a meal or a snack.
Chill out after work on Friday
Food can be a way to relax, and that’s fine; but try scheduling a Friday night class, a post-work glass of wine with a friend, or take the dog for a walk.
Have food in the house
Do you run out of food at the weekend? Sometimes I plan for the week without thinking about the weekend. It’s helpful to make sure you have some foods available at home, even if it’s just leftovers, frozen meals or ingredients for a pantry meal.
Think about alcohol
Consider how alcohol plays a role at the weekend. I think it’s important to remember that while alcohol lowers inhibitions, if all foods were available to you all the time, you probably wouldn’t be binging when you had a glass of wine.
Having said that, a midnight wine-fuelled pizza isn’t necessarily because of restriction, it’s because it’s also delicious - and you’re probably hungry too. And another thing to remember, when you’ve had a drink or two, you’re probably not going to be aware of how much you’ve eaten.
Also, be aware that alcohol can affect you the next day. Alcohol decreases ghrelin, a hunger hormone, so when you wake the next morning you might feel pretty hungry. It also causes your blood sugar to drop and that’s why you get the starchy carb fixation.
Give yourself a BIG hug.
So, you were naughty and really binged and now you feel terrible about it all your hard work has gone down the drain. You know what, it’s OK! Remember, one day (or a weekend!) of eating is not going to make or break your health. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you did make a mistake, remember it’s a great learning opportunity too. Can you identify any restriction or other factors that led up to the binge? What could you do differently the next time?
After all that, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy yourself.