Good evening! :)

It is snowing hard and heavy here in Pittsburgh, and I can’t help but wish I was still in school so it would be cancelled tomorrow. Wasn’t that the best? :)

Yesterday when I was at the Red Lobster event, we were talking about restaurant menu trends over the years. While there have been many menu trends over the years (think low-carb), the steadiest trend has been comfort food. For years, heavy, comforting, well-known dishes were the main focus of most menus. Research still shows that these dishes are commonly ordered across the board.

What kind of meal do you eat when you go out to a restaurant?

Growing up, we didn’t eat out very much. It was a very special occasion and an exciting treat if we did. My mom cooked every night, and we never complained because it was always delicious and usually healthy. These days, I still think of eating out as a treat. Since I enjoy cooking at home, my hubby and I rarely go out to dinner. When we do, we want an exciting, memorable meal.

It has me thinking that most people go out to restaurants with the intention of splurging. When it comes to the weekend, people want to kick back, enjoy themselves, and not worry about what they eat or drink. My husband and I usually eat how we normally do: choose something we enjoy and eat until we are full. However, this also sometimes includes cocktails, appetizers, and dessert.

I have always struggled with healthy eating on the weekends. Since I am most productive when I am on a schedule, the weekends can get tricky. With my love for food, I would find myself aimlessy munching on my downtime on the weekends, and eating out more often without choosing healthy dishes.

I soon realized that the weekends were not going away anytime soon, and eating junk food Friday-Sunday was sabotaging my healthy lifestyle. The biggest realization? With the weekend consisting of 3 full days (at least in my mind), I was making unwise choices almost 50% of the time!

To put it in perspective: 12 days out of a 31 day month, and almost 5-6 months out of every year.

I knew things needed to change unless I wanted to love a yo-yo lifestyle.

Here is what I found to work:

Don’t deprive myself during the week. The more restrictive my food intake is, the more I want to rebel and binge, especially if I am more relaxed. I make sure to eat what I want, when I want during the week, within reason. I always allow myself to have some form of dessert or sweet treat so I don’t feel deprived. I also try to cook more intricate meals during the week when I have the time – it makes restaurant meals seem less appealing.

Keep snacking. Since I am not awake on the weekends as long as I am on weekdays, sometimes my snacks go by the wayside. When it came time for a meal, I would be ravenous and usually would end up overeating – even if it wasn’t something I loved. Sticking to my schedule, having snacks and more frequent meals has helped me maintain my healthy habits.

Drink up. Again, since I’m not on a schedule, my water intake used to be much lower on the weekends. I quickly realized that this was leading to dehydration, which was causing me to think I was hungry when I really was just thirsty. Plus, it also makes me feel 100 times better.

Plan further ahead. Every Sunday, I used to plan our meals out for the following week, with the last day being Friday. This usually left Friday night – Sunday evening as a crapshoot, with us eating leftovers, munching mindlessly on snacks, and overindulging out at restaurants. These days, I plan some meals for the weekends, too. Mostly, I cook larger portions of our healthy dinners during the week, and we have a shmorgasboard on the weekend. I also make sure to have enough fruit and yogurt on hand. I would include veggies here, too, if I liked them.

Eat a fun breakfast. Growing up, my dad always made pancakes on the weekends. They were a fabulous treat. I still like to eat something ‘fun’ on the weekends – something that I don’t take the time to make during the busier weekdays. These days, we choose a healthier treat – egg white french toast with high fiber bread, whole wheat pancakes, or omelets and toast. I am really dying to make the banana cream pancakes from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan next. Anyone had them?

1/2 the recipe. I do most of my baking on the weekends, but I rarely make an entire recipe. I usually halve, or sometimes even quarter a recipe so we aren’t tempted to eat treats all day long. I also give some away to friends and family. It works out perfectly – we get a taste, and so do our loved ones!

Make it count. Sometimes there are obligations on the weekends that we just can’t ignore. If it is a birthday party or a get-together at a restaurant that I don’t find very special, I choose a lighter dish. I would rather get something I love from one of our favorite restaurants – like The Capitol Grille!

Making some of these changes completely changed my life for the better. Many of us are ‘all-or-nothing’, and I totally used to be that way. I never thought I could be different, but I have slowly learned. Life has been so much more enjoyable since my mindset changed. Some of these include work and planning ahead, but in order to be successful, we must plan ahead. It is all worth it.

Are you an all or nothing type of person? Do your healthy behaviors change on the weekends?

