How many times have you gone through the week while sticking to your diet or nutrition plan, only for it to come crumbling down on the weekend? Ever had that “perfect” week of meal-prepped and planned food, only to binge and slip-up on the weekend?
You’re not alone!
This is something we’ve seen often when asking clients with a dieting history about their past experiences. We decided to sit down and talk about some of the most common reasons why people slip on the weekends, here they are:
It’s relatively easy to stay on track during the first few days of a calorie-restricted intake. The first week there’s excitement, you’re probably busy running around, staying mentally and physically stimulated and probably not noticing much hunger or pushing through the hunger with motivation. Unfortunately, both the increase in hunger and decrease in stimulation can leave us feeling extremely hungry, making it almost impossible to stay on track (especially in a healthy way). Once the weekend comes around, we usually don’t have the same level of stimulation and focus to push past the low calorie intake.
You don’t need drastic reduction in calories to promote weight loss. Too much reduction can work against you triggering even stronger hunger hormones and poor recovery amongst other things. If you find yourself going overboard on the weekend because of true hunger, you might be reducing your calorie intake too much during the week. There’s a difference between having a small intentional deficit for fat loss that promotes muscle retention and performance and a big deficit without thought of muscle loss or performance.
Eating too little calories, then bouncing back and over-consuming way too many on the weekends is pretty common. Think of it like a pendulum, the more you pull it back, the further it goes in the other direction once you let it go.
There’s a science to reducing calories and choosing the foods they come from and reducing the risk of unintentional overconsumption on the weekend.
The resources we use to get through daily activities need to be filled from all the daily drains that come with living in order to make intentional heathy changes. You might be:
Mentally drained – tired of making choices everyday, all day and not having energy to reason beyond initial food cravings that don’t serve you
Emotionally drained – wanting to cope emotions with food
Physically drained – too tired to prepare any food or do any meal prep
Making intentional healthy habits costs you mental, physical, and even emotional energy. If you’re already running on empty from other areas in your life, it’s going to be that much harder to stick to your plans. You can’t give energy you don’t have.
If you’re leading a life that feels mostly stressful, overwhelming, and without much down time, it’s likely that once the weekend comes your body is going to be more focused on filling you up with enough resources for the next week (or at least enough to barely get by) rather than expending more mental, emotional, and physical energy.
When you have a super packed schedule, it’s even more of a challenge to find ways to build in enough rest and recovery to prioritize whatever your goals are. This is where having a coach to examine and suggest ways to reduce unnecessary resource drainage can help.
This goes along well with the previous point. Maybe your plan fits perfectly with your workweek, but not so much for the weekend. You might not know how to tweak meals or snacks for challenges (like parties or celebrations) or other events that come up.
If your nutrition or diet plan doesn’t fit with your lifestyle, it’s not going to stick long enough to make any significant difference. A plan that makes you turn in a completely different direction from what you’re used to is going to catch up. You can only lead a double-life, inauthentic lifestyle for so long before it implodes. Or it could just be too strict for you at this time. It doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to follow a more structured plan, but it just might not be the best thing for you to do at this time. Maybe it’s perfect at the beginning or it might be generally doable, but might need coaching to help through those challenges. Your nutrition plan should stretch you, it can be challenging and grow you, but it doesn’t have to be so different that have to change every single thing about your food intake, food familiarity, and taste preferences. You don’t have to jump from step 1 to step 10 at one time. Enjoy the process and get stronger and consistent before moving to another goal.
We aren’t talking about calorie restriction here. We’re talking about restrictive by food choices. Food is not just fuel. It’s culture, mood (not just emotions but even what you’re in the mood for), and so much more. Eating the same foods over and over again might make you crave more exciting things on the weekend when they are within reach. The problem is that “moderation” is a tool, and not something everyone can do at first. It takes skill to know how to use moderation as a tool when it comes to fun foods.
If you are choosing to eat basic diet foods (chicken, rice, broccoli) all week, you’re taste buds are probably going to be screaming at you to get some flavor in your diet once the weekend comes. Some people choose to make their meals as simple as possible – we are all about simplicity – but it doesn’t have to boring. We recommend choosing about 2 different protein and major carb sources per week to reduce taste-bud burnout and still have some simplicity.
Along with that, it’s helpful if you can incorporate as many food tastes as you can in your meals to make it truly satisfying. Food should be satisfying! Incorporating a little umami (savory), salty, sour, bitter, and sweet tastes into a meal can help to make it even more satisfying.
*Bonus: if you always feel like you have a sweet tooth after meals, try to get ahead of it by incorporating something sweet into your meal to satisfy your sweet craving before it hits. Use cinnamon, ginger, honey mustard, etc.
Maybe you are getting enough calories throughout the week, you have enough margin in your life to recover any lost mental, physical, and emotional resources, your plan fits well with your goal and skills, you don’t feel like it’s restrictive, and you still consistently slip-up…it might simply be for lack of planning. You don’t have to have some fancy plan or even a plan written out on paper. Just some mental preparation at minimum is helpful.
How to stay on track!
Now that we’ve hit on the most common ways people slip up on the weekends, let’s chat about what you can do to make change for the better…
#1 Reflect on the above reasons why most people slip up on the weekend
Which one do you mostly struggle with? Is it a couple reasons? Maybe your struggle isn’t listed? You can’t move forward without knowing what is holding you back.
#2 Understand your resources
What can you do to refill physical, mental, and emotional resources to charge you back up? What can you do to protect them from draining so much, so that you can direct them towards your goals?
#3 Learn from perceived failures
You can always find something out about yourself to grow your self-efficacy (one’s belief in ability to succeed in specific situations or to accomplish a goal or task). We want to improve your self-efficacy, and reflection can help with that.
#4 Address you environment
Ultimately, we want you to be successful in any environment, but it can help so much especially in the beginning of giving focus and energy to changing nutrition-related habits by having a supportive environment. Whether we need to make tweaks to physical environment or social environment, it’s often the make-or-break in the beginning of anyone’s journey.
#5 Briefly Plan Out Your Weekend
Maybe you went shopping last Sunday for Monday-Friday meals and didn’t think about grabbing anything for the weekend. If this is you, here are a few ways to combat it and win the weekend.
- Choose a meal prep company to deliver (or pick up) a few meals on the weekend if you know you don’t have time or if you’d rather spend that time doing something else.
- Purchase a few meals or meal components you can freeze if you’re worried about food getting old by the weekend.
- Instead of doing a larger weekend meal prep for Monday-Friday, do a smaller one on Sunday for Monday-Thursday, and prep Friday-Sunday’s food on Thursday.
- Keep some already frozen meals in your freezer to have just is case you need them!
If none of the above suggestions help, do a little reflection and see which one of the other reasons might be the reason you struggle on the weekend. Without knowing, it won’t get addressed in a way that can take care of the problem long-term.
#6 Get Coaching
You can do anything on your own by piecing together the puzzle, researching, and trial and error, but it’s so much quicker and less of a headache if you get coaching to help guide, encourage, and support you. Click here to schedule a free 15 min strategy call, where we’ll ask a few questions to get to the reason why you’re struggling with consistency.
To get started on a plan that you don’t fall off – check out our Nutrition Coaching page, and you can scroll to the bottom for a free strategy call to make sure it’s a good fit.