Ways to improve your diet at the weekend

by Ali on September 12, 2008

It’s easy to reach 5pm on Friday, breath a long sigh of relief, and switch straight into “weekend mode” – which often means forgetting about pesky little details like healthy eating plans. And when it’s the weekend, we’re around friends and family, and want to enjoy ourselves, which can sometimes mean eating all the wrong things.

If your weekend typically (or all too often) consists of: post-work drinks, and post-drinks greasy junk food, on a Friday; a late hung-over sausage-bacon-fried-bread brunch on Saturday; a big meal out Saturday evening; a traditional roast with all the trimmings on Sunday … you’re not doing your diet any favours.

So how can you improve your diet at the weekend without becoming a miserable hermit, nibbling on ryvitas whilst everyone else is tucking into a family meal?

Eat more fruit and vegetables

If you’re managing to get five-a-day at the weekends, good for you – but you could still eat more! (And if you’re not regularly hitting that five-a-day, make it your next goal.) Eating more fruit and vegetables is an easy way to make your weekend healthier. It might mean:

  • Having a salad or soup as a starter when you’re out
  • Making a big fruit salad or fruit platter for breakfast at the weekend
  • Enjoying in-season fruit for dessert, instead of cake or ice-cream
  • Cooking twice as much veg – and half as many potatoes – for Sunday lunch

Keep up with your food diary

Sometimes, when I’m keeping a food diary, Monday – Friday is filled in perfectly … then there’s a bit of a gap! If you find yourself snacking unhealthily or eating too much at meal times at the weekend, try writing down everything you eat this Saturady and Sunday. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable and to see exactly what you’re putting in your mouth.

Try to eat regularly

It’s easy to end up grazing on food at the weekend – if you’re out shopping or visiting local attractions on Saturday or Sunday, regular meals might be abandoned in favour of a succession of snacks. The problem with this sort of eating is that it tends to involve all the worst types of foods – chips, chocolate, ice-creams, doughnuts, pastries ….

If you’re going to be out most of the day, plan to eat lunch at a sensible time, and order a meal (ideally containing protein to keep you full for longer, and some veg) rather than a few snacks. You might also want to take some cereal bars or fruit out with you for the day, so that you have something healthy to munch on if hunger does strike.

When you’re at home, don’t let the day revolve around your next snack! Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and keep busy in between so that you don’t find yourself constantly raiding the fridge.

Make healthy meals for the whole family

Weekends are a great chance for busy working couples and families to find time to enjoy a meal together. But if your favourite weekend meals are things like plates of nachos, big bowls of creamy pasta, or curries from the nearest Indian take-away – followed by huge ice-cream sundaes or stodgy puddings – you might want to make some changes. Don’t feel guilty about shifting the family away from their usual choices: you want them to be healthy, too. Of course, you don’t need to cut out everything which is a bit “naughty” – just make a few changes.

How about:

  • Ditching nachos in favour of a few tortilla chips and salsa, followed by prawn tortilla wraps and crudites.
  • Swapping a creamy pasta sauce for a tomato-based one. Try my Pasta with tomato, turkey rasher & veg sauce for a kid-friendly recipe, or Pasta with prawns, olives and vegetable sauce for adults and teens who’ll eat prawns (that’s shrimp to our US readers) and olives.
  • Buying a supermarket curry pack to cook at home, instead of getting a take-away. Yes, it’s better to cook curry from scratch – but that can be more of a hassle than you want on a Friday night. The supermarket versions can be quite high-calorie, but not so bad as take-aways.
  • Having sorbet or frozen yoghurt for dessert, instead of your usual ice-cream. For a really fun option (though this requires some fore-planning) layer different coloured jellies and fruit pieces in sundae glasses and top with a blob of low-fat squirty cream when serving.
  • Making a light sponge cake with jam and icing sugar, rather than a gooey chocolate fudge cake or a cheesecake. Again, it’s not perfect – but it’ll slash the calories to about a third!

(Image above from Flickr by the food pornographer.)

Have a great, healthy-eating-friendly weekend – and head back to The Office Diet on Monday for some thoughts on the Ideal Dieting Office … if you don’t want to miss out, make sure you add The Office Diet to your RSS reader now, or get every post straight to your email for free (fill in your email address on the top right).

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