While I have always had a healthy relationship with food, I have had weight struggles just like everyone else, too. It is the driving reason that I became a personal trainer and what began my passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle to me means living a life I can maintain, be proud about, and feel good about, all while enjoying myself to the fullest.

It means so much to me that you take the time to read each day. Opening myself up has been exhilarating and cleansing. I am so appreciative to you. <3

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42 Responses to “Avoiding the Weekend Weight Gain.”

  1. #
    Nicci — January 7, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

    I love starting Saturdays off with a yummy breakfast pf pancakes topped with fruit!


  2. #
    Estela @ Weekly Bite — January 7, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

    Great post Jessica! I remember I used to view weekends as a “free for all” of food! We’re not big breakfast people, so I prefer to eat healthier during the day and take time to prepare a fun dinner :)


  3. #
    April — January 7, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

    I love blogging too…it’s like therapy.

    I always ordered a salad and sometimes even tote my own chicken. I have bad problems with salt :D


  4. #
    homecookedem — January 7, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

    Such a well written post! And I can totally relate!! I always have a hard time with weekends. It’s definitely the lack of a schedule and the desire to kick back. It’s also emotional eating – relief that I’m home and letting go of the stress from the work week. AND, I totally agree that the more I restrict during the week, the worse I am on the weekends. Your tips were spot on. Thanks for posting this – especially right before the weekend! Perfect timing!! :)


  5. #
    Jolene ( — January 7, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

    I wouldn’t say I am all or nothing … I eat what I am craving in reasonable portions. I sometimes avoid something that is really high in calories if I fill like I won’t miss it that day – and then splurge on something I can’t live without another day.


  6. #
    Nicole — January 7, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

    seriously, i agree with every single thing you said. I need to be better about drinking water on the weekends. I am just so much better when I have to go to work and drink water (almost) all day.


  7. #
    Heather @ The Joyful Kitchen — January 7, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

    i’ve actually not done a lot of eating out, but when we do go out my husband and I usually split something. it’s nice, automatic portion control AND cheaper :)

    We’re headed out to the mountains this weekend for some skiing, so send healthful-eating thoughts our way :)


  8. #
    Jamie — January 7, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

    Love this post! And I really like the plan farther ahead idea…I need to do that!


  9. #
    heather — January 7, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

    this is such a BRILLIANT and informative post! I LOVED IT! such great points! (weekends = 156 days a year! must take better care of self on weekends!)


  10. #
    Erica @ somesugarandspice — January 7, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

    Oh my gosh i hear you girly. I was just thinking that I totally wished that i was still in college so that I could have a snowday. But it’s not like I have anything to do here I still haven’t found a job in Pittsburgh. I also agree with you that I have such a problem on the weekends. Even though I am jobless and frantically trying to find a job come the weekend I just go nuts when it comes to eating. Hopefully somethings will change for me. Good luck on your weekends!


  11. #
    Jennifer — January 7, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that this is a great post that I really enjoyed reading. Your comments are very insightful!


  12. #
    Low — January 7, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    Great tips! When I’m at a restaurant I tend to order big, unhealthy salads. Sometimes I try to healthify them and sometimes I don’t. I just love a big ol salad I didn’t have to prepare.

    I definitely eat differently during the weekends, because I have more time to cook at home, but not necessarily in a bad way.


  13. #
    kay (eating machine) — January 7, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

    i hate going out to eat cause we don’t feel like making dinner… that usually means we’re not going out for fun, and we’re hungry so we’ll go to the first place we think of… i like when going out to eat is a treat, not a lazy meal


  14. #
    Good Taste. Healthy Me — January 7, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

    Snow days were the best! Now we’re stuck going to work no matter what! haha.
    My family was the opposite when I was younger. We went out to eat ALOT. Now that I have my own household, I rarely go out to eat and prefer to cook good meals at home. Eating out a lot is not very healthy and it’s very difficult to make the right choices (esp if you’re like me and have no willpower! ;)).
    This was a great post! So many people have a hard time once the weekend comes. Your tips were so helpful!


  15. #
    Stef — January 7, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

    great point about avoiding the yo-yo lifestyle, moderation is key!


  16. #
    Shelley — January 7, 2010 @ 9:47 pm

    these are some really good tips. my dad made pancakes on the weekends as a treat too :-D


  17. #
    Julie @savvyeats — January 7, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

    Great, well-written post, dear! I’m all about balance throughout the week. Why deprive yourself Monday-Thursday so that you can overindulge on the weekend?


