Getting Weekends Under Control

In session this week, my client, Natalie, told me that she’s in a good groove during the week. She has the same breakfast most days, she brings her lunch and afternoon snack to work, and plans in advance what she’ll have for dinner. She’s able to resist cravings for the junk food in her office kitchen because she knows that if there’s something she really wants, she can take it home and have it for dessert after dinner. While this is all wonderful, Natalie said that she was still feeling a little distressed because weekends weren’t going nearly as well. Like many people, Natalie has much less structure on weekends, she eats out a lot more, and she often finds herself in the kitchen wanting to graze throughout the day. 

Natalie’s experience is typical of many of my clients. It’s common for dieters to get their weekday eating under control before their weekend eating. For most people, weekends provide many more challenges that take more time to work out and overcome. To help Natalie better control her weekends, we decided that each week we would pick two or three specific goals to work on over the weekend, and if she mastered those changes, we would then make more.

We first made a list of some of the changes Natalie would work on in the next few weeks:

  1. Eat three meals and one small snack OR eat two meals (brunch and dinner) and one big snack.
  2. Eat fruit or vegetables for my small snack.
  3. No grazing during the day.
  4. Eat everything sitting down.
  5. No dessert until after dinner.
  6. Put down my fork between every bite to help me eat more slowly and mindfully.
  7. Make plans with friends so I get out of the house.
  8. Go to the gym at least one weekend day and take a walk the other day.
  9. Make a list of house projects and plan specific time during the day to start one.
  10. Look up menus and decide in advance what I’m going to eat when I eat out.
  11. Ask my husband to temporarily keep the chips and cookies in his home office so I don’t see them every time I walk into the kitchen.

For this weekend, Natalie decided that she would work on eating everything sitting down (which she was already doing most of the time, but not all the time), putting down her fork between every bite, making plans with friends to get out of the house during the day, and asking her husband to keep tempting food in his office.  About eating sitting down, Natalie said that she might have the sabotaging thought, “It’s okay just this one time to eat standing up.”  Natalie made the following Response Card:

Every single time matters because every time I’m either exercising my giving-in or my resistance muscle. If I eat standing up, no matter what it is, I make it more likely I’ll give in and stand up the next time I’m tempted to.  Once I make myself sit down every single time, then this skill will get a lot easier because my resistance muscle will be strong. Every time matters!

About eating mindfully and putting down her fork between bites, Natalie said that the biggest barrier would be simply remembering to do so. She decided that she would set alarms on her phone to go off around meal times to help remind her to put her fork down, and she would also get out a new placemat to use, which would act as a visual cue to slow down.

Natalie said she didn’t anticipate any problems with making plans with friends (she was going to call her friend as soon as she left session) and said she would ask her husband tonight to put the food in his office. She knew he would agree because he was supportive of her efforts. After Natalie masters these changes this week, we’ll move on to more changes next week, and before long Natalie’s weekend eating will be well under control!

2 replies
  1. Caroline
    Caroline says:

    I follow weight watchers flex plan and there are a lot of zero pointed foods you can eat. I plan my main meals and my dessert every day but I usually have some points left every day, not to mention my weeklies. Is it okay if I use these points for spontaneous eating? After all I am not going over my allocated daily/weekly point allowance. Or will this sabotage me in the long run? I am maintaining currently, having reached my goal weight but finding that takes as much effort as losing.

    • says:

      It depends! For some people, using them spontaneously just wouldn’t work because it would reinforce the notion that if I want something (even if I hadn’t planned for it) I can have it. Once that gets ingrained, they’re likely to be in situation where they want something spontaneously but DON’T have the points for it, but won’t be able to overcome it because they’re reinforced the habit of spontaneous eating. For others it might work to use them spontaneously. You could try, and then if you find yourself having trouble (like being tempted many times throughout the day to eat spontaneously) then go back planning everything and/or planning all your points.


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