On the weekends, it's natural to have a slight shift in your routine which can make it harder to stick to your healthy habits.
In order to keep focused on progressing towards the goals you've set yourself, it's important to have strategies in place to plan around common barriers or challenges that you may face at the weekend.
Our ultimate guide to staying healthy at home has great evidence-based tips to build healthy habits for eating and drinking at home, including practising mindful eating and avoiding excessive drinking and ultra-processed foods - all of which can be useful when planning your weekend.
We also have a few more tips below to add to your weekend routine!
Jazz up your meals and snacks
You may like to wake up a little later than usual on the weekend and enjoy a brunch style breakfast, rather than the traditional breakfast you might choose during the week. However, even on the weekends, it's still important to use the balanced plate model to build your meals.
For example, you might like to have 1-2 poached eggs (protein) with 1/4 avocado (healthy fats), 1 slice of thin wholemeal toast (complex carb), and a side of wilted spinach and mushrooms (non-starchy veggies). Check out our breakfast recipes here or in the Toolbox section of the app for inspiration!
Alongside this, if you've noticed that your eating habits are less structured at the weekend, you may find that you're more likely to snack throughout the day. This could be down to a number of factors including a lack of routine, boredom, or attending social events.
To help identify whether your desire for a snack is related to 'physical' or 'emotional' hunger, it can be helpful to use the hunger scale. Anything rated 3 or below is what we'd describe as 'physical hunger'.
As per usual, if you've left 4-5 hours between meals and are feeling physically hungry, we'd recommend having a balanced snack. This will help to keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day. We have some healthy snack ideas here to keep you feeling nourished and full until your next meal.
If you're looking for a fun activity to do during the weekend, why not try some healthy baking? If you have children, this is a great way to get them interested in cooking and understanding food.
Enjoy a 'fakeaway'
If you usually enjoy having a takeaway at the weekend, you could instead opt for a 'fakeaway' that you can make at home instead! The great thing about cooking your own meal is that you know exactly what ingredients are going in and you can make it as nutritious as possible. Here's an example of the delicious SN fakeaway Lamb Massaman Curry.
Choosing a dish with a good source of protein and non-starchy vegetables is a good rule of thumb to follow if you'd still like to order a takeaway at the weekend. Try to be mindful of your carbohydrate intake; if you genuinely feel like having a portion of carbs (e.g. chips or rice), then enjoy it and move on afterwards without feeling guilty!
If you don't really feel like eating them, swap for a side salad or extra veggies. We also have this guide on healthy eating out that you may find useful.
Be mindful of your alcohol intake
Alcohol can lead to a change in our food decisions, not only that night but for a few days afterwards as well. Alongside this, it can decrease our motivation to exercise and affect our sleep quality.
If you choose to drink alcohol, try to aim for a maximum of 2 alcoholic drinks in one sitting and remember to keep yourself hydrated with a glass of water in-between. For more information, we've written a guide about alcohol and weight gain which you can find here.
You may also like to consider making a non-alcoholic cocktail that's lower in sugar. You could try some of our Second Nature-friendly mocktails below which are just as delicious as the alcoholic versions:
Warm ginger pear mocktail with vanilla bean
- 2 ripe pears, cored and chopped
- 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 fresh or dried vanilla bean
- 350ml water
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Blend pears, ginger, vanilla bean and water in a food processor until you have a smooth puree
- Place a strainer over a saucepan and pour the pear puree into the strainer. Push the puree through the strainer until all the juice is in the saucepan.
- Gently heat the liquid over medium-low heat
- Once warmed, stir through the lemon juice and serve
Blueberry and mint mocktail
- 2 cups (300g) of frozen or fresh berries
- 1 bunch of mint, plus additional to serve
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 2 cups of ice, plus additional to serve
- Sparkling water to serve
- Combine berries, mint, lemon juice and crushed ice in a food processor
- To serve, place ice cubes and a sprig of mint in a glass. Pour over berry mixture and top with sparkling water.
If you fancy having an alcohol-free weekend but want to jazz up your drinks, you can check out our Flavoured water ideas too!
Complete a food diary
Finally, completing a food diary over the weekend can be a good way to help you stay focused on your healthy habits. You can use our 'Food diary' tool in the Toolbox section of the app to help with this. Tracking the foods and drinks that you're having can help you reflect on your choices and be more mindful of what you're eating.
Additionally, we may be feeling more hungry between meals (and therefore more likely to snack) if our main meals aren't nutritionally balanced. Using a food diary can help you visualise your meals and reflect on how you could make them more balanced next time.
Take home message
Having a shift in your routine on the weekend is completely normal, although we understand it can make it a little more difficult to stay focused on your healthy habits. The more you plan ahead, the easier it will be to continue working towards your goals, despite this shift in routine.
Some of our top tips to help you do this include planning balanced meals ahead of time, organising fun activities in the kitchen like healthy baking, having a home-cooked 'fakeaway' instead of a takeaway meal, being mindful of your alcohol intake and considering non-alcoholic drink options like mocktails instead, and tracking your food and drink intake using our Food diary in the app.
Written by Jemma Joel and Yancy Jensen, Second Nature Health Coaches