How to Stop Binging on the Weekends [Podcast Episode 27]

Hey! Shannon Western here; nutritionist, therapist, and host of The Ease With Food Podcast. Welcome to episode 27!

I delve into the common struggle of weekend binge eating.

The main take-aways and highlights include:

  • Dull weekdays with food: The contrast between bland weekday meals and indulgent weekend foods can trigger binge eating. Shannon recommends integrating favorite weekend foods into weekday routines to create a more balanced and satisfying diet, fostering a healthier relationship with food.
  • Food as the Sole Source of Joy: When weekends revolve solely around meals, cafes, and culinary delights, it can lead to stress and emotional struggles. Shannon advises diversifying weekend activities, incorporating hobbies, socializing, or self-care to reduce the focus on food and expand sources of joy.
  • Monday Diet Resolutions: Falling into the trap of viewing Monday as a fresh start often precedes weekend binge eating. Shannon advocates recognizing and challenging diet-related thoughts, shifting focus away from restrictive thinking. Consistent eating patterns, including regular and sufficient meals, help break the cycle.
  • Work on Halting Biological Hunger: Focus on meeting biological hunger by consuming three meals and two to three snacks daily. Consistent eating patterns reduce the intensity of binges over time.
  • Make Food Exciting Throughout the Week: Incorporate favorite weekend treats into regular meals to combat the “get it while you can” feeling, lessening the urge to overindulge on weekends.
  • Long-Term Work: Address the Root Cause: To achieve lasting change, Shannon emphasizes the importance of addressing the root cause of binge eating. Seek support for long-term healing, understanding emotional, psychological, or situational factors contributing to the behavior.
  • Focus on Self-Care, Including Eating Enough and Regularly: Prioritize both physical and emotional self-care, ensuring regular and adequate nutritional intake. Incorporate activities beyond food that bring joy, relaxation, and fulfillment.

One thing to take away from the episode:

I think you need a holistic approach to overcome weekend binge eating. It’s not just about the weekend, right? The weekend is simply when you’re noticing a problem.

You need to address your immediate triggers and work on the long-term aspects of the relationship with food.

Until next time, take care!

Episode transcript

So today I’m bringing you reasons why you keep binge eating at the weekend and how to solve it. And we’re calling it solve. But you know, there’s no easy solution here. These tips are going to be starter tips, but with a caveat that you can do some quick tips all you want, but actually what’s going to cure your binge eating long term is to really heal your relationship to food. And usually that’s not just putting a plaster on the weekend binge eating.

It’s usually a lot deeper work and more long term work than the tips I’m going to give you. That being said, I do hope that the tips I give you help you. And let’s get into the episode. So you might be someone who binge eats at the weekend. And you might have found this episode because you’ve Googled or you’ve searched on a podcast app, binging at the weekend.

I have a really popular article on a website that’s found by hundreds of people every month who Google the exact phrase binging on the weekend. And so what happens is every Sunday night we get a flux of inquiries from people who want to work with us who are struggling with binge eating on the weekend. And no, I do not have your browsing history in front of me, but I just know that this is something that you might have searched for to find this episode. So I hope it’s helpful. So I know you’re really frustrated that you keep binging on the weekend.

Maybe it feels like you eat final week and then it gets to the weekend and it’s just a free for all. Maybe you get so fed up every weekend that every night you go to bed on a Sunday, you think, that’s it, I’m pulling in the reins. This is all going to change. This is never going to happen again. You just want to go one weekend without ending up kind of prowling around your kitchen.

And I really hear you because weekend binging is one of the most common things that we work with in my clinic.

And so I want to give you a few reasons like why it’s happening, because I think that that would be helpful to kind of get that out there. So these are three common reasons that I see for people binging on the weekend. So number one, your food through the week is just too boring or it’s too clean, it’s too healthy, it’s not tasty and it’s not interesting. So if your week is filled with foods that you kind of like, they’re not your favorite foods, but they’re kind of boring, they’re kind of drab, they’re kind of not really quenching. Quenching.

I guess that’s thirst, but they’re not really satisfying you fully. Then, of course, on the weekend, it’s going to be natural for you to overeat and binge eat and try to get your paws on whatever food you can get. I know you wish you didn’t want to eat all these foods on the weekend, but no matter how hard you try, you’re probably not going to be able to control yourself if through the week your food is very different. And especially when your food on the weekend that you eat is followed with guilt, shame, and I’m going to do better next week, it’s kind of just setting yourself up for this perfect storm of like, physical restriction, which is when you say, okay, I’m going to cut back on XYZ Foods. And it’s also coupled with mental restriction, which is I’m just going to eat healthy.

