How I stopped weekend overeatingMay 16, 2022
I used to overeat like a boss.
Sure, I was “good” all week.
But weekend overeating? That was my jam.
Every Friday around 5pm, my girlfriends and I would head to the bar for our end of the work treat - pizza, wings and booze!! It was a Friday ritual.
Friday night, when I got to eat whatever I wanted, was the highlight of my week.
I didn't really like my job, so to unwind on a Friday night with my girlfriends made it all bearable. I was also in a not-so-fun relationship that I just couldn't break free from. Eating on a Friday night kickstarted the much needed unwinding.
Friday became a gateway drug to the rest of the weekend.
I ate big breakfasts on Saturdays before I went to the gym, and big lunches afterwards. I went out on Saturday nights for drinks and a heavy meal. Or stayed home for more takeout and movies on the couch.
Then came Sunday brunches, of course. And picking up some of those amazing cookies at that little coffee shop on Sunday walks. And, naturally, you close weekends with a big Sunday roast… because it’s Sunday.
Because it’s Friday. Because it’s Saturday. Because it’s Sunday.
Which bled into: Because it’s Thursday night. Technically close enough to Friday. Friday-adjacent, and good enough.
In my head, the weekend was a time where “normal rules” didn’t apply. It was a time to relax, put my feet up, and let the soothing crunching and chewing take me away.
I’m not talking about compulsive bingeing here (that happened at other times). That’s where you have episodes of eating without thinking, almost like you’re on autopilot.
My Thursday to Sunday eating was the kind of overeating where you’re all-in: a convenient, stress-fueled, often social, habit.
My social circle was happy to support it. I had binge buddies and pizza pals. As far as I was concerned, going hog wild was just what people did on weekends.
Looking back, I also know that in the face of a job I didn't enjoy and a rotting relationship my overeating ritual made me feel sane and human.
After a while, though, weekend overeating started to suck.
As every overeater knows, the joy of runaway indulgence comes with consequences.
You feel physically uncomfortable, bloated, perhaps even sick to your stomach. Mentally, you feel crappy. Guilty. Regretful. Maybe angry at yourself. Or just angry in general.
And while weight fluctuation is inevitable when you’re trying to get in shape, if you want to stay healthy and fit, or make fitness and health a permanent part of your lifestyle, then weekend overeating can sabotage your goals.
Aside from the obvious extra body fat or stalled performance, there’s other unwanted stuff.
Like your joints hurt because of inflammation from last night’s junk food. Or you’re too full to exercise properly. Or you lie awake in bed with meat or sugar sweats, huffing in small breaths around the food-baby in your belly.
Yet the cycle can be hard to break.
I tried to get it under control.
I started cutting deals with myself, such as, if it’s “real food” then it’s okay to overeat. (Cue jars of almond butter, spinach pizzas, and all-you-can-eat sushi.)
During the week, I trained harder. Ate less. Tracked low and high calories in a spreadsheet. But every starvation attempt was inevitably followed by an even bigger blowout on the weekend.
The cycle continued; my health and fitness goals remained elusive.
Then I made a surprising discovery.
How did I finally break free of my weekend overeating cycle?
Maybe not how you think.
I didn’t use “one weird trick”, or biological manipulation, or reverse psychology.
With some help from a nutrition & lifestyle coach, I realized that my eating habits on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday weren’t the only challenge. There were some questionable weekday habits, too. Habits that were perhaps even more crucial to the whole picture.
Once I identified my work-week eating patterns, and how they were affecting my weekend behavior, I developed a healthier relationship with food… and myself.
Here are the 5 strategies that helped me turn things around.
Strategy #1: I let go of perfection
I’ve seen it in so many with my clients.
They want to follow the “perfect” diet.
So they adhere to strict meal plans (to the last measured teaspoon) Monday to Friday. And, the whole week, they worry incessantly about screwing things up.
By the weekend, though, the willpower gives out. They’re so sick of restrictive eating and can’t wait to eat food they actually enjoy. Bring on the weekend binge!
