From Monday to Thursday, many of us tend to eat well, find time to exercise, and generally make time for the things that make us feel our best. Although we try our hardest to stay on track with our healthy habits during the workweek, it can still be difficult to figure out how to stay healthy on the weekends. Friday night rolls around, and suddenly we're craving late night pizza and pounding down beers rather than chowing down on well-planned and well-balanced dinners. Of course, all of this stuff is totally great if it's what you prefer, but if you're focusing on nutrient intake or trying to stay on track with habits that give you the most energy possible rather than take it away, weekends can often be a little frustrating.
"Weekdays for many people are structured, so people may participate in some extent of meal planning for the week, but that may not extend to the weekend," says Rebecca Clyde, RD, CD to Bustle over email. "A less-structured plan or no plan can open the door to changing up habits over the weekend."
Weekends can be time for lazy days or a chance to enjoy food out with friends, and there's definitely no reason why you shouldn't cut yourself a little slack when it comes down to what you do. But if you find yourself completely throwing your health to the wayside when it's a personal priority for you to pay more attention to it, it might be time to start figuring out how you can incorporate a little more wellness into your weekends. Try following the below seven tips that can help you stay on track once Friday evening rolls around.
1. Be Mindful
"If you find yourself eating chips or anything from the bag while watching TV, you’re likely mindlessly eating more than you recognize," says Clyde. Paying attention to what you are eating can help you avoid this. Tactics for mindful eating include savoring and recognizing the texture and flavor of each bite or eating at a very slow pace while thinking about your food. A study from Indiana State University and Duke University have found that practicing mindful eating can prevent you from overeating as well as help you differentiate the difference of physical hunger and emotional hunger.
2. Drink Right
If you definitely plan on hitting up happy hour, make sure you're making the healthiest choices when it comes to cocktails. Avoid sugary mixers or syrups, opt for light liquor over dark, try to choose juice with real fruit juice, and stick to one shot per drink. This will prevent you from getting more intoxicated than you planned, and will help you feel much better the following day.
3. Plan Weekend Meals
"Plan meals or snacks for busy days, and plan them for slow days," says Clyde. "It does take time upfront, but it makes mealtime decisions way easier if you don’t have to actually stand in front of the fridge or think of somewhere to grab quick food if you’ve already made that decision." Just as you would meal prep during the week, you can put together a few dishes for the weekend. If you don't have time for that, you can eat least think about what you will be cooking.
4. Eat Before You Go Out
If you're going to brunch or dinner with friends, there's no need to stress about food and skip out. Instead, eat a light, healthy snack before you go so you're not starving when it's time to order. This way, you'll avoid choosing something heavy and won't be clouded with extreme hunger when picking your order.
5. Choose Walking
Many times on weekends we are rushing around from place to place, so it might sound tempting to take your car or public transportation, but choosing to walk or ride your bike when you're out on the town can help add in some exercise to your otherwise cramped weekend (of course, given if the weather permits). Whether you're running errands or headed to your friend's party, choosing to get moving before you get there can give you a quick way to get your heart rate up.
6. Pick A Time To Splurge
The weekend is a good time to treat yourself, but if you're choosing to indulge in every meal, your body may feel a little sluggish and your energy levels way down by the time Sunday night comes around. Choose one or two specific times to have a treat or a specific day to lay around, but outside of that choice, stick to keeping in line with your normal weekday habits. You won't feel deprived, but you also won't beat yourself up Monday morning for having a little too much fun the day before.
7. Plan Healthy Activities
It often seems like meeting up with friends involves going out to eat at rather unhealthy places, but instead of choosing to meet for lunch, suggest meeting a friend for a weekend hike or walk around the museum. If you still want food to be involved, suggest cooking a meal together or a home-cooked potluck.
The great thing about weekends is that they're totally yours. If you want to be healthy and focus on energy-boosting nutrition, good for you. If you want to eat pizza and watch Netflix all weekend, that's cool too. Both things can make you feel fabulous in their own special way. But if you're aiming for the former, be sure to remember these tips.