Studies have shown that people on strict diet and exercise program tend to lose weight more slowly than expected because they ate more on weekends than during the week. Another study found that people eat 40-50 percent more saturated fat on a Saturday or Sunday than the recommended value, all thanks to a diet consisting of pizzas, chocolates, chips, ice cream and cakes.

Weekends may be the time to let loose after a long week at work, but it is important to pay attention to the stuff that you’re eating and the quantity you’re eating at the weekend so that you don’t overeat and ruin all your hard work.

Here’s some advice to help you enjoy your weekend without falling off your healthy eating plan:

1. Start with a plan: If you don’t have a plan, you will end up watching TV and munching on something. So set your schedule on Friday night itself. Make sure your weekends are busy with family activities, socializing with friends, and running errands. Plan your weekend out perfectly, so you know exactly what you are going to eat.

2. Wake up early: Most people have a habit of waking up late on the weekends. But you have to wake up at the same time on the weekends as you do during the week. This way your eating timings are not ruined.

3. Exercise early: Take a walk or go for a bike ride to balance out those extra calories that you will be taking in later. Resist the urge to spend countless hours on the couch. Get the family or friends to go with you.

4. Have breakfast: Start the day with a complete breakfast meal that includes protein and fiber. This will keep you feeling satisfied until lunch. And, since you will not be making frequent visits to the kitchen, this will result in a reduced calorie intake.

5. Avoid alcohol: Alcohol has a lot of empty calories. Instead switch to green tea or plain and simple water. Alcohol also weakens your resolve to make healthy choices when you do sit down to dinner. If it is imperative to have a drink, stick to lower-calorie options such as light beer or wine rather than mixed drinks or cocktails, which can have upwards of 500 calories each.

6. Manage your calories: Many people feel they deserve a treat at weekends after being “good” all week. And for many, that treat is food. But it’s important to pay attention to exactly what you’re eating and the quantity you’re eating on weekends. If you are not careful, even a few treats can easily provide you more calories than you have saved during the week. The golden rule is to make sure you stick to your daily calorie allowance. There are non-food ways also to treat yourself, like catching a movie, meeting a friend for a walk or getting a massage at a spa.

7. Eat less in parties: Instead of grazing the appetizers at weekend parties, portion your appetizers onto a small plate. Otherwise, you may end up in nearly 600 calories you really didn’t mean to eat in the first place. Also, it is a good idea to eat a small protein-rich snack before you leave home for the party. This will help you not to overindulge.

8. Cook yourself: Instead of constant nibbling in front of the TV rather make a meal for your family. Stick to the same low-fat ingredients and cooking methods as you normally would. This way you will be busy and will not binge.

9. Shopping: Weekends are also full of shopping activities. So don’t shop when you are hungry otherwise you will end up bingeing. Also, if possible, shop on Saturday afternoon so that you can stock up for the rest of the weekend and the week ahead.

10. Stay active: Most people are more active on weekdays. The whole routine of going to work requires that people move about. So don’t let exercise slide off just because it is weekend.

And remember, if you have a blowout dinner or graze on weekend at a family party, simply get back on track on the next weekend. So, this week, stop and re-assess how you did last weekend, and make plans to make the next weekend better.