Are you trying to lose weight and wondering how to stop weekend overeating and binging? For many years during my 100 pound weight loss journey, I was stuck in the habit of following my food plan all week, only to outdo all my hard work when the weekend rolled around.
Sure, weekends are for relaxing and having fun, but I didn’t want to overeat to the point that I outdid all my hard work during the weekday. If this is you, here are the steps to take to make sure you enjoy your weekends, have some splurges, but still stay on track with your weight loss goals.
Why Do I Overeat on the Weekends?
If you are stuck in the cycling of eating well all week only to binge or overeat on the weekends, you might be frustrated with yourself, but keep in mind this is a pattern for many people.
The weekend is a more relaxed time when schedules are looser. The weekday gives a set structure with work hours, kids’ activities and structured workout events. On the weekend, many of us set aside time for working around the house, chores, errands, and simply relaxing.
Weekends might also include additional temptations like ordering pizza, parties, additional alcohol, or going out to eat.
Is it Okay to Have a Weekend Cheat Day?
As someone who has lost 100 pounds and been maintaining for years, I’m not a fan of the concept of cheat meals or cheat days.
First, the word “cheat” implies a diet that you go on and off, rather than changing habits for the long-term. Also, what I’ve seen in working with women through this site and the weight loss program I run, Faithful Finish Lines, is that it’s incredibly easy to out-eat a week’s worth of healthy choices in one day.
This keeps people stuck in a “diet all week cheat on weekends” spiral that will cause slower weight loss, plateaus, or even weight gain.
Alcohol and Weight Loss
Can you drink alcohol and lose weight? Of course. Life is for living even during weight loss. Just keep in mind that weight loss will be more difficult the more you drink.
Alcohol is high in calories but does not make you feel full like food. For example, a 12 ounce beer is 150-300 calories, a 5 ounce glass of wine is 130-160 calories, and distilled alcohol is about 100 calories for 1.5 ounces.
Many people drink much more than one serving at a time so the points or calories add up quickly.
Also, you might find that your sense of control around food goes down the more you drink. After a beer or two, that plate of nachos is calling your name. Give me a couple glasses of wine and the bread and butter with dinner and a slice of cheesecake seem like part of the experience. You can easily consume more than a day’s worth of extra calories with these indulgences.
If you want to have alcohol as part of your weekend, plan ahead so that you have the points set aside and be sure to stick to the proper serving size. Eat something before you indulge so you aren’t making decisions on an empty stomach.
I Broke a Plateau When I Stopped Weekend Overeating
During the last year, I broke a 15+ year weight loss plateau when I made a number of changes and one of them was learning to reign in my weekend overeating.
In the past, I had a habit of being “good” throughout the weekend and then blowing it on the weekends. Yes, even after I had lost 100 pounds, I was still stuck in a diet all week cheat on weekends mode.
Weekends started with pizza with my family on Friday nights (when I would have 3-4 huge slices plus bread sticks and maybe a dessert, too). Then Saturdays were running errands and grabbing fast food, and Sunday was for family dinners and snacking while I did meal prep for the week ahead.
If we had a special event like a family dinner, a birthday party, or going out to eat, keeping a handle on my calories was even more challenging. After all, it’s the weekend and weekends are for having fun.
I was listening to a podcast about weight loss when I had a light bulb moment. The speaker talked about how the weekend is almost 40% of your week. That’s close to half. She said you’ll never get a handle on your weight issues as long as you treat the weekend as different from the week.
I realized I had to make changes. I started planning out my weekends on Thursday night.
Yes, I allowed for some treats and indulgences, but no longer could I treat the weekend as a free-for-all, thinking I would eat basically what I wanted and then get back on track on Monday.
I also recognized that I was greatly underestimating what my weekends cost me in terms of points and calories.
Like most people, I tended to not track, or not track very well, when I was over my points. I broke my plateau when I made a commitment to myself that I would start honestly tracking every single day (including weekends) no matter how far I went over my points.