  18. #
    Linda — January 7, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

    Weekends are when I have time to try a more time consuming menu. Also when I prefer to shop so I think I eat better on the weekends. On weekdays I’m rushed and make poorer choices.


  19. #
    Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) — January 7, 2010 @ 11:32 pm

    short comment but i always 1/2 the recipe too.
    i mean, who needs a whole cake, 24 muffins, etc. when half, 12, etc will more than do. unbaking/raw baking is great b/c you can always scale back SO easily! and by the time you’re sick of it, it’s gone anyway and onto the next great creation!
    great tips!


  20. #
    Naomi (onefitfoodie) — January 8, 2010 @ 3:58 am

    i totally agree with you in that some people go out on the weekends and throw aaway everything they know and just ocmpletely indulge, but it surely doesnt have to be this way! sureee, its amazing to indulge at your fav restaurant and get your fav dish, but if you are going to a casual dinner, it is possible to stay healthy!

    fun breakfasts always happened at my house too! we always made pancakes or french toast, nowawadays I stick to my DELICIOUS oatmeal or I make healthy oatmeal pancakes!!

    great post Jess :)


  21. #
    Joanna Sutter (Fitness & Spice) — January 8, 2010 @ 4:58 am

    I’ve been making 1/2 recipes lately. Why haven’t I been doing this all my life? I’m single for pete’s sake!

    Maybe I should start making 1/4 recipes….hmmmm…food for thought! ;-)


  22. #
    Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers — January 8, 2010 @ 6:38 am

    i felt like you were writing this post to me. i thrive on a schedule & love the workweek for the fact that it’s so easy to make healthy choices when everything’s planned. come friday – sunday it’s all up in the air & i’m much more likely to indulge (not just one time a day either). i LOVE these tips. that whole 5 – 6 months analogy really resonated with me. here’s to a healthy weekend!


  23. #
    Total Fit Girl — January 8, 2010 @ 6:38 am

    You have such great tips! I love fun weekend breakfasts like whole wheat french toast :)


  24. #
    Amy from She Wears Many Hats — January 8, 2010 @ 6:38 am

    I need to plan ahead better – that seems to be my downfall every time. Thanks for all of the great reminders!


  25. #
    Morgan — January 8, 2010 @ 7:33 am

    Thank you for posting this! My husband is finally getting on board with healthy eating and living and loves it, but I think this would be really helpful to him!


  26. #
    Solomon — January 8, 2010 @ 7:46 am

    My wife (Morgan) was right (see comment above). I almost feel like this post was meant for me. Thank you for sharing all of that information. I am going to try to put it to good use since weekends have always been my downfall. Keep up the good work!


  27. #
    Jenny — January 8, 2010 @ 8:04 am

    I am so glad that you posted this – especially with the weekend right around the corner. I struggle with the weekends tremendously! Especially if there is a night where I just sit at home with a movie – this usually leads to bowls of popcorn and/or an ice cream sundae. Never good combos haha (well great, but ya know what I mean ) Thanks for the tips!


  28. #
    LC @ Let Them Eat Lentils — January 8, 2010 @ 10:16 am

    I definitely indulge in the drinks on the weekend – and food I might not eat otherwise (french fries). My new strategy is when I know I’m going to have a heavy night, to just try and eat lighter during that day. This works for the weekdays as well as the weekends. Then the next day, I eat regularly instead of trying to compensate.


  29. #
    stephchows — January 8, 2010 @ 11:33 am

    My eating is the same all week, lots of small meals. Although if I do eat out on the weekend I make sure to plan and you that meal as a combo of two smaller meals :) It’s all about moderation all the time! Eat lots of good for you stuff, and mix in some bad stuff but don’t feel guilty about it!


  30. #
    Jenny — January 8, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    I totally agree with you, having an all or nothing mindset is not only unhealthy, it just sets us up for disaster. Yet, SO many people I know have an all or nothing mindset. Thankfully, I’ve learned to savor eating out and I love to do so in moderation. And like you and your hubs, eating out does not mean eating more than I normally would. It means eating really good food (better than what I make) and enjoying a nice atmosphere at a restaurant.


  31. #
    Emily (A Nutritionisteats) — January 8, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    Ugh – this was me in college – except the weekend was thurs-mon am. After I gave up this mindset and started on a healthier path (I would deprive during the week and WAY over eat on the weekends) I lost all of the weight that I had gained pretty naturally.
    Great post!


