|No More Weekend Weight Gain
Keeping a check on your food and drink intake this weekend could help you lose weight in the long term
Do you do all the right things – go to the gym Monday to Friday, take packed lunches to work and avoid sweet treats but still find you can't keep your weight in check? You may want to take a closer look at the way you spend your weekends.
Once the working week comes to an end, are you more likely to:
A/Order home-delivered dinners, and settle in for hours of TV viewing?
B/Whip up healthy, fast meals at home, take your dog for long walks and maintain your weeknight early-to-bed, early-to-rise sleep pattern?
C/Hit a restaurant with your co-workers and catches up with friends over long lunches and indulgent dinner?
If you answered mostly A and C, this may be the reason your scales are stuck or moving in the wrong direction. When all your healthy habits go out the window on the weekend, it can undo all the hard work you put in during the working week. In fact, weekend lifestyle choices, such as eating and drinking more compared to the rest of the week, may lead to an average weight gain of four kilos a year, claims a study from the Washington University School of Medicine.
Thankfully, these strategies from health, nutrition and motivational experts will help you avoid common weekend dietary traps while still allowing you to enjoy your downtime.
Did you know winding down at the end of each week with a glass of fizzy drink may add centimetres to your waistline? And if you enjoy high-energy snack foods with a glass of coke, this can add up to double trouble for your weight.
The Fix: The first thing to do is set yourself a limit, don't get into shouts where you'll be inclined to drink more, and always alternate your glass with something more hydrating, like water. Also, if you find it hard to resist fatty, salty snacks, eat a healthy snack such as yogurt and an apple before you go out. Or try eating your lunch later in the day as then you won't be too hungry when you reach the bar and be tempted to eat kilojoule-laden snacks and fast food.
A break in routine
One of the perks of having Saturday and Sunday off is enjoying a break from your weekday routine. The trouble is that, for many, weekends also signal a break from following healthy habits. Many of us have a diet-on/diet-off mentality where we're really good Monday to Friday but come Saturday and Sunday we stop exercising and eating well.
The Fix: You can enjoy a break in routine, such as sleeping in and occasionally meeting up with friends for brunch. However, you just need to be sensible about what you order and try to avoid skipping entire meals otherwise you'll end up overeating or choosing the wrong foods.
Exercise on a Saturday to ensure you don't do too much damage, in terms of kilos, over the weekend. If you're good but not great on the weekend, you will prevent that extra weight from creeping on.
At the end of a long week, you may feel that you've earned the weekend off from cooking. But if you always opt for takeaway meals, this may result in the need for a larger dress size. Those who eat fast food more than twice a week may gain an average of 4.5kg more weight over a 15-year period than those who eat fast food less than once a week, revealed an Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance report. Why? Fast food and restaurant meals are typically more energy dense and the portion sizes tend to be larger than meals prepared at home.
The Fix: Can't face cooking? Pick a super-fast, healthy meal and buy a BBQ chicken, a pre-packed bag of mixed salad leaves and wholegrain rolls from the supermarket. This meal is faster to prepare than waiting for a home delivery or standing in line for a takeaway, plus it's healthier and cheaper.
How many times have you found yourself frantically running errands on the weekend, only to realise it's lunchtime, you're famished and still have the grocery shopping to do? This can lead you into a diet danger zone overeating in the food court.
The Fix: Your ultimate secret weapon in avoiding a food court splurge is making sure you carry a portable snack in your handbag. Individual bags of raw nuts or fruit and nut mixes are durable options to help control hunger and are the right portion size. An apple is another option you should always carry in your bag, to help you avoid being tempted by food court treats and rows of chocolate bars. However, if you do decide to eat lunch at a food court, avoid meal deals as some can contain up to 5000kJ, and if a portion looks big – even a salad sandwich – share it.
Social occasions inevitably mean a smorgasbord of cheese, dips, chips, deep-fried treats and sweet desserts, all testing your willpower and giving you more opportunity to indulge.
The Fix: It's possible to enjoy social occasions without feeling like a party pooper by being kilojoule smart. When faced with a buffet, if you're aware of the kilojoule value of party foods, you'll be more conscious of what you need to steer clear of and what a healthier choice is. And to avoid overeating finger food, don't stand near the caterer's door where you will be tempted by the full plates of food that are coming out of the kitchen.
Out of habit, do you always watch a movie with a large popcorn, choc top and soft drink combo in hand? This may be doing some serious dietary damage. Just the large container of buttery, salty cinema popcorn alone packs a whopping 2260kJ. To burn this off you'd need to walk at a moderate pace for close to two-and-a-half hours!
The Fix: If you have to order something from the candy bar, be aware that you don't need the jumbo-sized box of popcorn. Choose the smallest size and share it. Better still, pack a portion-controlled bag of popcorn you popped at home. This way you can control the amount of popcorn you're eating and avoid the salt, butter, oil and extra kilojoules that cinema snacks contain.