Do any of these Sunday night statements sound familiar to you?
“That’s it now, I am giving up chocolate for good”
“Right, this week now I am getting back to exercise and I am going to go to the gym five days”
“I’m cutting out all the fizzy drinks from tomorrow”
I am sure they will resonate with lots of you!
How has this worked out for you in the past? I am guessing not so well, it certainly hasn’t for me.
For years, I used to drive to Cork on a Sunday night after a weekend of overeating at home. I would stop into a shop on the way back up and buy a large (and I mean large!) cup of pick and mix sweets. I would wolf down those sweets for the next 30 minutes of my drive without thinking much about what I was doing. I’d arrive in Cork and I might attack the peanut butter jar for 5 minutes after getting in or tear into some Nutella. All because I had the mentality of “right, tomorrow now I am giving up all bad food and its salads and fish for the week”. This cycle went on for a good 18 month to 2 years.
When I look back now, I can see just how destructive this mindset was. I was depriving myself all week to then get to Thursday evening, crack open the wine and that was it until Sunday night again. Eating any food that came in sight. I would beat myself up in bed on Sunday night and promise myself the next week would be better.
It has taken time but I am finally at a place where I no longer have this mindset. Sunday night is not a night to tear the presses apart and eat everything in sight.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy at times and there are still weekends where I eat and drink all round me and have that bloated Monday feeling. What I have been able to do is implement routines and habits that benefit me.
Firstly, I no longer deprive myself of the foods I like during the week. By having chocolate during the week, I am not feeling deprived come Saturday night and eating a share size bar of Dairy Milk. I don’t rely on willpower to stop chocolate cravings. By having a little bar of chocolate every day, I am satisfying my sweet tooth and not seeing chocolate as a banned food.
I have also worked on the emotions I attach to food. I no longer refer to foods as good and bad. I look at food choices as nutritious and less nutritious. When we label foods as good and bad, we create an emotion towards food. When we eat a “bad” food it makes us feel guilt and shame. We think to ourselves, I have eaten the bad food so will keep going now until it is gone so no one will know. That’s what was happening to me with the pick and mix. I was eating them alone in the car and made sure to have them all eaten before I got back to Cork so no one would know.
Removing emotion from food doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistent practice and checking in with yourself but is absolutely achievable.
Finally, set your environment up for success and don’t have the foods in the house in the first place. Are you buying the packet of biscuits for visitors or for yourself?! Be honest with yourself. Come Saturday night at 8pm, that packet of biscuits / tub of ice-cream / bag of doritos is going to be calling your name and you probably won’t be able to ignore it.
Getting control of your weekends is literally life changing to living a healthier lifestyle. It doesn’t happen overnight but by consistently checking in with yourself, you can take control of your weekends and get rid of the Sunday night guilts for good.