  32. #
    Blond Duck — January 8, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

    I recently had to make myself do this. I used to restrict all week and throw all caution to the wind on weekends–now I’m much more balanced. Even though it’s not as much fun. Sigh.


  33. #
    Lisa — January 8, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

    love this!

    I too used to have a big time problem with weekends. I would stay at the boyfriends parents house which would have muffins, baked goods, and pastas-oh my! :)

    This statement really got me: To put it in perspective: 12 days out of a 31 day month, and almost 5-6 months out of every year.

    Wow, I had never really thought about it like that! You are right–the weekends shouldnt just be a free-for all. They should be about balance, just like every other day of the week.


  34. #
    Kelly B. — January 8, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

    What a GREAT post! I love your attitude! My husband and I rarely go out to eat either; we treat it as something special too! But we both have similar backgrounds as children and both of our parents cooked 95% of the time and healthy meals at that. I remember fast food being a BIG deal when I was little. Today I am thankful for the healthy habits my parents instilled in me. I definitely feel like my parents helped shaped my healthy eating habits today.

    With that said, I can totally relate to your weekends. Typically when I get off schedule I fall victim to some of the same traps you listed above. The biggest thing for me is planning and remembering to eat snacks and drink water. :)

    Happy Weekend!!


  35. #
    marla {Family Fresh Cooking} — January 9, 2010 @ 6:38 pm

    Great post! We share a lot of the same ideas when it comes to healthy eating, exercise and balance. Each day I live very mindfully. I eat 6 mini meals and I look forward to every one. I prepare most of our meals, we rarely go out. When I am at a restaurant I stick with my plan ’cause I love the way I eat. I always crave lean proteins and loads of veggies, so that is what I order. Healthy fats keep the cravings for other foods at bay. I have a huge sweet tooth that I pacify day to day with Stevia. When I splurge a few times a month I have my favorite…..Layer Cake. I enjoy a piece or more depending on my mood. I couldn’t imagine completely cutting out my favorite treats, it would be torture :)


  36. #
    Smart Green Gourmet — January 10, 2010 @ 9:33 am

    Great post! I think it’s also time to rethink what we mean by comfort food. Comfort food doesn’t have to be fried, or slathered with cheese, or full of fat. When we want comfort in winter, we want something warm and filling. I stock my pantry with Imagine, Pacific, and Trader Joe’s soups and a large selection of teas for weekend and weeknight comfort, and I’ve been experimenting with lots of quick soup recipes as well. Many high-fiber foods like squash are also very filling while low in calories and highly nutritious. I feel much more comfort knowing that I’m eating healthy!


  37. #
    Gabriela — January 14, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

    Weekends are definitely an indulgence time for me, though in college, it’s been hard to stick to a good eating schedule when so many people seem ready to celebrate just about anything. (Aced a test? Finished a paper? New internship? New boyfriend? Let’s have a drink or ten and chocolate cake to celebrate!) I try to eat “cleaner” at meals I prepare for myself on weekends, so that I can enjoy whatever I get at restaurants.

    I haven’t tried the banana pancakes, but all the other recipes I’ve tried from E,D&BV have been EXCELLENT, so if you try them, definitely give us a review!

    Have a great day- it’s almost the weekend!


  38. #
    Gracie @ Girl Meets Health — January 21, 2010 @ 9:17 am

    Do you realize you just described me to the T? Seriously!

    I absolutely love these suggestions. I can actually see myself coming back to this page every weekend to remind myself WHY I don’t want to overdo it and HOW not to. Thanks so much, girl!


  39. #
    Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) — February 10, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

    Those are great tips- I love the part where you basically say if you splurge weekends it’s nearly 50% of your life- eek.

    We eat at home most of the time too, but when I get together with the familia it’s ALWAYS around a restaurant. Everyone gets the super delish stuff and I get something that is as delish as I can make it, yet keeping cals in check- not the most fun. Usually a few bites of dessert and some wine sneak in there, which I know takes a caloric toll.


  40. #
    Paige — June 8, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

    I know this is an old post but I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I seriously love it!! this post has made such a difference for me. Thank you so much for writing it. I have always had a good relationship with food but I am definitely an all or nothing person that is trying to break that habit right now. Thank you for your awesome posts. I look forward to them. I have made you Honey crunch chicken and s’mores brownies. Both amazing.

    Thank you


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