I bet a lot of you know the feeling, you grab a handful of a snack at a or just a bite and suddenly it turns into many, many, many bites, handfuls, etc. and you realized you have overindulged. Or maybe just going out to eat you have overeaten a lot or just eaten too much. It happens. I’m not going to lie and pretend it doesn’t happen to me–it just did this past weekend with lucky charms. (Also not going to lie and pretend admitting that was easy, hey I’m human). But when this happens people often think they need to restrict the next day or rest of day, starve themselves, workout for hours, (especially if you’ve ever struggled with an ED) etc. when instead there are a few things that are crucial to do to help you! I want to share some of those tips today to help you realize that you didn’t “fall off track” or “lose anything”. I want to help you make choices to continue a healthy happy lifestyle no matter what!
1. Return to your normal eating routine
The biggest thing you DON’T want to do is restrict, starve, or not eat the next day or the rest of the day. Since a lot of this happens at night, it’s most likely the next day, but it could be the rest of the day too. I’m not saying you have to force food down your throat if you aren’t hungry, but restricting only puts you and your mindset in a bad place. Keep eating, eat like you would filling yourself with wholesome, nutritious foods and go on like normal. Hopefully you’re choosing to eat healthier foods anyway, but if you did overindulge you do want to try to get your micros in (fruits and lots of veggies). Also, protein helps keep you feeling fuller as does complex carbs (brown rice, whole wheat, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, etc.) so try filling most of your diet with those.
2. Drink water
If you overeat, especially things with lots of sodium like chips, processed foods, or most things at a restaurant, you will likely retain water and look and feel a bit more bloated. This can scare people into thinking they’ve gained a lot of fat/weight overnight when in reality most of it is water. After overindulging, make sure you continued drinking lots of water (at least 8 glasses or more) to stay hydrated and flush your system out. This will help you feel much better the next few days.
While I mentioned that it’s important to not think you have to go in the gym and run for hours, it is a good idea to get some movement in. For example, the morning after my lucky charms indulgence, I went for a 20 minute easy walk around my area. Nothing big, I didn’t run until I had burned X amount of calories, I just let my body move a little to help me feel healthier and help my body digest and get things moving. Whatever that may look like for you, a little bit of exercise and movement will do you good.
4) Don’t feel guilty
This is probably the biggest piece of advice I could give you. Coming from a place where every “treat” and indulgence (even if it wasn’t “too much”) left me feeling guilty, and overindulging was an even worse feeling, feeling guilty makes it worse! Then, your mind and body makes you feel bad, over-exercise, under-eat, etc. and it is an unhealthy mindset to get into. The best thing to do after overindulging is figure out why, and what you can do next time to prevent it. Were you bored? Next time you feel bored/hungry, go outside and do something or occupy your mind elsewhere. Emotional eating? Try talking to someone or finding another way to cope. Restricting yourself during the week? Find the balanced way to enjoy treats during your everyday life. At a restaurant? Practice choosing smaller portions, boxing up half your meal, not ordering an app, dinner and dessert, etc. Find a way to help yourself in the future without feeling guilty because guess what, crap happens! It’s life, you live, learn and move on.
Those are my top tips for when you overindulge. It happens, but it’s important to know how to take care of your body afterwards so that you can continue living a healthy and happy lifestyle that works for you!