Overeating on the weekend?

That’s your jam.

You’ve had a long week, and it’s finally 5 PM on Friday night. You’re on your long commute back home from work and you start to salivate. The end of the work week means pizza, red wine, a giant bag of chips and bad movies. It’s your Friday ritual.

Sometimes you’re even looking up different menus at work, and the thought of coming home to finally, some good food is the only thing getting you through this brutal Friday.

What should I get on the pizza? Extra sausage? Should we get an extra side of garlic bread? No, cheese sticks!

Friday night, when you get to eat whatever you want, that’s the highlight of your week.

Your job is stressful. The commute is long. You come home every night and you’re right into mommy mode. So coming home, dumping your stuff, and crushing some fast food and a few extra glasses of wine is your way to unwind.

However…. It’s never JUST Friday night. And it’s never JUST pizza. You figure that if you’ve already ruined your “good week” with pizza and wine, might as well have the ice cream you’ve been craving all week too. One thing leads to another, and all those foods you’ve been trying so hard to cut out this week?

Yeah... they’re gone.

And that Friday becomes a gateway drug to the rest of the weekend.

Since you’re already off the wagon, might as well make the most of it, enjoy ALL the junk food you’ve been missing, and get back on track on Monday.

So you have a big brunch on Saturday. You go out to the restaurant on Saturday night for drinks and another heavy meal. Not to mention , you always leave the restaurant feeling overly full, kind of icky real, and in all honesty, physically uncomfortable. It’s like, you don’t know how eating when you’ve had enough.

Then comes Sunday, another big breakfast of course. And picking up some of those amazing doughnuts at that little coffee shop on your Sunday walk. And, naturally, you close weekends with a big Sunday roast… because it’s Sunday.

Because it’s Friday. Because it’s Saturday. Because it’s Sunday.

In your head, the weekend is a time where “normal rules” don’t apply. It’s a time to relax, put your feet up, and let yourself mindlessly go to town on a family-sized bag of Doritos chips. But you just end up feeling worse after, only not with big orange stains on the tip of your fingers.

You’re someone who’s either all-in, or all-out.

And as far as you’re concerned, this type of behaviour is just what people do on the weekends. It’s how you stay sane and human, given how restricted and deprived you feel Monday-Friday.

As every overeater knows (I feel you… I was one of them), the joy and instant gratification from running wild and indulging comes with consequences. A lot of them.

You feel physically uncomfortable, bloated, maybe even sick to your stomach. So much so that all you want to do is lay on your couch until the feeling goes away.

But what’s worse is how you feel emotionally. Mentally, you feel horrible. Guilty. Embarrassed. Regretful. Maybe even mad at yourself. And just frustrated in general.

You have these goals to get in better shape. You want to start eating better, and just living a healthier lifestyle, but you keep sabotaging your goals on the weekend and you don’t know how to stop it.

You know exactly why you’re stuck and not making progress, but you don’t know HOW to stop this habit.

And aside from the obvious yo-yo weight cycling and emotional baggage that comes with feeling out of control around food, there comes the aches and pains from your inflammation, or you’re too lethargic to do any fun activities with your kids, or you lie awake at night worrying about what will happen if you never learn how to make health a permanent part of your lifestyle?

You start thinking about your kids. Your grandkids. Not being able to run, hike, play with them. That’s not what you want for your future, yet the cycle seems so hard to break.

You’ve tried everything to get it under control. You’ve done the diets. You’re basically a pro-dieter now. The accountability groups like Weight Watchers. The personal trainers.

You start negotiating with yourself. You tell yourself that if you're eating “good” all week, then it’s okay to overeat.

You start eating less during the week. Tracking your calories. Cutting carbs. Working out more.

But every “good” attempt is inevitably followed by an even bigger blowout on the weekend.

And as this cycle continues, your health goals start to seem more and more impossible to reach.

You think YOU’RE the problem. Why is it that so many people can have the motivation and willpower to stick to their goals, but you always fall back to your old habits?

When will this cycle end?

One thing’s for sure ; this cycle of self-sabotage and guilt-tripping will only lead to more harm for your progress. Overeating on a weekend is becoming more and more normal to individuals who want to try to become fitter, more confident, and healthier.

