April 22, 2009

A new study shows that most Americans eat an average of 115 more calories per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday than they do on other days. Those extra 345 calories a weekend easily add up to 5 additional pounds every year. To stay lean when the bar and brunch table beckon, follow these simple strategies.

On FRIDAY Scale back If you know you'll be having a drink or dessert, make it a point to stick to your diet throughout the day. But don't go into the weekend thinking, "I can't have this or I can't have that."

If you adopt the mind-set that it's okay to indulge once in a while, you won't be as likely to binge. Can't help but splurge? Use the three-bite rule: Allow yourself to have just three bites of whatever you're craving on special occasions. You can't possibly blow your diet big-time on three bites of anything. Be sure to get in a workout too-either in the morning or before you head out for the evening. You'll be less likely to want to stray from your diet after having put all that effort in.

On SATURDAY Move on after a night out. Make it a point to do something active first thing: Go to the gym for a yoga class or take a long walk or bike ride. Activity will also help you de-stress after a long week. Get your eating back on track too. Don't adopt that common all-or-nothing thinking and assume the damage is already done so you might as well keep indulging the rest of the weekend. That attitude is what contributes to weight gain.

On SUNDAY Stock up on healthy stuff. Plan nutritious meals for the week ahead (and if you have time, prep some of the dishes today); you won't miss the fattening deli options or fast food you often reach for. (In fact, you'll probably welcome the healthy change!) Buy whole-grain cold cereal or prepackaged oatmeal for easy breakfasts, and portable snacks, like fruit and almonds, to have on hand when that 3 p.m. workweek energy slump hits. If you have access to an office refrigerator, pick up lowfat yogurt and string cheese too.