Finally, rather than simply getting back on track on Monday, I had to look at my weekend eating in order to learn from it so that I could do better. Slowly through my Christian weight loss process I’ve learned to offer myself grace, compassion, and forgiveness in order to approach these situations in a loving, honest way.
Weekend Binge Eating
If you are like many people, you eat less during the week and indulge when Friday and Saturday come. For many years I was a binge eater so I get it.
Binge eating can be a serious disorder so be sure to seek help if this is a regular pattern for you. (I went to therapy for weight loss before I was able to stop binge eating. Also keep in mind I am not a therapist and this post is not a substitute for medical advice.)
One of the things that helped me stop binge eating is not under-eating during the week. Keep reading for more on how to do this.
How to Stop Overeating on the Weekends
If you are struggling with how to stick to a diet on the weekends, here are the steps to take.
- View weekends as part of the week.
- Eat more during the week.
- Plan ahead.
1.View weekends as part of the week.
When you see your weekend as 40% of your week (that’s almost half!) you quickly realize that if you spend every single weekend over-indulging, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to get to your weight loss goals.
Whatever you do during week days to lose weight needs to continue on the weekends. If you keep a food log during the week, keep one on the weekends. If you eat tons of vegetables during the week, plan to eat lots of veggies on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Sure, you can allow for some weekend indulgences, especially if you save a few calories or points back for them, but the weekend can’t be a total free-for-all of eating or you’ll never make progress.
This weekend, keep an honest record of everything you eat. You might be amazed at the extra calories you consume.
Women in our Faithful Finish Lines program or our Facebook Christian Weight Loss group often tell us that they are eating 1,200 calories per day and not losing weight. What’s happening is that they are eating 1,200 calories per day during the week (when they are tracking) but massively overeating at night or on the weekends (when they are not tracking).
Because they aren’t tracking during the times they are “off their plan” they don’t realize that they are consuming 2,000-4,000 extra calories or more, which will out-do all their hard work during the week.
2. Eat more during the week.
This is going to sound counter-intuitive but please hear me out.
There can be a real danger in saving up points or calories for weekend splurging. I’m not totally against the practice, but if you do this proceed with caution.
For example, WW gives members 35 flex points that can be used any way you like during the week. Having that freedom can help you stick with the program because it gives flexibility and you know you can enjoy special occasions. You have points in the bank.
The trouble is that once you start indulging, it’s so easy to over-shoot your banked points or calories, which leads to stalled weight loss.
Use more calories or points for treats during the week. Have at least 3 treats during your week, like a couple squares of chocolate, a doughnut, or a slice of birthday cake at work. This might seem like you are “wasting” all your indulgence points, but the goal here is to learn to eat in a more moderate, consistent way all the time.
3. Plan ahead.
When does the weekend begin for you? For many of us it’s on Friday after work. The weekend happens every single week so don’t act like it’s a surprise.
On Thursday night, make it a habit to sit down and write or or track a general plan for your weekend. Set an alarm on your phone right now to remind you.
Will you be having wine on Friday? Brunch on Sunday? Whatever it is, plan for it early so you have the calories available. Once those are in place, plan your other meals and snacks accordingly.
You don’t have to plan out every single thing you will eat during the weekend, but the better job you do with pre-planning, the more successful you’ll be with weight loss.
Has weekend binge eating been stalling out your weight loss progress? By making these shifts, you will stop weekend overeating and see the scale consistently go down. While these changes might take some time, they will be worth it in the long run because you’ll feel better and be amazed at your weight loss progress.
Do you struggle with weekend binging or overeating? Share about it in the comments below.
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Sara is a writer, speaker, and 100+ pound weight loss success story. Her website The Holy Mess reaches millions of readers. At Faithful Finish Lines Christian weight loss program, she helps women lose weight and grow in faith with an impressive 36,000+ completing free weight loss challenges under her guidance to date. Click here to read Sara's amazing 100 pound weight loss story. Feel free to send Sara a message here.