For most of them, there are only two options: perfect or crap. That is where I was too until I tried letting go of the all or nothing.
So the logic follows:
“It’s Saturday, I’m out to lunch with my family, and I can’t have my perfect pre-portioned kale salad like I usually do, so instead I’ll just overeat a giant bacon cheeseburger and a huge heap of fries.”
If you take “perfect” off the table, things change. You feel empowered because there are now other options. Instead of kale salad vs. five servings of fries, there’s:
“I’m actually in the mood for a salad with my burger because I had fries at that work lunch on Thursday.”
Therefore, my solution: Always aim for “good enough” and let go of perfection.
Throughout the work week and the weekend, I started to consider my health and fitness goals, what I was in the mood for, what was available, etc. I came up with a definition of “good enough”, and aimed for that.
Remember: The decent method you follow is better than the “perfect” one you quit.
Strategy #2: I let go of my food rules
If perfectionism is the Wicked Witch of overeating, then food rules are the flying monkeys.
Food rules tell you:
- what you can and can’t eat,
- when you can or can’t eat it,
- how you can or can’t eat it, and/or
- how much you can or can’t have.
These rules take up an awful lot of mental real estate. They also set you up for disinhibition… aka “the Screw It Effect”.
Here’s how the Screw It Effect works.
Let’s say your #1 food rule is Don’t Eat Carbs. No croutons on the salad; won’t touch a sandwich; no potatoes with your omelet. Thanks.
But this Friday night, you find yourself out with friends, and everyone’s having beer and pizza. You hold out for a bit. Finally, you give in and grab a slice.
That means screw it, you’ve “blown your diet”, so you might as well keep eating. Cue the binge and uncomfortable after effects.
Of course, if you have one food rule, you probably have several. That means there are lots of ways to “mess up” (and disinhibit). Maybe all night. Maybe all weekend.
Eating by the rules almost always leads to overeating crap, because once you deviate, there’s nothing left to guide you.
My solution: I ditched the rules and let hunger be my guide.
Non-dieters (or so-called “normal eaters”) eat when they’re physically hungry and stop when they’re physically full, no matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, morning or evening, work lunch or happy hour.
Start by paying attention to your own food rules and responses.
When, where, and how are you likely to say, “Screw it?” What might happen if you let go of that rule and really tuned in to your physical hunger and fullness cues instead?
Strategy #3: I gave up on “Cheat Days”
Monday through Saturday is all about being faithful to your diet. But Sunday… That’s Cheat Day.
Oh, Cheat Day. The happiest day of your week.
You wake up on Cheat Day morning like a kid at Christmas. Go hog wild all day long, eating all the stuff you didn’t permit yourself during the week.
As evening nears, you start to freak out. So you eat (and maybe drink) even more. Because tomorrow, it’s back to reality. Back to fidelity and compliance. And no fun.
Sure, some people find the idea of a weekly Cheat Day useful both mentally and physically. If this is you, and it works for you, then by all means continue.
But for most of the people I’ve coached, having one Cheat Day means the rest of the week is food purgatory.
My solution: I quit the Cheat Day routine, and gave myself permission to choose what I wanted all week long.
Like the Screw It Effect, Cheat Day depends on scarcity.
Scarcity makes us feel anxious, needy, and greedy. The counter to a scarcity mindset? Abundance.
For you and most people around you, food is abundant — not something to be hoarded or feared.
You don’t need to “cheat” because there’s nothing, and no one, to “cheat” on. Maybe you enjoy some dessert on a Tuesday night because you’re in the mood for it, or maybe you don’t because you’re satisfied from dinner.
What and when you eat is up to you — and your hunger and fullness cues. No matter what day of the week it is.
Strategy #4: I owned my choices (Really. Owned them.)
Do you ever barter with yourself? Make deals, trades or swaps related to food?
“Okay, self, I’ll turn down dessert today… but I’m gonna collect on the weekend and you better pony up the whole damn pie.”
