Do you feel like you’re always on a diet, but never making progress? Chances are your weekends are to blame. Many people on nutrition programs start their week off well. They track their macros and prepare most, in not all, of their meals at home. But, by the time Friday night rolls around, they are ready to reward themselves for sticking to their meal plan and “celebrate.”
I was guilty of this. My typical weekend meal would consist of eating half of an appetizer, spinach and artichoke dip, followed by fiesta lime chicken, and topped off by sharing a chocolate chip cookie sundae. I knew my meal wasn’t “healthy” but I never researched the nutritional information...until now.
According to the restaurant's website, spinach and artichoke dip from Applebee's contains 830 total calories (490 from fat), 1,930 milligrams of sodium and 69 grams of carbohydrates. Fiesta lime chicken contains 1,310 total calories (690 from fat), 3,400 milligrams of sodium and 100 grams of carbohydrates.
Add in half of the chocolate chip cookie sundae (700 calories, 103 grams of carbohydrates and 70 grams of sugar – just for half!) and my meal equals 2,425 total calories and three days worth of my current allotment for carbohydrates. Talk about a cheat meal! Consider the rest of your weekend meals following this pattern and it’s easy to see where the extra pounds start to sneak up.
It’s frustrating to consistently make sacrifices, turn down delicious food at work lunches, exercise regularly, eat well; avoid soda, alcohol and sugary drinks, and still gain weight.
Identifying the problem is half the battle. Here are some tips for surviving the weekend, meal plan intact.
1. Do your research ahead of time. Most restaurants have nutritional information for their menus posted online. Even healthy looking choices like salads can be inundated with calories and sugar. Help yourself make a good choice by browsing the nutritional information ahead of time and walk into the restaurant with a plan that fits your goals.
2. Ask for a to-go box when your meal arrives. Correctly portion your servings according to your macros and put the remaining food in the box. Boxing up your “extras” ahead of time will help avoid mindless overeating.
3. Avoid letting a “cheat meal” become a binge or a cheat weekend. Perhaps it’s better to think of it as a “cheat item.” Have a drink, or your favorite main dish, or dessert – not all three. One small indulgence isn’t going to completely derail your progress, but multiple allowances will catch up with you quickly.
When the weekend approaches, continue to be mindful of your goals. Don’t let an hour of overindulgence counteract an entire week of hard work. Your discipline and sacrifices will pay off in the future if consistently prioritize what you want most over what you crave now. MS&F