Weekend Overeating (and booze) are Commonplace

I live in Austin, Texas – and let’s face it… everybody around me becomes a foodie monster and professional wine/spirits taster over the weekend. “It’s just what people do” right?

It certainly feels good to work hard all week and then just let go… at least until we get bloated, puffy and see our bodies morph into the state puff marshmellow man literally overnight. And that’s why I’d like to share a few strategies that can help ditch the habit of weekend overeating or boozing for good!

I’m a Weekend Over-Eater!

For real.

Yes, I train hard all week (1-1.5 hours of high intensity interval training). I eat pretty dang clean, drink water and get optimal rest and recovery.

But the weekend… I’m not so much Dr. Daniel any more, but Mr. Hyde.

Every Friday, around 5 PM, I start to think about what “take out” or restaurant we’re going to order from. I salivate at the thought of drinking wine, crunchy pizza or chewy tortillas mixed with all sorts of taco goodnoess.

Popcorn is my weakness. If I go the movies, forget about it. I’m done. Margaritas, fried pickels, loaded fries and bottomless popcorn. It’s a ritual.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a weekend over-eater because I’m stressed out. I’m not addicted to any food and I certainly know what is good and bad for my body. Like I said, it’s more of a ritual than anything else. Unwinding during the weekend is just something you do.

Friday Became “Fry-day” or “Fry-Yay!”

Over the years, I have mentally created a pattern or anchor as to what and how my I treat my body based on the “day of the week.”

Friday evenings were filled with take out and wine. Saturdays mornings have become “whatever I want to eat for breakfast” and it continued well into the night and even Sunday because…

Well let’s face it…

Sunday is the last day of the weekend so I’m going to go out with bang!

I know I’m not alone. I know that weekends are a time where “normal rules” don’t apply. It’s a time to relax, kick your feet up and let food and drink take you away.

Now, it’s important to realize that this is not an addiction or compulsive bingeing. Those food problems occur when you eat without thinking. People with binge or addictive eating disorders feel disassociated while overeating.

But for me.. it’s not that. This is a kink of overeating where you’re fully invested and all-in. This is a reward of having a beer after your “marathon run”. This is you eating your birthday cake on your birthday.

It’s convenient and a sort of social-habit.

And my social circle is completely happy to support it.

Eventually, “Fri-Yay” or Overeating Starts to Suck

As we all can imagine, the joy of haphazard weekend indulgences come with consequences.

Your face is visibly puffy the next morning. You’re uncomfortably bloated, maybe even a little sick to your stomach. And don’t even try doing anything that requires cognitive power because mentally, you’re just crappy. You have feelings of regret but push them aside.

What’s interesting is that while weight fluctuations throughout the week are inevitable; when you’re trying to stay in shape.. you want to stay healthy or fit…

Weekend overeating is a form of weekend sabotage. All goals out the window.

To someone who begins to see that they have a problem, they will try to break the cycle by making deals with themselves.

They will tell themselves… it’s okay, because my “junk food” is “real food”. So as long as you stick to “almond butter”, “whole food spinach pizzas” and “all you can eat sushi” you’re good right?

Or may you’ll say, I’ll just train harder, run faster or eat less during the week. I’ll track every single calorie during the week and the weekend will balance it all out.

This is the vicious cycle most Americans find themselves in.

How to Break the Cycle…

There’s no “secret” or “one trick” to break the cycle. There’s no diet plan, book or supplement that can biologically manipulate your brain into submission.

With some help from a nutrition coachmost people finally realize that the problem is not Friday, Saturday or Sunday. There are some unquestionable weekday habits as well.

Habits that are actually more crucial to the whole picture and even the decisions you make during the week.

What I can say is that once you identify your work-week eating patterns and how they affect your weekend behavior…

You can begin the process of developing a healther relationship with food… and yourself!

Here are 3 strategies that may help do it sooner:

Strategy #1 – Think “Good Enough” rather than “Perfect”

I’ve seen this problem with so many of my nutrition clients.

They usually start off with the idea that there’s some “perfect” diet they should be following.

This leads to crazy strict meal plans (where they even take a scale into a restaurant) that span Monday to Friday. Most people trying to eat healthier incessantly worry about their eating and/or screwing up their diet all week.

This is not healthy.

So when the weekend finally comes around… you’re willpower gas tank is empty. You’re so sick of restrictive eating or meal plans that you cannot wait to let go and eat the food that you actually enjoy.

And this is where a fork in the road occurs and you think: I either eat “Perfect” or “Like Crap”.

Here’s an example of this kind of logic:

“It’s Friday night, I’m having dinner with my family and since there’s no perfect pre portioned kale salad with chicken like I’d normally do, I’ll just order that huge giant bacon cheeseburger and fries.”