I’m just going to be good. I’m just going to be mindful with what I’m eating. Because you can be restricting in many different ways, but those are two main ways. And so what I would recommend, if you’re struggling with the weekend and it’s maybe because your food through the week is really boring, I would recommend a few things. I would recommend really giving yourself some compassion and a break that of course it makes sense that you’re binging on the weekend if you’re having a kind of really lovely lunch and a really lovely spread of food on a Saturday, but then through the week you’re having a really gross sandwich or a really low calorie salad for lunch during the week.

There’s a really big contrast between these two days. You need to make things more interesting, and I feel like if you did, I think you would see quite a big difference quite quickly. There might be a bit of period of time where things feel a little bit out of control during the week as well. But over time, you’re going to reach an equilibrium and the foods that you’re eating through the week hopefully will kind of counterbalance the weekend and it will be more of a kind of natural range rather than I have my good food on the weekend and I have my boring food through the week. Right?

So if you’re constantly eating fresh bread, pizza, ice cream, pastries, takeaway food on the weekend, I really recommend implementing some of those foods through the week as well. And that’s going to look different for everyone. But some examples that I can think of off the cuff would be, can you plan on having a really delicious meal on a Monday night? Or could you plan a sort of lunch that you would have on the weekend? Could you maybe have that on a Wednesday at lunch?

Or maybe there’s a specific chocolate or sweet food that maybe you always eat on the weekend. Maybe you always crave it. Can you have that on a Tuesday night? Or maybe you always have pastries on the weekend. I wonder if you could get some frozen pastries from the supermarket or hop into a coffee shop on your way to work, pick up a pastry.

Could you do that on like a Thursday morning? Just some ways that you can try to bring the foods you have on the weekend through the week. And you might be thinking, well, this isn’t going to help me because then I’m just going to binge on the weekend and I’m eating more through the week. Okay, I hear you that this feels like this would happen, but the thing is, if you continue being like this, it’s never going to change, right? You want to try everything you can to stop binge eating on the weekend.

This, I think, would be a really good idea for you to try. And if it doesn’t work, you can always go back to how you were. Okay? Just because you do this for a little bit doesn’t mean you’re going to do it forever. And maybe it might feel a little bit like out of control for a while.

It might feel a little bit silly, but it’s just something you’re trying and you’re taking a step. So to kind of summarize that first point, the big reason I see people binging on the weekend is that their weekend and their weekdays are very different from food. So I recommend that you find some way to bring some of your weekend food into the week. Okay? That’s going to look different for everyone, but I hope that you can think of some ideas.

All right, number two, this one’s a little bit more. A little bit more serious. So buckle up. All right. So the second reason I see for people binging on the weekend is that food is the only thing that they enjoy.

Okay? If this hits a nerve with you or it makes you think, yes, that’s me. Really normal. And it’s also really normal for food to be like a big part of the weekend. Some weekends really are only about food. You might be like visiting cafes or coffee shops. You might be having a roast on a Sunday. You might kind of plan your weekend on the meals you’re going to eat. This is a really normal behavior because food is connection, it’s enjoyment. And even though in tip one, I said your food on the weekend is more exciting than through the week, it is kind of normal to have more exciting food on the weekend because obviously you’ve got more time, maybe depending on your job and your schedule.

But it makes sense that food is a big part of the weekend. But the thing is, when food becomes all consuming, when it becomes like this huge part of every single weekend, that makes it really stressful. And food can be a really great way to unwind. But if it’s the only thing you have, it can be quite upsetting. And something that many of my clients find is that the only time they seem to be having a good time is when they’re around food.

But then most of them, that comes with guilt, shame, and making up for food after. But in the moment when they’re kind of planning food, eating food, that’s when they’re kind of having the best time. So I wonder, how would your weekends look if you weren’t stuck in this binge routine? Would you pick up a new hobby? Would you want to connect with people?

Would you want to have more time alone? What would you be getting up to? So let me give you a few options. Would you be going to meet a friend for coffee? Would you go out to lunch by yourself and take a book with you?

Would you pick up a new sport like tennis, badminton? Would you go swimming? Would you want to do a creative hobby like painting? Would you learn an instrument? There’s so many things that you could do.

So what would you do if you weren’t stuck in this cycle? And if you don’t know, that’s okay. It can feel like food is your only thing you enjoy or the only thing you have time for. But I would recommend writing a list of a few things you might want to be doing if you had the time and the energy to do it if you weren’t stuck in, binge in. And this could even be something simple like maybe you want to have a Saturday where you really relax on the couch and maybe watch a film.

