Even health experts get tempted by heavy brunches and nutty hours on the weekend. But as these three Atlanta dietitians will tell you, it's possible to make choices that are both healthful and delicious on Saturdays and Sundays, too. Here's what they eat when the weekend rolls around:
Caitlin S. Russell, MS, RDN, LD, CLT: More creative, time-consuming dishes
Russell implements practical solutions for the dietary treatment of food-sensitive clients and is also experienced with adult weight loss. At home with her family on weekends, she likes to try creative recipes to expand their healthy and tasty meal options.
"Weekends are usually more relaxed than weekday mornings in my house so that's when I like to take my time and try new recipes that seemed too daunting during the busy week," she said.
She starts every day by drinking two glasses of water. "That way I've got a head start on my water intake for the day," she said. "Hot tea is part of my morning ritual so I'll brew a cup of black tea and add some almond or coconut milk to drink while I make breakfast."
For weekend dinners, she may try a lasagna with a twist on traditional ingredients. "Our family eats lower carb, so I'll swap out regular lasagna noodles for roasted deli turkey slices or strips of zucchini," she said. "It sounds weird but it's totally delicious!"
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She also loves to grill, so weekend meals might involve marinating protein like chicken breasts or pork tenderloin with garlic, mustard and balsamic vinegar. They'll grill alongside veggies like asparagus, sliced squash and sweet potato wedges.
"My girls like grilled pineapple slices or grilled peach halves for something sweet at dinner," she said.
The family also has a new fire pit. "Now that the weather's cooling off, my girls like to roast marshmallows for s'mores," Russell said. "This is a special treat. My husband and I usually share one so we can have a taste of something sweet but not worry about getting off track with our health goals."
Weekends or weekdays, Russell said she strives for balance. "We eat well 90 percent of the time and enjoy a treat the other 10 percent," she said.
Margaret Schwenke, CEPC, CHHC: Fundamentally whole food
Schwenke helps clients cope with emotional eating and coaches weight-loss, willpower and mindfulness techniques. She said her weekend meal approach is much the same as weekdays.
"I don't vary weekend eating too much," she said. "The fundamental of eating whole food remains the same. It's just that the weekend provides for a little more fun and frivolity!"
Schwenke's breakfast on weekends is a balance of protein, whole grains and healthy fat. "I find that this combination keeps me full and energized for my mid-morning yoga class," she said. "Two eggs, steel-cut oats with peanut butter and cacao have been a recent favorite."
Schwenke usually gets a little hungry late morning, so she'll nosh on a piece of fruit or some almonds or make a smoothie if she's home. "I love smoothies as a way to get more greens in during the weekend when I might not be as likely to eat greens," she said.
Her weekend lunch consists of a salad at home or out. "Lately Mexican's been on my mind," she said. "It's always a good time for a guacamole fiesta! Greens, black beans, chicken, pico, cilantro and guacamole are delicious and also satisfying and sustaining."
Dinner is almost always some sort of fish or fowl. "If I'm meeting friends out, I'll look for grilled salmon on the menu," she said. "A restaurant will usually serve that alongside sauteed veggies and even if that's not on the menu, most restaurants will accommodate me if I ask. If I enjoy a glass of wine, I usually have it with food so it doesn't spike my blood sugar as much as it would if I consume it alone."
Schwenke encourages her clients not to vary too much from healthy eating on weekends. "It's definitely possible to maintain good choices during the weekend," she said.
Rachel Brandeis, MS, RD: Breakfast for sure
Brandeis graduated from Emory University in Atlanta and earned a graduate degree in community nutrition from Georgia State University. She said right up front that weekend eating can present a challenge because that's when you're out of the "normal" weekday routine.
To minimize unhealthy choices on a chaotic or inactive weekend, Brandeis starts both Saturday and Sunday with breakfast. "That anchors my day," she said. "If I skip breakfast, then I tend to be off schedule with my eating and more likely to snack instead of eat defined meals."
Brandeis said breakfast is a must no matter what time she wakes up on the weekend. "I usually opt for a high-fiber cereal blend with fruit and skim milk," she said. "If breakfast is later than normal, I will push lunch and dinner back, too. The goal is to stay as close to my weekday eating pattern as I can."