Erasing Weekend Diet Damage

african american woman standing on scale

One rule of modern life: overeating happens. Doesn’t matter if it’s the day after a holiday, or the Monday after a weekend of partying: many people wake up the next morning after a major splurge cursing themselves for ruining their diet.

But before you decide to drown your frustration in a plate of cookies and resign yourself to a lifetime of drawstring pants, use the below tips to undo some of the damage and resume your healthy-eating path.

7AM
Like many people, you may have woken up feeling fat, bloated, and mad at yourself for overdoing it.

What to do: Stop beating yourself up.

“The first thing I would tell people is not to be your own worst enemy, not to be super critical,” says clinical psychologist Nancy Molitor, PhD, public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association. “When you turn on yourself, it’s not the food, it’s you that you’re battling. Admit you overdid it and be honest, but recognize that you’re human.”

8AM
Don’t skip breakfast because that could set you up for overeating later in the day, says Andrea Spivack, RD, LDN, medical nutrition therapist at the Stunkard Weight Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

What to do: Make a healthy morning meal.

A filling, well-balanced breakfast like this one has only 407 calories:

1. Pour 1 c Kashi Go-Lean cereal into a bowl
2. Top with 1 c blueberries (frozen is just as good as fresh
3. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp walnuts
4. Add 1 c low-fat or fat-free milk

9:30AM
Your at work, telling yourself that you need to drop a few pounds by watching what you eat this week. But a general wish isn’t likely to give you the results you desire. Molitor recommends setting a reasonable, concrete goal and creating a plan that will help you reach it. Be sure to write down your goals–it’ll make you more likely to commit to them.

What to do: Aim to lose 1 pound in the next week.

To do that you’ll have to reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 to 300 calories and burn off 200 to 300 calories a day for an average weekly deficit of 3,500 calories, says David B. Sarwer, PhD, clinical psychologist and director of the Stunkard Weight Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

If you usually exercise 3 days a week, add an extra day. If you’re not a regular exerciser, then try to walk for at least 5 minutes, 3 times a day to start. It’s okay to start small; any little movement adds up to calories burned.

Noon
Eat a lunch packed with feel-full veggies and satisfying protein.

Mediterranean Wrap (Total Calories: 323)

1. 1 lg whole wheat tortilla
2. 2 Tbsp garlic-flavored hummus
3. 1/4 c roasted red pepper strips
4. 4 slices roast turkey breast (or low-sodium deli turkey)
5. 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
6. 1/4 c lettuce

• Lay tortilla flat on large cutting board. Spoon hummus evenly over tortilla to within 1/2″ of edge. Lay peppers evenly over hummus. Layer on turkey slices. Sprinkle with mint. Layer on lettuce leaves. Fold in sides and then roll to form wrap. Cut diagonally in half.

• Serve immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

1:30PM
Start logging your food calories in a journal or online diary.

What to do: Write down what you’re eating.

Starting a food diary is a research-proven weight loss technique. If you’ve never kept a food journal before, click on the link below to try Prevention’s free My Health Tracker tool and start logging food calories and portions. If you have logged food calories before, start again to track what you’re eating and how much.

Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, PhD, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says keeping a food diary helps you get back to being accountable. “It raises awareness and gets you focused on eating healthier foods.”

3:30PM
You might be feeling midafternoon hunger pangs and eyeing that leftover cake in the fridge. But before you reach for a slice, take a deep breath and assess what your body needs.

What to do: Keep hunger under control.

Drink a glass of water and wait about 10 minutes to determine if you are truly hungry. It’s easy to mistake hunger for thirst, notes Dee Sandquist, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

If you are still hungry, have a small snack. Research has shown that eating regular meals or snacks every 3 to 4 hours can keep you from overeating.

Graham cracker snack (Total Calories: 137)

1. 1/4 c grapes
2. 2 graham cracker squares
3. 8 oz water

6:30PM
A healthy dinner doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the kitchen. This easy recipe is ready in less than 10 minutes.

Personal Pizza (Total Calories: 396)

1. Top 1 toasted whole wheat pita with 1/2 c chopped tomatoes, 1/4 c shredded part-skim mozzarella, 1/2 c grilled chicken breast, and 1/4 c chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
2. Sprinkle with minced garlic and oregano.
3. Place under oven broiler until bubbly

7 PM
If you didn’t get any exercise today, go for a 10-minute walk after dinner. Walking after eating can help relieve belly bloat.

10 PM
Late night is often a very dangerous time for snackers, who reach for food out of boredom, emotion, or exhaustion. You can help avoid this temptation by just brushing your teeth, washing your face and hitting the sack!

What to do: Get at least 7 hours of sleep.

Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do to get back on track after overeating, says Sandquist. Research shows there are links between inadequate sleep and obesity. A study from Case Western Reserve University of about 68,000 middle-age women found that those who slept 5 or fewer hours were 32% more likely to experience major weight gain, and 15% more likely to become obese, than those who slept an average of 7 hours.

For the rest of the week, remember to:

• Weigh yourself to stay aware of the damage (and if you’re undoing it)
• Continue with your exercise plan
• Engage in positive self-talk and encouragement
• Eat meals around the same time every day
• Eat snacks with a serving of MUFAs, such as avocados, nuts, olives and dark chocolate
• Eat slowly

By following the above plan of attack, you (and your hips, butt and belly) will feel better before you know it!

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