News & Events

Fighting the weekend food battles

July 25, 2014

By Jennifer Fetterley, Registered Dietitian
Backus Hospital and Thames Valley Council for Community Action

It’s no secret that the people eat quite differently on the weekend as compared to their eating habits during the work week. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. We plan social gatherings on weekends, which present us with foods we wouldn’t normally eat — and opportunities to overindulge.
  2. Our schedules are not as rigid as they are during the week, so it can be more difficult to plan meals.
  3. We’re just glad to have survived a tough work week and want to reward ourselves.

It’s easy to see how these factors can work against our healthy eating efforts. However, understanding our challenges can help us overcome them. After all, knowing IS half the battle (at least according to GI Joe…).

So how can we plan for success in the face of our obstacles? Well in this case, we can look ahead to any parties or gatherings we have on our weekend schedules and either commit to having a healthy and satisfying meal before the event, or even better, if you can bring a healthy dish to pass, you and everyone else in attendance will be guaranteed to have at least one healthy choice among the typical party fare — not to mention a conversation-starter. People always ask me about any dish I bring to a party (I can’t figure out why…probably my profession), but it invariably leads to an interesting discussion. Who knows? You may inspire someone to make healthier choices in their life.

When it comes to scheduling, I am just as guilty as the next person, because I rarely have a set meal plan on weekends. I get around this by making sure that I cook enough during the week to have leftovers for the weekend. This strategy helps you to be ready for anything because you don’t need to worry about taking the time to prepare a meal. Simply pull out some leftover chili, lettuce, cheese and salsa and you’ve got a healthy meal in minutes.

Finally, we come to the issue of reward. We all need to feel rewarded for our efforts, and it’s so easy to tell ourselves that we deserve those cookies or chips because we made it through a hard work week. However, I encourage you to break the cycle of using food as a reward because it almost always comes full circle and ends up in guilt rather than satisfaction. Instead, treat yourself in a different way. Go to a movie, go on a nature hike, have a massage or simply take a long, hot bubble bath. If you take a moment to think about the things that make you feel good, I know you will come up with a list of ways to recharge your emotional batteries in no time. I guarantee you will feel more rewarded, and you won’t have that nagging, guilty feeling afterward.

Now, as a realist, I understand that despite our best laid plans we are all bound to overindulge now and then. And that’s not always a bad thing. Life wouldn’t be worth living if we were always perfectly regimented. So when you do go a little overboard, just let it go and move forward. No sense beating yourself up. The world does enough of that for us.

Good luck, Weekend Warriors!