Bad Advice: Binging on the weekend

April 28, 2008 at 3:44 pm (advice, binging, diets, disordered eating)

I want to start doing a theme where I take advice column questions and answer the answers. Today’s question comes from About.com
Weekend Diet Traps

I eat a healthy diet Monday through Friday, but on the weekends, it’s no holds barred. How do I bring in the reins?
…Your mindless weekend binge just ruined an entire week of healthy eating. Then the guilt sets in. You get back to your routine diet on Monday, feeling bad and vowing to eat right next weekend. But then Friday comes around and the whole cycle starts all over again. …

Your mindless weekend binge ruining an entire week of healthy eating is one way of looking at it. However, what if you aren’t “being bad”? What if your body is desperately trying to make up the calories you’ve been denying it all week by being “good”?

Most of the “tips” in the article have to do with face-stuffing and offer helpful suggestions like “don’t keep food in the house” (ok, I’m exagerating slightly) and “don’t order vast amounts of food at restaurants… if you do, don’t eat it all.” They push fruits and veggies, under the asumption that you’re not eating them at home, I guess. And then there’s the slide into disordered territory. Log everything you eat. Keep track of every calorie consumed, every bite you take. Hungry? Take a walk to distract yourself! You’ll burn calories, too! Want one thing? Have another! Have some fruit. It’s mostly water and fiber.

Nowhere does it address the actual problem, which is a repeat pattern of binge behavior. Nowhere do they ask “are you really binging, or just not dieting? And if you are binging, what’s the reason behind it? What’s causing it? What aren’t you getting that you’re trying to replace with food?

I also don’t like the assumption that a “healthy” diet is one that’s bad or boring. It’s very possible to eat healthily and enjoy your food. In fact, that should be the default… enjoyment of food. Scandalous, I know. But what happens when you don’t enjoy your food during the week? You stick your face in a pie on the weekend. Yeah. That’s healthy.

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