It’s the weekend again and I’m entering the danger zone. During the week I enjoy a low-carb life-style that leaves me full and satisfied and without the urge to binge – even if there’s candy or other goodies nearby. Because my workdays are fairly structured, it’s easy to stay on track and get on with my life.
The problem arises, when Friday evening rolls around – yes, Friday evening, when my family and I want to kick off the weekend and have some fun. Hmmm, let’s start with dinner and a movie, perhaps? What about Pizza night? How about saving some dishes, anyone feel like Chinese or Mexican food tonight?
Every week I still struggle with these old habits – all of them involve food, if you haven’t noticed – and to me are triggers that usually end in an all weekend binge. The same thing happens during vacations. So what’s the big deal? Everybody eats more when they’re having fun or have some time off. Sure, I agree that there’s nothing wrong with eating more during those times or at birthday parties, or what have you, except, something happens in my mind after I eat something sweet or bready, that makes me want to eat more and more. During a full –blown binge, I check the fridge and cupboards for something to eat every 10 minutes, knowing damn well that nothing new magically appeared since the last time I checked. I go to the store to buy sweets, chips, ice-cream, pizza, or whatever I feel like I want to binge on in the next 24-48 hours, and nothing can deter me from doing so.
The Problem: On my off-days, I’m confronted with challenges that make it difficult to stick to my now normal way of eating (low-carb). When I cave in and eat some highly processed foods, I feel really good for about an hour, then I get terrible cravings for sweet stuff as my blood sugar drops. Soon after, I don’t feel so happy anymore and get shaky and irritated. To make me feel better quickly, I eat more sweet stuff and this nasty cycle continues until I go back to work on Monday and fall back into my normal rhythm. I believe that there are at least 3 forces at play that attribute to my weekend binges:
- Environmental: Tempting food and well meaning people make it tough to say no to foods that get me in trouble.
- Biochemical: Blood sugar levels drop when I do eat something that causes my insulin level to spike (I’m not diabetic) and causes major cravings.
- Behavioral: Being unprepared for situations that may trigger my binging, then acting on cravings / urges without thinking of the consequences (or pushing these thoughts away).
What I’ve learned:
- A low-carb lifestyle lessens my urge to binge.
The Challenge: To stay binge-free this weekend.
My Strategies: Here’s what I’m focusing on this weekend to stay on track:
- At home, eat plenty of low-carb foods, such as veggies, good fat and meat, to avoid insulin spikes and cravings
- Eat a filling low-carb meal before we leave the house, so I will not be hungry.
- Bring a snack – like pecans or beef jerky – just in case
- When tempted, remind myself that going off plan is not worth the emotional roller-coaster and physical side-effects that accompany a binge. Acknowledge that the food smells and looks good, but then tell myself that I really don’t want to start another binge cycle, then move on to something I can eat or want to do instead.
Post – Weekend Update:
YES!!! I MADE IT!!! I stayed on track all weekend without any issues. This is very unusual for me, as I seem to spin myself into this binge-cycle every weekend. For those of you who are curious, here are some details on how I managed to survive the weekend danger zone:
On Friday, I was pretty wiped out after work, so instead of indulging in some off-plan treats, I simply went to bed early and listened to my favorite podcasts on my iPod to lull me to sleep.
I started my Saturday morning by making a batch of low-carb pancakes (see recipe below), along with regular pancakes for the rest of the family. Those things almost taste like the real thing with a slight nutty hint. But dang, they are so filling!!! I didn’t want to eat for several hours after eating those puppies. To keep me occupied until we were ready to leave the house, I decided to work on fine-tuning this new blog, which took quite a chunk of the day. Amazingly, eating was quite low on my priority list. Later in the evening, we went to a little fest (village celebration) in our neighboring town here in Germany. I volunteered to be the DD (designated driver) and had a couple of small bottles of mineral water, instead of beer. This fest is famous for its awesome grilled fish (Germans love that stuff) and one of those mackerels easily fill me up for the night. When the man at the register asked me if I would like to order a roll with the fish, I declined. He looked at me funny, but I told him that the fish itself was plenty to eat already.
Today (Sunday), we spent the morning being lazy. After eating that big ol’ fish the night before, I just decided to snack a bit until I was really hungry. Later in the afternoon, we went to a nearby volksfest (like a fair). Before we decided what to eat for dinner, we scoped out all the booths, to see who offered the most appealing and low-carb friendly meals. I decided to go with a plate of Greek gyros with tzatziki and krautsalad (see picture). I’ve had better before and it definitely was lacking flavor, but it was primal, so no issues there. After our meal, I got a whiff of freshly roasted nuts. Those usually do me in. Oh I was so tempted! But instead of breaking down and buy a baggy, I took in the sweet, rich smell, stopped a second to enjoy the moment and then was ready to move on the next attraction without feeling deprived. If you’d ask me, I’d call this weekend a success!
To my readers: I’m curious if some of you are struggling with the same weekend / binge issues. If so, I’d love to hear from you and see what works for you. Please leave comment below.