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Midweek treat puts brakes on weekend binge

Stress-related eating: everyone loves cheesecake but by giving yourself little treats a couple of nights during the week, there is less temptation to lapse at the weekend

This weekend was very stressful for me as I received some saddening news. I unconsciously reached for the chocolates to fulfil that emotional craving; to replace the sadness with feelings of sugary sweet happiness.

However, with emotional eating everything goes out the window and the initial comfort turns into regret and guilt. Do you ever use food as a reward? Are you stressed about work and find yourself unconsciously eating?

After a wonderful week of eating well, everything starts to change on the weekend. You feel so guilty for eating this or that, your resolve and willpower is gone.

How can you care for yourself, be compassionate to your body and create balance? Let’s start with not setting extremely high expectations of ourselves. Don’t aim for perfection or rely on willpower. Start with consistency.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to wake up on Monday feeling grateful, full of energy and not filled with depression or regret because you consumed johnny bread/cupcakes/ice cream/chips/cocktails or whatever your weekend stress-related food may be.

You owe it to yourself to give yourself the best shot at a healthy life. The way you treat your body has a reflection on your entire life.

What about allowing yourself one homemade cookie with your lunch on Monday? Or allow yourself a couple pieces of dark chocolate after dinner or a glass of wine with dinner once or twice during the week. By the time the weekend rolls around, ordering dessert on a night out doesn’t seem all that appealing because you don’t feel the need to be “naughty”. When you feel the stress approaching how about going for a walk or a run? Or just get out of the house or office to avoid reaching for the stress-related trigger foods.

I’m not saying you want to start eating unhealthy foods but by allowing “naughty” foods throughout the week, they’re not as appealing when the weekend comes or when you feel stressed. You’ve allowed yourself to relax and refocus but still have boundaries.

Try making the distinction between healthy and unhealthy so that you understand that being extremely restrictive throughout the week can lead to unhappiness and unsuccessful planning. Rigidity does not make anyone happy. Striving for perfection will only frustrate you in the long run. Be kind to yourself and strive for balance.

Next time you crave cheesecake as an antidote to a stressful week stop and think about it. Recognise that you deserve to love and look after yourself, and a piece of cheesecake or a bag of chips isn’t capable of doing either.

Agree to eat healthy and nutritious foods 80 per cent of the time and allow delicious treats for your soul during the other 20 per cent. If you aren’t there yet, don’t stress. You will get there. You don’t need to be all or nothing. Just start and believe in yourself. Believe you are worth it and B-Active For Life.

• Betty Doyling is a certified fitness trainer and figure competitor with more than a decade of experience. Check her out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/B.ActiveForLife