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Recently I was chatting with a friend who complained that she was looking to lose weight, but was frustrated that she couldn’t shake off any more pounds. She reported cutting portions and making healthier food choices and paying more attention to her appetite. For a moment, there seemed like little she could do to improve her habits—until she mentioned being careful during the week, but eating junk food with her boyfriend which he brought over on the weekend.
It’s easy to fall prey to this pattern. On work days, you may forced into a regular feeding schedule with limited food choices, whereas, on weekends, you have more free time at home and are surrounded by food. Or making your own food choices as a stay-home-alone parent on weekdays, you may be faced with a partner’s preferences on weekends. Even without kids, weekends generally include eating activities—dinners out, get-togethers, and parties—which may make it harder to eat “normally.”
Beyond these factors, how you eat is influenced by what you think. How many of you equate week day eating as needing to be “good,” and weekend eating as allowing you to let loose and be “bad”? C’mon, fess up, how many of you really think that way? The problem with this attitude is that you’re involved in self-defeating behavior on two levels. First, by restricting during the week, you may not be taking in sufficient calories and may be in a caloric-deficit by the time Saturday rolls around. Second, you may feel crankily deprived all week and look forward to breaking out of food restriction on Saturday and Sunday. And we all know where that leads.
If this description sounds a lot like having a diet mentality, you’re right. Any time you split your life so neatly into “good” and “bad” behaviors, you’re heading for trouble. So back to my friend’s dilemma about the food her boyfriend brought over on weekends. No wonder she wasn’t reaching her weight goals: all the pounds she took off during the week were coming back in spades on the weekend. And round and round we go. No wonder her frustration and sense of hopelessness was building.
“Normal” eaters don’t dramatically alter their eating between weekdays and weekends. Okay, maybe they cook a bit more or more richly on weekends or have special treats, but they don’t throw out their appetite rules because they’ve gone from on to off the clock. Be careful that you’re not falling into this weekday/weekend eating trap. When it comes to appetite and the rules of “normal” eating, all days are created equal.
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