Weekend-Proof Your Diet

From Fitness Magazine

Finally, the weekend. “After watching what you eat all week, it’s natural to want to indulge a little,” says Judith S. Beck, Ph.D., author of The Beck Diet Solution. The problem is that once you loosen the reins, it’s easy to lose control and end up bingeing.

“Eventually the yo-yoing can screw up your metabolism and make it even harder to drop pounds,” says Joanne Lichten, Ph.D., R.D.N., author of Dr. Jo’s No Big Deal Diet. To keep that from happening, try these stay-strong strategies to help you make it to Monday with your diet intact.

Friday: Happy hour after work

You’re in the mood to unwind, but the more you drink, the more you munch. 

Don’t order your usual. You’re more likely to have a second round when you’re drinking your fave. Instead, order something you’ll nurse over the course of the evening.

Go solo. Rather than sharing a pitcher, order by the glass. “That way you can’t lose sight of how much you’re downing because someone is constantly topping you off,” says Evelyn Tribole, R.D., co-author of Intuitive Eating.

Cover up the snacks. If you seem to be magnetically drawn to that bowl of spicy nuts, drape a napkin over it. Even if you end up sneaking a few bites, you’ll nibble 40 percent less, according to a recent study.

Friday: Dinner out with girlfriends

“Research shows that women eat similarly when they’re together, possibly as a way of relating to each other,” says Sarah-Jeanne Salvy, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. So if your posse is chowing down, chances are you will, too.

Find a designated dieter. “Having just one fellow calorie-conscious person can really help you stay the course,” Salvy notes. “Sit next to each other for extra support.”

Lead the charge. To avoid being swayed by someone’s pasta Alfredo calorie bomb, be the first to order. 

Cut yourself off. Once your entree arrives, switch to a nonalcoholic beverage while you eat.

Saturday: Doing chores at home

“When you’re home, your day has less structure and it’s a quick trip to the kitchen,” Beck says.

Serve here, eat there. Put your snack on a plate and take it to another room. Having to get up and walk to the kitchen to get more food interrupts mindless eating, says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab.

Snack smarter. Adding a bit of healthy fat to your favorite nosh will fill you up faster. Partial to pretzels? Eat a handful with a dollop of hummus or peanut butter, advises Marissa Lippert, R.D., author of The Cheater’s Diet.

Saturday: A friend’s dinner party

Being a dinner guest can challenge your diet. “Not only do you have zero control over the menu, but some hosts are offended when you turn down the food they offer,” Beck says.

Don’t arrive ravenous. It’s tempting to skip lunch in anticipation of a big meal, “But that will lead to overeating, especially if dinner is served later than you expect,” Tribole says. Instead, stick to your regular lunch and afternoon snack.

Stake out the salad bowl. Whatever the entree, most hosts also serve cooked vegetables or salad. Fill the majority of your plate with leafy greens.

Fend off food pushers. Sometimes saying “No thanks” isn’t enough to stop an insistent host. Instead, “Tell her that you can’t possibly have another bite, but if she is offering leftovers, you would love to take some home,” Tribole suggests.

Sunday: Big blowout brunch

During the week, breakfast is typically fast and healthy, but a weekend brunch is filled with decadent menu options.

Think of it as lunch. Don’t let brunch be your first bite of the day. Instead, rise and reach for a slow-to-digest, lighter meal, like nonfat Greek yogurt sprinkled with berries and sliced almonds.

Share the special stuff. If you’ve been waiting all week for those chocolate chip pancakes, don’t deny yourself. “Order a plate for the table and something more satisfying for yourself,” Lippert suggests. “A few indulgent bites will take care of your craving.”

Don’t linger. Part of the reason you eat more with a group is that you’re sitting at the table longer, Wansink says. If the gang isn’t ready to leave after everyone has stopped eating, suggest going for a walk or moving outside to a nearby bench.

Sunday: Evening scramble

The end-of-weekend rush is often when you feel like giving up on your diet. Don’t.

Seek heat. You can’t scarf down something piping hot, so opt for a snack like steamed edamame, or drink some tea or sugar-free cocoa.

Hit the sack. Sometimes people eat in response to exhaustion. Consider calling it a night and waking up early to finish whatever you have left to do.

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