10 Ways to Eat Healthier on the Weekend, According to Dietitians

Making healthier choices on your days off doesn't have to be hard.

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The weekends tend to get tough when it comes to eating healthy. You're not on your weekday schedule, and oftentimes it’s when you fall off the wagon, or find yourself eating more indulgent foods. So how do dietitians make healthy choices even when unhealthy food may be staring them in the face? We asked 10 dietitians to weigh in with their best tips for eating healthy on the weekend.

Schedule a Workout Every Saturday Morning

"For the last 3 years, my husband and I have committed to working out with a personal trainer on Saturday mornings," says Amber Pankonin, a registered dietitian, podcaster and instructor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. So how does this help her with eating healthy? "Knowing that I have to get up early on Saturday helps motivate me to eat healthier on Friday nights, abstain from alcohol and go to bed at a decent time. On Saturday morning, I wake up and eat a light breakfast. After my workout, I feel such a sense of accomplishment that it motivates me even more to continue to make healthy food choices throughout the weekend."

Keep a Healthy and Clean Kitchen Environment

"Healthy eating is easy when you are surrounded by healthy food," says Heather Mangieri, food, fitness and nutrition consultant, and author of Fueling Young Athletes. That is why Mangieri keeps her kitchen stocked! "You can't eat what you don't have, so I purposefully avoid bringing tempting foods in to my house," she explains. That doesn’t mean Mangieri doesn’t eat sweets and other tempting foods, she just makes it harder to get to them. "Getting in my car to drive to the ice cream shop is much more work than opening the freezer and scooping it into a bowl. My rule is, if I want it, I have to go get it."

Schedule Weekly Grocery Shopping for Saturday Morning

Maya Feller, a New York-based dietitian, is at the grocery story by 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. "I am ensuring that my fridge is stocked with healthy balanced options, my pantry staples are replenished and I have fresh seasonal produce on my countertop," she says. "I find when I have appetizing fresh produce at home, I am inspired to cook and eat colorful meals."

Start Every Morning with 20 Grams of Protein

Although busy weekday mornings begin with a protein-, fruit-, and veggie-packed smoothie, weekend breakfasts are more leisurely for Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, national nutrition and weight loss expert. "I start off with protein pancakes made with two ingredients (eggs and banana). It’s a meal that tastes as good as it is physically satisfying," she explains. When we eat, it's just as important to feel content with our food choices as it is to feel physically full. This meal checks both boxes. "I add blueberries and nut butter on top, so there are a variety of flavors and colors that make it even more appetizing."

Buy and Prep Plenty of Vegetables on Sunday

Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, an integrative and culinary dietitian, gives us insight to her Sunday routine. "I chop onions, peppers and carrots that serve as a base for stir-fry, omelets or soups throughout the week, and I roast or sauté whatever vegetables are in season. With a ton of vegetables done, I can quickly pull together a meal." And most Sundays you can find Moore whipping out her pressure cooker for a batch of beans.

Get At Least 30 Minutes of Purposeful Movement Each Day

This means getting in at least 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday, which can be a challenge. "As a mom of active boys, their activities have started to creep in on my standard Saturday gym time," Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD, CSSD, CPT of Make Healthy Easy and Off-Season Athlete says. "I know that getting exercise in of some kind keeps me anchored to my healthy lifestyle." With similar reasoning to Pankonin, fitting in regular exercise and meaningful movement encourages other behaviors to fall into place including healthy eating. "Come Monday morning I don't feel like I'm starting over or getting back on the wagon," Braddock explains.

Keep Splurges Reasonable

Amy Goodson, a Dallas-based registered dietitian and consultant, says that even though she may splurge Friday and Saturday nights, she still keeps it within reason. "If I want a higher calorie appetizer like spinach and artichoke dip with chips, I will aim for a salad with salmon for dinner." Goodson also recommends that everyone enjoy dessert at least once a week, and opts to share to help manage portions.

Don’t Skip Meals

Many folks tend to skip breakfast or lunch in anticipation of going out to dinner on the weekends. "This is a no-no for me," says Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, New York-based culinary nutrition expert and author of 52-Week Meal Planner. "In addition to eating breakfast and lunch, I often even have a snack before I go out, this way I'm not famished when I get to the dinner table." Plus, Levinson explains that "eating throughout the day keeps my metabolism going and helps prevent cocktails or wine going straight to my head, which can lead to making poor food choices and overeating."

Eat Together as a Family

Christy Wilson, nutrition counselor at University of Arizona Campus Health Service and the owner of Christy Wilson Nutrition, makes time on weekends to sit down with her a family. "Weekends are typically the days of the week I have more flexibility with my time for grocery shopping and cooking, so I try my best to take advantage of this!" While it can be tempting to eat out all weelend long, Wilson says that having a fully stocked pantry and fridge encourages her to make healthful meals at home for the whole family.

Stay On Track with Meal Timing

Although weekends lack the structure that the workweek provides, it’s important to stay on track with meal timing. "I always eat breakfast, lunch and dinner — though they may be at slightly different times than during the week," says Ginger Hultin, RD, owner of ChampagneNutrition. This provides some stability so you won't find yourself skipping meals. "Even if it's a brunch with friends, grab-and-go lunch or a celebratory dinner out, I make sure to get regular meals in when I'm out and about on the weekends," explains Hultin.

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