In this mindset, one “good deed” gives you license to “sin” elsewhere. These trades rarely pay off — they usually just amount to a lot of mental gymnastics that help you avoid making tough decisions and help you justify overeating.
Look, we’re all adults here. Trading off “good” and “bad” is for little kids. There is no “good” and “bad”.
Mind games like this undermine your health goals — and your authority over your decisions.
My solution: I started owning my choices, and letting my adult values and deeper principles guide me when I sat down to eat.
I started making food decisions by acknowledging the outcome I would expect, based on my experience. For example:
“I’m choosing to eat this tub of ice cream on Saturday night. I’ll probably feel nauseated and anxious afterwards. In this instance, I’m fine with it.”
In the end, own your choices: Don’t moralize them. You’re free to eat and drink anything you want. You choose your behavior.
Just remember that different choices produce different outcomes.
It’s your call.
Strategy #5: I stopped rationalizing
Weekends present all sorts of comfortable justifications for eating a bunch of non-nutritious foods.
It could be anything:
- You were busy. Or maybe you had nothing going on.
- You were traveling. Or maybe you were at home.
- You had to work. Or you had no work to do.
- You had family/social meals. Or maybe you ate alone.
Any excuse will do. Powerless victim of circumstance!
But busyness, boredom, travel, work, or family dinners don’t inherently cause overeating. People eat or drink too much in lots of different situations. Their explanation simply matches whatever happens to be going on at the time.
Rationalizations are a convenient script. They help us make sense of — and perpetuate — our overeating or other unhelpful behaviors.
My solution: I stopped rationalizing and asked myself why I was really overeating.
Sometimes, you’ll want to eat crap. And too much of it. That’s normal.
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 to do now??
Pick up my 5 Ways to Drop a Pant Size which will highlight why you are eating and the steps to take to get you off the crazy diet roller coaster>>> https://www.vibrantlivingwithtanya.com/5%20Ways%20to%20Drop%20a%20Pant%20Size
I know, super boring – no quick fix or magic pill, but YES in fact, a magic pill without the glossy finish – will you take it??
I hope this different perspective wakes you up and gets you thinking. Take ACTION NOW.
I’m a wife and mum, personal trainer, fitness/pilates instructor, Behaviour Change Specialist, Nutrition Coach, Pain-Free Movement Specialist, author of Cookie Dough in the Dark, creator of Vibrant Living Membership - your ONE STOP shop for movement + nutrition + mindset, The Willis Method and PEEL THE ONION - Your End Emotional Eating membership..... among many other things!!
I’ve had many issues dealing with the scale going up and down, a muffin top that wouldn’t disappear, emotional eating binges that did not involve carrots and struggling with insecurity! Through all of this I just wanted to feel normal. I wanted to be happy like everyone else!
In my teens and 20’s I wanted the quick fixes, the magic pills, the fairy dust – whatever I could get my hands on to make me a lean, happy and sexy machine. Yup, found out it doesn’t exist. I wanted to cry!! I was so frustrated. I felt like I was going around and around until I was completely exhausted and back at the starting point. And when I talk with other women they feel that way too. So, I delved further into holistic health – the emotional, mental and physical – wrote a book, and have been in this field for many years helping countless women.
I discovered that by being smarter, not working harder, I could get the results I wanted and also for my clients. It started with some really small shifts that I will share with you over time. With this new knowledge, I felt ALIVE, VIBRANT and COMFORTABLE in my own skin. And my clients felt this way too!
My mission is to continue to help women step into the body they WANT. To feel confident & sexy, in control of their food choices and have their clothes fit just as they should while having the energy to live a VIBRANT life.
Ready to elevate your health? As a certified Behaviour Change & Nutrition Coach, I'd be happy to chat with you. Contact me at [email protected].
1) Download 👖5 Ways to Drop a Pant Size
2) Buy my book or just read the first chapter here
3) Book a call to discuss your next best steps when it comes to losing weight, click here
I look forward to seeing you inside the 5 day stronger to the core challenge
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