Adjusting Your Food On Your Days Off
We are not robots.
I am glad to have cleared that up.
With this is mean that we don’t have to eat the same thing every day, day in, day out. In fact this is detrimental in the way that it reduces variety in our diets and lifestyle. Variety is not just something that brings nutritional benefits, but also lifestyle, social and psychological disadvantages. Getting variety in our diet is also a tame method of reducing the risk of craving and the urge to snack or binge on particular foods. Variety is after all, the spice of life.
So getting variety into our weekly nutrition is hugely beneficial for our overall health. That being said, it’s all too often that we find ourselves in busy lives for the majority of the week, for many that is the 9–5, 5 days a week. Then of course there are the kids to deal with, the home to manage, the workouts and extracurricular activities of our day, so where is the time to really get that variety in and home cook meals when we are so busy?
I find that an effective solution here to alter between routine eating in the week when time is poor, then a larger variety of eating on our off days when we are more time rich. In these days off we can eat differently to the rest of the week as its likely that off days look completely different. If you are in the office all day 5 days a week, you’re going to eat a little differently at the weekend. This is completely okay and something to be embraced. If you are looking forward to Sunday roast, a Friday steak or spaghetti bolognese Saturday, then embrace it fully.
The way you live will dictate what food your will NEED. What you enjoy and your attitude to food will decide what food you want for FUN.
On the other side you have someone who is physically active all week., like a mountain guide or a carpenter or a builder, they are on their feet all week and working hard, their time off could be the complete opposite, in which case they are not likely to need to eat the same way as they would in the mountains or on the site, the caloric demand will be different and also will the variety of food.
With clients whom I have helped, similar scenarios present themselves, which I have outlined below.
Sedentary work week with little time availability: Getting healthy in this situation can seem like a tough job, it can seem like there is just not enough time to prepare healthy meals and plan our food. But in this case I have found that setting a baseline of caloric requirement and a series of simple and easy to prepare meals that are stables in the individuals working week.
At the weekend and the time off, this is the time to add more variety into the diet. But this is where we might WANT to eat more calories due to our social time and more relaxed approach to dieting*. On the other hand, we might NEED to consume more calories if we are fuelling our training (and the working week is in a calorie deficit or maintenance — depending on the individual). The difference between the diets of the working week and weekend allows for more controllable and less stressful approach to understanding what makes up our food and the impact that has on the body.
*It goes without saying that we must remember the effect on the body that the food we eat has. Over eating at the weekend to the extent that the weekly 7-day average of your calorie target is taken into excess, will lead to weight gain.
Highly active job all week and relaxing weekends: With those who have active jobs all week and use their weekends for rest and relaxing, the dietary approach must be adequate enough to ensure that there is not a chronic energy deficiency. With clients of a similar situation, we have adapted to this lifestyle through ensuring caloric maintenance through the week to fuel the demands on the body. This has come through a similar approach to the above scenario where time is poor and there is the necessity for prepared meals, or a selection of go-to nutrient dense meals that ensure energy balance. The greater importance here is for protein and to reduce to urge to snack.
Here it is key to establish a repertoire of nutritious meals that you like, that you know you can call on for ease. The weekends are then for meals that I call ‘obtusely healthy’, and lower in calories. These particular clients do not need to eat as they would in their daily job, and therefore can consume less. If your weekend meals are loaded with salad, vegetables, fruits and plants in general, then you are both helping in consuming less calories with more volume of food and maintaining an healthy and functioning body.
In summary, adjusting your calories, macros and eating patterns on your days off to your days working is good practice. But as with everything in nutrition, it is dependent of the individual and the circumstances. The best place to start is by discussing YOUR situation with an evidence based nutritionist and understanding your requirements. Form there you can go forth empowered and informed to make the right decisions and show up a healthier and better version of you.
To get started, all you need to do is ask — own your starting foot steps.
Stay safe, stay informed,
MNU Certified Evidence Based Nutritionist
Nutrition, Fitness and Mindset Coach
Record Breaking Endurance Athlete
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