Feast/Famine Fads Threatening Women’s Health


British women could be seriously damaging their health by sticking to strict diets during the week and binging at weekends, a report issued this week suggests.

Researchers have discovered a feast or famine culture, with the majority of young women aged 18 to 40 (80 %) restricting their diet during the week, only to overindulge at the weekends on junk food and alcohol. It’s scary stuff for busy Belle About Town readers and writers alike.

Unsurprisingly, the survey showed Monday is the day women consume the least, with as many as one in ten consuming as little as 1,000 calories on the first day of the week. A further one in twenty stick to a dangerously low calorie intake of 500 calories a day from Monday through to Thursday. But on a typical weekend, the majority of women (83 %) admitted they over indulge, with one in ten consuming 3,000 calories per weekend day (average)  – with a further one in twenty admitting to binging on 4,000 calories or more on a Saturday or Sunday.

In terms of alcohol consumption – the average number of drinks consumed on a typical weekend evening (3 drinks) was more than three times the amount drunk on an average week night (less than 1 drink, 0.7). Although we have to admit that three glasses a night at the weekend seems a little modest – and wonder if some of those questioned were being totally honest!

Nutritionist Karen Poole analysed the data. She said:  “For many of us the weekend is typically a time to kick back, relax, catch up with friends and enjoy a little indulgence.  Sometimes though it can simply mean too much of a good thing. If, at the weekend, you ramp up your junk food calorie, refined carbohydrate and alcohol intake, then you are looking at a potential sugar overload and your body will have to work hard to deal with the major increase in blood glucose levels, storing any excess for the future. Bodies function better with a regular varied diet of lean protein, essential fat and fresh vegetables providing a rich supply of vitamins and minerals.”

The report also revealed that a weekend of excess leaves 47% of women feeling tired and ill-equipped to deal with the busy week ahead. We can associate with that one!

The triggers for entering into a “binge” were also revealed, including a stressful week at work (40 %), office cakes and treats (18 %), a Friday takeaway (24 %) and a Saturday morning fry up or bacon sandwich (27 %).

Some 83% admitted that on the whole, they are guilty of weekend excess when it comes to food and alcohol. And a further 77% said they wished they were more moderate with their health habits and indulgences.

A spokeswoman for Spatone, which commissioned the survey among 2,000 British women, said: ‘’The working week can be long and tiring enough but if you’re also not eating a consistently healthy and balanced diet you may find your energy levels might suffer as you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals to maintain normal energy function.

“Allocating time for rest, healthy eating and exercise throughout the week rather than dieting at the beginning of the week and then becoming unhealthy towards the weekend, can make it much easier to maintain energy levels and reduce tiredness and fatigue. Those who can’t get their iron requirements from dietary sources alone could consider taking a natural food iron supplement like Spatone.”

Emily Cleary

Emily Cleary

After almost a decade chasing ambulances, and celebrities, for Fleet Street’s finest, Emily has taken it down a gear and settled for a (slightly!) slower pace of life in the suburbs. With a love of cheese and fine wine, Emily is more likely to be found chasing her toddlers round Kew Gardens than sipping champagne at a showbiz launch nowadays, or grabbing an hour out of her hectic freelancer’s life to chill out in a spa while hubby holds the babies. If only!


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