June 27, 2023

Avoiding The Weekend Weight Gain Trap

Friday Margaritas…Ice cream on the Boardwalk…Backyard B-que feasts. 
Summer weekends at their best

We know all too well, how a diligent week of sensible eating and exercise can erupt in a raucous, calorie-fest weekend binge.

According to a study, published in the August 2003 issue of Obesity Research, Americans take in around 150 more calories per day on the weekend (defined as Friday through Sunday) than on the other days of the week. Since the calories tend to come in the form of alcohol and fat, this habit adds about 5 lbs a year to our girth. Yikes!

While this sounds grim, the solution to weekend weight gain doesn’t have to mean treats are off-limits. According to the experts, if we are more mindful of our habits and alternatives, we can be better equipped to avoid the Friday food frenzy.

Here are some tips to consider:

Tweak your activity mindset  
According to Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, “People tend to think of the weekend as their time to relax and recover from the hectic workweek. What they should consider is making an effort to become more active over the weekend days. Look for as many opportunities to move as possible – brisk walking, playing pickle ball, even gardening – instead of vegging out in front of the TV. This mindset will not only relax you and make you more energized and happier, you may offset the extra calories consumed. 

Treat your weekend meals like a buffet, not a smorgasbord. 
A buffet is a great way to sample a variety of foods, but it’s easy to overeat if you don’t pace yourself. A smorgasbord, on the other hand, is a free-for-all where you can eat as much as you want of whatever you want. A handful here and a swig there adds up quickly. Taming those in-between meal “smorgasbord” urges can put a big ole’ dent in that weekend weight gain trap. 

Hydrate Well
Sometimes, we mistake thirst for hunger. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This can also help prevent unnecessary snacking and overeating.

Be aware of sneaky sugary drinks. Since sugary drinks don’t make you feel full, it’s easy to discount them and over-serve yourself. In addition, they are empty calories, which slow metabolism and promote weight gain. Try sparkling water with a squeeze of citrus or homemade naturally-infused fruit water.

Homemade fruit-infused water is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

Master the art (gift) of mindful eating. Do you find yourself apologizing for eating so slowly, forcing friends to wait longer in between courses? Stop apologizing! They should be thanking YOU.

If you are a fast eater (like me), slow down and try practicing the art of mindful eating. Paying more attention to your food and the energy around you is a great way to avoid overeating since it helps you to recognize when you’re full. 

Mindful eating tips:
  • Consider the wider spectrum of the meal: where the food came from, how it was prepared, and who prepared it
  • Notice how the food looks, tastes, smells
  • Don’t use food as a coping mechanism. If you’re feeling stressed, bored, or lonely, it’s tempting to reach for food for comfort. Try finding other ways to cope with your emotions, like exercising, spending time with friends, or listening to music.

Savor the experience of dining out. Allow yourself to enjoy good food and savor it, rather than overindulge in it. People forget what the whole eating experience is about — sitting with friends, enjoying your time together, and relaxing.

Eat slowly. “It takes 15-20 minutes for your brain to signal your stomach that it’s full, so take your time,” says, Susan Moores, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic AssociationMoores explains. “Whether you’re at a party or eating out on the weekend, remember to slow down when you’re eating.”

Start your day out right. “Eat a healthy, protein-ladened breakfast on the weekend, when you have more time. You usually eat less during the day if you start with a healthy breakfast, and you get some good nutrition.”

Don’t go hungry to “save up” for a big dinner out. “Saving yourself backfires — you usually end up eating way more than you would have if you ate normally throughout the day,” says Moores. “Have a little bite to eat before you go out to take the edge off your hunger, and then simply enjoy good food when you go out.

“Start with a salad. Eating a salad before meals helps flatten blood glucose spikes and curb appetite.

Halve your restaurant entrees. “Splitting an entree with a friend is a great way to make a significant cut in calories on the weekend,” says Moores.

Don’t skip dessert; share it. “Make it special,” says Moores. “Choose something that is really delightful to you and split it with a friend. Keep an eye out for portion sizes, and if the dessert you want is huge, ask the waiter to slice it thin or split it with the table — but I’m all for dessert.”

Avoid overdoing it with alcohol. “If you can cut out one or two drinks per day on the weekend, that will save you 100 to 150-plus calories,” says Moores. And, she explains, people who drink more tend to eat more as well. So drink alcohol with caution, if at all.

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