You MUST eat your favorite foods if you want to lose weight.

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Ryan Day Coaching

Yes, you read that right.

“But Ryan, my favorite foods are pizza, brownies, burgers, and beer. Surely you don’t mean that I need to eat those to lose weight.”

Nope, that’s exactly what I mean. You need to make room for all of your favorite foods in moderation if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.  Monday to Thursday you are absolutely “perfect” with your nutrition.  You meal prepped, didn’t allow anything outside of your prepped food, had a lot of protein, and even a few fruits and veggies each day.  

Then the weekend comes along and you go off the rails. Even if it’s just for one day – you go extreme in the other direction and eat like an asshole all day.  

And for what? To make the most of your “cheat day”? Only to feel awful the next day?

I know how this feels. I used to live for the weekend so I could finally crush a philly cheesesteak and throw back a few IPAs. Shoot, maybe even have some pancakes for breakfast and a buffalo chicken sandwich for lunch. After all, I was “perfect” with my food throughout the week, so why not?

I’ll tell you why not – You’re sabotaging yourself.

By telling yourself that you “can’t” have certain foods during the week and are only “allowed” to eat certain foods on the weekend, you’re setting yourself up for a chaotic binge of foods that don’t love you back.

I see it happen all the time.

It’s tempting to designate the weekend as the time to indulge, especially when you’ve been disciplined all week. But what seems like a harmless splurge can have unintended consequences. Let’s break it down.

Psychological Impact

Telling yourself that certain foods are off-limits during the week can create a forbidden fruit mentality. The moment the weekend arrives, the allure of those “forbidden” foods becomes irresistible. You end up overindulging, not just in the foods themselves but also in the psychological satisfaction of rebellion.

Nutritional Rollercoaster

Extreme shifts in your diet, from strict adherence to overindulgence, can wreak havoc on your body. The sudden influx of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash. This rollercoaster not only affects your energy levels but also plays tricks on your metabolism.

Guilt and Shame

The aftermath of a weekend binge is often marked by guilt and shame. You beat yourself up for “undoing” the week’s hard work. This emotional turmoil isn’t just unpleasant; it can also set the stage for a cycle of restrictive eating followed by binging, creating an unhealthy relationship with food.

Embracing Moderation for Sustainable Success

So, what’s the alternative? It’s all about balance and moderation. Here’s how you can shift from a restrictive mindset to a more sustainable approach.

Include Your Favorites Regularly

Instead of saving your favorite foods for a designated “cheat day,” integrate them into your regular meals. If you’re craving pizza, find a way to make it a part of your week without going overboard. Opt for a homemade version with protein on it or be sure to have some veggies with it.

Portion Control is Key

The secret to enjoying your favorite treats without derailing your progress is moderation. Allow yourself a slice of cake or a serving of fries without feeling guilty. It’s not about complete avoidance but rather managing portions to fit within your overall nutritional goals.

Plan Your Indulgences

Rather than leaving indulgences to chance on the weekend, plan for them strategically. Knowing that you have a dinner with friends on Saturday or a family brunch on Sunday allows you to make conscious choices. You can adjust your meals earlier in the day to accommodate the extra calories.

Mindful Eating

Savor every bite of your favorite foods. Mindful eating involves being present and fully enjoying the flavors and textures of your meal. This can naturally lead to eating smaller portions as you become more attuned to your body’s signals of satisfaction.

Every time you eat, think to yourself, “What am I getting from this?” The more you do this, the more awareness you’ll create around your eating habits, which is one of the most powerful tools in balancing out your relationship with food.

Weekly Reflection and Adjustment

At the end of each week, reflect on your eating habits. Were there moments of unnecessary restriction or excessive indulgence? Use this self-awareness to adjust your approach for the following week. It’s an ongoing process of fine-tuning your relationship with food.

The Path to Lasting Change

By embracing moderation and balance, you’re not just preventing weekend binges; you’re laying the foundation for a sustainable, long-term relationship with food. Remember, it’s not about perfection but progress. Celebrate the victories, learn from the challenges, and keep moving forward.

Your Action Plan for the Week

1. Identify Your Favorites: Make a list of your absolute favorite foods that you’ve been avoiding during the week.

2. Incorporate Them: Choose at least one of these favorites and find a way to incorporate it into your weekday meals. Get creative with healthier alternatives if needed.

3. Practice Portion Control: When you do indulge, focus on portion control. Enjoy the taste without overloading your system.

4. Plan Ahead: If you know you have a social event or a special meal coming up, plan your other meals accordingly. It’s all about balance over time.

5. Reflect and Adjust: At the end of the week, take a moment to reflect on how this approach felt. What worked well, and where can you make small adjustments?

Allowing yourself to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation is a much more sustainable approach to losing weight than the classic restrict/binge approach. You give yourself the freedom to make the choices that are best for you on any given day without feeling like you can never have a beer or cupcake. Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes.

And for goodness sake, please rid “cheat days” from your life for good.