Hands up if your pants have felt a little tight after an indulgent weekend? Dietitian Karissa Woolfe shows how to get the most kicks for the least kilos.
Heading out on the weekends — or just hanging out around home — can make you sideline everyday healthy habits. Here are three of the sneaky saboteurs who can undermine your weekday wins — and the tactics to outwit them.
Relaxing over a glass or two of wine means you’re enjoying it in moderation. But if you drink more than four glasses over two hours, your resolve to stay on track can quickly evaporate.
Liquid kilojoules add up fast — and alcohol stimulates your appetite, which makes it easy to overeat those high-fat nibbles from the bar (hot chips, anyone?). If you feel hungover the morning after you might find yourself seriously craving fatty takeaway foods — or even end up spending the rest of the day in front of the TV as a chomping couch potato.
Three ways to scape an ‘un-happy’ hour
Set a limit and stick to it. This can be challenging, especially if there’s social pressure to drink more, but by setting a goal for how many drinks you want to enjoy and sticking to it, you will feel empowered.
Eat before you leave the office (or home). Eating a healthy snack, such as a slice of grainy toast with avocado or peanut butter, or wholegrain crackers and reduced-fat cheese, will ensure you don’t turn up to drinks famished. This means you won’t drink just to feel full, and helps you pace your drinking.
Drink plenty of water. Drinking water during the day stops you from sculling your first drink purely through thirst. It also helps keep you well hydrated before and after happy hour, which is a good way of preventing a hangover headache. Win-win!
Smart drink swaps at the bar
Gin & tonic
30ml nip of gin with diet tonic water (instead of tonic water)
Vodka, lime & soda
30ml nip of vodka with soda water with a wedge of lemon/lime (instead of lemonade)
450kJ (108 cal)
Half-glass of wine topped with soda water
The weekend sleep-in
You might have heard that a lack of sleep can trigger overeating and weight gain, but did you know getting too much sleep can do the same?
Researchers in Finland have found that people who go to bed late and rise late (‘night owls’) sleep worse, have poorer eating habits and are less physically active than ‘early birds’. So all that extra sleep could put you at risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the future.
Interestingly, the Finnish study found the eating habits of night owls were worse on weekends, when they skipped meals, grazed more frequently and also consumed more kilojoules, sugar and saturated fat. This is because when people wake up late, breakfast often becomes brunch, and skipping meals tends to make you snack more. This means you can easily overeat if you’re not careful — while also potentially missing out on vital nutrients found in healthy food.
Three ways to get a better night’s sleep
Be consistent. Your body clock loves the routine of going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning. Sleep experts say the sleep sweet spot for a healthy body weight nestles somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
Become a weekend warrior. Sleeping in late eats into your active leisure time, with current guidelines suggesting you need about 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day to maintain a healthy weight. Even if you can’t fit in these sessions during the week, latest evidence shows that one or two sessions during the weekend can lower your risk of dying from cancer and heart disease. So.… time to become a weekend warrior!
Head outdoors. Exposure to sunlight early in the day helps to synchronise your body clock, thanks to melatonin, a hormone released after dark which tells your body it’s time to sleep. All the more reason to go for a morning walk outside.
From café breakfasts and pub meals, to the movie theatre, food court or canteen at the local sporting ground, making healthy food choices during your weekend adventures can be tricky — and eating out regularly can also become expensive!
Serving sizes when dining out are usually much larger than at home. A recent study of 364 US restaurants found 92 per cent of them serve main meals which exceed people’s daily kilojoule intake in a single serve (yep, that’s without ordering a glass of wine, entrée or dessert!)
Eating out can also mean eating less fruit and vegetables than you would normally eat during the week if cooking at home, and thanks to a lack of fibre, constipation can become an issue.
Three tips for healthier meals out
Try 80:20. It can be hard to find healthy meals at restaurants and cafes, but if you make the bulk of the meals you eat at home, you have some ‘wiggle room’ heading out. Making simple tweaks to your eating-out menu, such as ordering a side salad for extra veg, or requesting fish to be grilled instead of battered or crumbed, can also help you stay ahead of the kilojoule creep.
BYO. Whether you’re heading out for a few hours or maybe for a full-day adventure, you can make sure you avoid getting ‘hangry’ (hunger-angry) and skip the risk of overeating by carrying a stash of healthy snacks. A crisp apple, muesli bar or zip-lock bag of nuts are satisfying options to stave off hunger — and be sure to grab a bottle of water. Or pack a cooler bag or esky for the family full of sandwiches, reduced-fat yoghurts, fresh fruit and nuts.
Sharing is caring. Order a main meal to share. You can always order a salad on the side to stretch the meal out a little further: you’ll boost fibre intake and satiety at the same time!
Did you know? Fruity cocktails can have more kilojoules than a cheeseburger!