But if you take “Perfect” off the table, things change. Instead of choosing between a perfect salad and a gigantic burger, there’s…

“I’m going to have whatever salad they offer, plus I’m going to order a small burger; hold the fries please.”

So Strategy #1 is to aim for “Good Enough” and not “Perfect”.

In this case, the decent method you follow is always going to be better than the perfect one you’ll eventually quit.

Strategy #2: Let Go of Food Rules!

Food rules tell you:

  • What you can and can’t eat
  • When you can and can’t eat it
  • How you can or can’t eat it
  • How much you can or can’t have

Basically, these rules set you up for a huge payment from your willpower bank. In short, it eventually leads to “The F**K It Effect”.

For example, your #1 Food rule is Don’t Eat Carbs. So no croutonson your salad; cannot eat sandwhiches and no potatoes with your eggs. Great.

But this Friday night, you find yourself out with friends and everyone’s having beer and pizza. You hold out for a while, but eventually… especially after a beer, you grab a slice.

Now you’re experiencing full blown “F**K It Effect” and you might as well continue eating whatever the hell you want.

Of course, if you have one food rule, you probably have several. That means there are lots of ways that you can mess up. This is why eating by the rules almost always leads to overeating crap.

It’s human nature… once we deviate and go down a path that we believe is wrong, we’re okay continuing.

So ditch the bullshit food rules.

Having a healthy relationship with food is eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re physically full, regardless of the day of the week.

So the next time you a “F**K It” moment; stop and think about why you’re having that moment, is there a particular food rule that led to that moment and more importantly can you dial in on a physical hunger or fullness cue to help?

Strategy #3: Stop Rationalizing and Start Owning

Have you ever bartered with yourself? Do you make deals, trades or food swaps?

“I’m going to turn down dessert today… but I’m gonna eat the shit out of the pie over the weekend!”

In this mindset, we trade “a good deed” today for a “sin” tomorrow. It’s dumb. Eating is not a sin. There’s no trade off. You’re body is nourished or not nourished by what you put into it.

You need to own your decision. That’s it.

Start making food decisions by acknowledging the outcome.

“I’m going to eat this whole bowl of ice cream. I’m going to feel bad tomorrow about it; but I accept it. It is what it is.”

Remember, you choose your behavior. Our choices determine our outcomes. That’s all.

And this leads to the idea that we have to stop rationalizing over our food.

Sometimes, you’ll want to eat crap. And too much of it. That’s normal. And it’s okay.

But instead of falling back on the tired victim-of-circumstance narrative, take the opportunity to ask yourself what’s really going on.

Are you bored? Stressed? Sad? Happy?

Do this over and over and over, and you’ll start to see some patterns. That’s your pot of gold.

That’s your opportunity to change overeating behavior — and do something else to address those emotions instead of bingeing.

What Next?…

Realize that there is no perfect time to eat better. Not tomorrow; not on Monday. Life is always going to be a little nuts.

So keep reminding yourself that all you can do is your best with what you’ve got. Right here, right now.

Ask yourself: How’s that weekend overeating working out?

If you’re loving your Cheat Day, Friday junk-food bonanzas, or gut-punching Sunday brunches, and you’re happy with the results, keep doing it.

But if you’re conflicted, it could be time to investigate further.

Really try to figure out your motives.

Ask yourself: What does weekend overeating do for you? What is it a path to? What does it enable you to get or feel? How does it solve a problem or have a purpose for you?

In my case, weekend overeating was self-medication for stress, stimulation and novelty, and a way to connect with other people.

To rearrange your mindset and break the cycle of weekend overeating, try:

  • aiming for “good enough” instead of “perfect”,
  • letting go of your food rules
  • owning your choices, and/or not rationalizing

Apply the Precision Nutrition “clean slate” method.

The clean slate approach means that after any and every “screw-up”, you get to start fresh.

Overate Friday night? No problem, wake up Saturday morning and start again. Don’t try to compensate. Just get on with things as normal.

You don’t “pay back” the damage in the gym, nor do you kamikaze your way through a jar of peanut butter. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go back to doing your best.

Put someone else in control for a while.

Yes, you are the boss of you, and you should own your choices. But changing a deep-seated habit — even one that on the surface may seem silly and harmless, like overeating on the weekend — is challenging. Really challenging.

And just like weight loss, the process of changing your habits will have ups and downs. It helps to team up with someone who will support and encourage you.

Find a friend, a partner, a trainer, or a nutrition coach, who will listen to you and keep you accountable.

For many clients, relinquishing control is a choice they’re glad to own.