Ugh… it happened again. Despite your best intentions, stress, social events, or plain old mindlessness turned your weekend into a gorge-fest on nachos and cake. No one feels their best after overdoing it. Bloating and lethargy set in, draining you physically. Overeating can wreak havoc on your emotions too, as feelings of shame and regret weigh you down. How do you bounce back to feel better now and prevent overeating from happening again in the future? (Or at least keep it from happening very often — Thanksgiving dinner might get a free pass.)
We spoke to several registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) to get their best tips on how to get back on track health-wise after overeating. Overwhelmingly, they emphasized treating yourself with compassion, listening to your body, and taking a few simple steps to rectify the temporary damage of eating too much. See their tips below.
1. Do some soul searching. It may seem like your proximity to the bread bowl was the primary reason behind your binge, but there may be a deeper cause. Take some time to consider what triggers may have contributed. Putting your finger on an emotional issue like work stress or relationship tensions may help you forgive yourself (as well as open the door to addressing any underlying issues).
If there appears to be no emotional origin, reflect on the circumstances of your day. “If the overindulgence was because of lack of nutrition earlier in the day — busy momming or just running around — try to meal plan and pack snacks for yourself to avoid this pitfall,” says Yaffi L’vova, RDN. Likewise, ask yourself what environmental cues might have led you to overdo it. Was everyone around you overeating, or did clever restaurant psychology get the best of you? Armed with these insights, you can make better choices next time.
2. Put it in perspective. In the regret-filled after hours of a food hangover, it’s all too easy to beat yourself up, believing you totally blew it. But in reality, you can’t ruin your health in one meal. “Recognize that one meal isn’t the end of the world and you can trust your body to know how to process it,” says Jenna Gorham, RDN. Besides, maybe your overindulgence was one element of a truly enjoyable social event. If so, “smile and enjoy the memories,” says L’vova. Recognize that you’re only human, and that your body can handle a bit of excess here and there.
3. Try some gentle damage control. The obvious solution to overeating in the short-term is, of course, physical activity. Getting active not only burns some excess calories but also releases endorphins, helping you feel more positive and resilient. “I encourage a short walk — nothing too brisk that can be uncomfortable — but to get up and move,” recommends Sarah Marjoram, RDN, LD. Other options for light exercise include stretching, bike riding, or dancing.
In the days following an overindulgence, listen to your body’s cues to take it easy food-wise for a little while (but don’t deprive yourself by skipping meals!). “Drink plenty of water or dandelion tea to flush the system and eat lots of water-rich veggies like cucumbers, celery, and leafy greens for a reset,” says Stefanie Dove, RDN, SNS.
4. Plan for the future. Thankfully, tomorrow is another day — full of healthy possibilities. “Think of the next meal as an opportunity. Keep hydrated and reach for nutritious, whole foods like fresh produce, healthy fats, and lean meats,” says Stephanie Wagner, RDN, LDN. If your weekend eating has got you down, meal plan nutritious options for the week ahead. Or pencil in time in your schedule to work out in the coming days.
Finally, the next time you know you’re headed into a situation involving overeating triggers, try writing down some food goals beforehand, or ask a friend to keep you accountable. Research shows these practices increase the likelihood of our success. With a bit of mindful awareness, you’ll strike the right balance to eat just enough — and enjoy every bite.
How do you get back on track after overeating? Tweet us at @BritandCo!
(Photo via Getty)