The Weekend Diet Plan

Friday, October 26, 2007 - 3:21pm

By Donna Feldman, MS, RD

I used to work with a woman who had a pretty drastic diet strategy: She ate nothing all week and pigged out all weekend. Her weekend was one long food binge. It's not surprising that she never seemed to lose any weight. If your diet sounds like this, don't despair. There are plenty of tricks to help you avoid turning your weekend into a diet disaster.

Keep active all week - even weekends

If you faithfully hit the treadmill every weekday, you might see your weekend as a break from a boring routine. However, that should not translate to a break from exercise. For plenty of people, weekends are the time to get active. Hiking, biking, competitive sports, dancing, skiing, and many other activities are all fun choices for the weekend, when you have more time to spend on them. Social groups and clubs organized around such activities are everywhere. Whatever you do, do not spend weekends sitting on the couch.

Get enough sleep to avoid weekend overeating

Sleeping too little all week might contribute to weekend overeating. Recent research hints that sleep deprivation might cause metabolic changes that drive overeating. Study subjects who were sleep-deprived showed impaired appetite control and increased hunger.1 Glucose metabolism was also impaired, but everything returned to normal once the subjects caught up on sleep.2

Weekends: You deserve to splurge, but remain sensible

You might think of the weekend as the time to reward yourself for dieting all week. Balance treats with dieting common sense. Do not go into the weekend vowing to stick to a very restrictive diet. Plan to enjoy some special foods. Do not waste your calories on the same old burgers, fries, pizza, and chips. If you are meeting someone for coffee and dessert, order a low-fat latte and a great pastry. If you plan on dining out, eat smart early in the day, sticking to high-protein/high-fiber meals, like yogurt and fruit or salad with grilled chicken. When you learn to make these kinds of calorie trade-offs, you won't "have a case of the Monays," feeling guilty and bloated.

Avoid boredom and mindless eating at the weekend

Boredom and loneliness are two of the worst diet wreckers. If you have lots of time on your hands, you'll be set up to graze your way to calorie overload unless you have a plan. You can (and should) get out and enjoy activities by yourself like walking, biking, swimming, rollerblading, or a workout at the gym. Catch that yoga or pilates class you always meant to attend. Reward yourself with a massage or a soak in the Jacuzzi instead of a plate of cookies. Stock your kitchen and frigerator with non-guilt splurges like imported mineral water, interesting herbal teas and plenty of ready-to-grab veggies and fruit. If you crave ice cream, go out for a small single serving of fabulous gelato or hand-made ice cream instead of digging into that half gallon of cheap ice cream in your freezer.

Conclusion: weekends can still be fun whilst watching your weight

Weekends should be fun and relaxing. If you are watching your calories for weight control, ease up a little on weekends. Make it a habit to enjoy really special treats in small portions. Balance the treats with activities that burn calories. Trust me, you'll feel a whole lot better come Monday morning.

  1. Impact of sleep and sleep loss on metabolic function. Van Cauter, et al. Horm Res 2007;67 Suppl 1:2-9