Overeating on a weekend is a common concern for chronic dieters, and here are the root causes, making it more prevalent and harmful than it seems on the surface

  • You try to be “good” all week – From Monday to Friday, you’ve been suppressing and restricting your urges to eat foods that you truly enjoy. You’re not eating right and you’re limiting yourself to the boring meals you think you “should” be habit. Your restrictions lead to hyper awareness of those “off-limit” foods, thinking about them more, leading you to overeat on a weekend when you finally do allow yourself to have them. Keep in mind, the more you restrict yourself, the more you crave, and the harder you give in.

  • You’re not eating enough – Your body needs the energy to function. Food gives you energy. When you don’t eat enough food, your body lacks fuel. Similarly as gulping down an entire water bottle after being dehydrated for hours , overeating is your body’s way of telling you ; you’re not eating enough.

  • Self-sabotage mindset – Although there’s a common belief that self-sabotage comes from a fear of failure, it most often comes from a fear of success. For instance, what happens when you don’t have food as a way to temporarily escape or quiet your mind after a long week at work? Once you have to deal with uncomfortable feelings such as self-doubt, regret, disappointment or fear (because you’re not suppressing them with food). Or maybe, what will life look like when the “once I lose the weight, I will finally…” safety blanket that protects you from taking action on intimidating (but ultimately rewarding) opportunities? These are real psychological roadblocks that no diet will ever address.

  • You think that your actions balance things out – There’s a common misconception that having “cheat days or cheat meals” is an effective way to keep you on track, or some might even tout the benefits on your metabolism. This simply is not true. Consistently overeating on weekends will only do more harm to your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and overall mindset than giving yourself permission to eat what you want, when you want, all week long.

  • You lack a weekend schedule – It’s natural for weekends to look a little different from the rest of your week. You’re off work, you’re enjoying time doing different activities. But having some kind of structure to your weekend, whilst still allowing for social freedom, will help regulate your eating habits and leave you feeling better on Sunday nights, instead of dreading another week ahead.

  • You just want to feel normal – Dieting sucks! There’s no secret to it. When you’re constantly feeling left out, having to cook separate meals, watching people around you eat amazing food without having to micromanage every single bite as you do, it’s human nature to want a break. Willpower is a depleting resource that only gets weaker over time. A reliance on willpower to change your lifestyle will backfire 100% of the time.

What to do next? Some tips from a holistic health coach.

Always remember, your lifestyle should not feel like something that you should cheat on. It should not restrict you. It should make you feel more free. A diet is not a solution to self-sabotage thoughts and feelings. It’s not a solution to deep-rooted habits that have been hard-wired into your brain.

Your strategy should liberate you from mindset blocks, not amplify them.

And there is no “perfect time” to get better. Not tomorrow, not on monday. Life is always a little nuts.

Ask yourself: what does weekend overeating do for you? And what’s causing it? What is it a path to? What does it enable you to get or feel? How does it solve a problem or have a purpose for you?

In my case, weekend overeating was a way to make up for the lack of connection, lack of joy, lack of proper enjoyment from being “good” all week.

It was self-medication for stress and an escape from emotions I was too scared to face.

To rearrange your mindset and break the cycle of weekend overeating, try:

  1. Letting go of food rules during the week, of what you “should” or “shouldn't be eating. Let go of “good” and “bad” food labels altogether.
  2. Give your body enough food during the week. Quit judging your hunger or trying to distract from it. That won’t work.
  3. Reach out for help to work on your mindset. Self-sabotaging thoughts can be one of your biggest roadblocks to making lasting, permanent change. (remember, success is 80% mindset, 20% tactics and strategies)
  4. Eat consistently and allow for treats even during the week, giving up the idea of “cheat meals” or “cheat days”.
  5. Create a weekend routine to reintroduce structure
  6. Let go of dieting, it’s doing you more harm than good

Changing deep-seated habits - even when you’re aware of them and feel like intellectually, you know what you should be doing - is challenging. Really challenging.

The process will have its ups and downs. It can be incredibly helpful to find a professional coach who will support you with the right tools & keep you on the right track when you find yourself veering. For many clients, getting help is a choice they’re glad to own.

PS: The absolute BEST way to start letting go of rules, guilt and constant food thoughts is to become a master mindful eater. Mindful eating has been shown to reduce binge-eating, overeating, emotional eating and overall improve your relationship with food. If you'd like to get started on your mindful eating journey, you can now sign up for my FREE 7-Day Mindful Eating Challenge!