Or it might be something like you want to get things set up for the week. So you might want to do your laundry, your food shopping. Maybe you want to read a chapter of a book you’ve been trying to read for months. You maybe want to take a drive somewhere. Maybe it’s something to do with taking care of your pets or your kids.

Anything you might want to do. And so what I would recommend for the next weekend that you have where you have more time. Okay, so if you have a big event coming up this weekend, it’s probably not going to work for that. But maybe the next weekend you have coming up where you have a bit of time, even just an hour or so. Or you maybe have the whole weekend, which would be lovely.

I think that it would be a lovely idea for you to Set up a loose routine for next weekend. So this would look something like, I’ll wake up, I’ll have breakfast. You might have a loose idea of what you’d have for breakfast. And then you might say, okay, I am going to. Then this is just an example of random things that I might think of.

So I might go a drive to the beach, and then I might walk on the beach for a bit. I might pick up a coffee and read my book in one of the cafes down by the beach. ) I might take my shopping list with me and go to the supermarket and do my weekly food shop. I then might go home, unpack my shopping, have a little snack and a cup of tea, read some more of my book or do some painting or play a game or something. And then I might settle down and watch a film. And then I might do something else. So I’d really recommend having a bit of a loose plan for the weekend, and I would really encourage you to notice what that brings up for you.So does it fill you with dread to have things that you need to do that aren’t just eating food or waiting to eat food? Do you feel excited to have other things to do? Do you feel just exhausted and you think, I’m not doing anything else? And I wonder if you could be implementing some self care on the weekend as well, because connection with yourself is really key to overcoming binge eating. So I really hope that your next weekend is maybe filled with an activity or two or even.

I guess it’s even just like intentional time that you have for you doing whatever you want to. I hope that that’s helpful to give you an idea of what you might need more of. And so it is quite likely that you will still binge or overeat on the weekend when you do more things. But over time that’s going to dissipate and hopefully you’re going to be filling your cup up with things that aren’t just food. Also, we’re also keeping in mind that actually sometimes the weekend is going to be about food.

And filling your cup can also include food. So we might say you’re going to have a certain snack when you watch a film. You might go out for cake and a coffee. The kind of point here is just for you to have other things that aren’t solely food. Okay? So I hope that’s helpful. And then number three, this is another big thing that I see for people binging on the weekend is that you’re planning on changing your diet on Monday. This is probably the number one reason I hear for people who are trapped in binge eating every single weekend. You tell yourself this is the last binge, but it’s never the last binge because this Sunday night binge really just sets you up to feel guilty on Monday morning. And then you finish work on a Monday and you can’t stop thinking about biscuits in the drawer.

So then you feel even more guilty. You feel like you’ve failed again. It keeps you on this feel like mess up, repent roller coaster, right? Which really is just what we call the diet cycle. And just a note here, you might feel like, oh, I don’t diet. I just kind of eat mindfully. I just eat in moderation, really. Like when we talk about a diet, we’re really just talking about restriction. And restriction, as I’ve mentioned before in this EP, can be physical or it can be mental. So I wonder, you’re listening to this podcast because you don’t want to binge anymore on the weekend.

We know that you want to go into a new week feeling refreshed, ready to take on the week. And so really you feel like every weekend is a ticking time bomb. You’re just waiting until the urge to binge comes. So really, if you want to stop binging on the weekend, this cycle of I’m going to be good on Monday is going to keep you in it. Because really it’s really bringing out this Last supper mentality.

And the Last Supper mentality is really when it’s like, this is my last time to go for it, I’m going to go for it now. And so really long term, what you need to do is let go of this physical and mental restriction. And how do you do that? Well, like I said at the start of this episode, it’s really not a short term fix it’s really a long term game. I would really recommend number one, noticing these dietary and restriction thoughts that come up in your brain.

So how many times per week do you notice yourself thinking, next week I’m going to eat healthy. I should go to the gym more often. Something like by this time next month I could have lost X amount of weight. It’s okay that I eat like crap. This weekend I’ll eat healthier. Monday I’m only going to have a small treat. How many times do you notice yourself saying this? And this is a really good indication of your relationship to food. My second tip to deal with this would be to make sure you’re eating regularly and make sure you’re eating enough food. The best way to make yourself binge is to not eat enough.

The third tip I would give you is to notice what this urge to binge is doing for you. Because this urge to binge is here for a reason. It might be a physical reason, like because you haven’t been eating enough, or because your food through the week is so boring that you need to have nice food on the weekend. It might be mental.

So maybe you are filling your cup with food for a certain reason, or it might be another reason and that’s something that you need to explore in something like one to one support and what I’m going to do for you.

I hope that’s helpful for you. And I really hope this episode was helpful for you on why you might be binge eating at the weekend. And I will talk to you next time in our next episode

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