We’re conscious of how much we should eat during the big food holidays, but what about those late-night snacking slip-ups that could send us spiraling out of control? Even if you’re just mindlessly munching while watching television, splurge eating can have gut-busting repercussions that affect both the body and mind. Fortunately, all is not lost in your diet after a few days (or just one night) of overdoing it. You can pick up where you left off before giving in to that last cookie with these five easy tips.
Maybe you looked up last night and realized you’d eaten an entire bag of chips, when you only planned to eat a handful. Or perhaps, you went a little overboard during the weekend and had one too many wings, pizza slices, or cups of beer.
Don’t stress! Overeating happens to the best of us, no matter how stringent we are with dieting and keeping our calories in check. If you got off track for one night or a few days, that doesn’t mean you’ll wake up the next morning facing a big weight gain or a major health scare.
The key is to not give up and skip meals in an effort to undo the damage. Instead of feeling dejected, create a positive mindset for yourself to bounce back. These five tips will help you quickly rebound and get your motor running again after a food splurge.
Establish a Recovery Meal Plan
- Breakfast - It’s a good idea to resume your normal eating habits and routine after going overboard for a day or two. This means having a satisfying (not heavy) breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. Be mindful of how you feel, and only eat your first meal of the day when you actually begin to get hungry. Eating breakfast helps set the tone for a healthful day of eating and also prepares you mentally to stick with eating regular meals throughout the day.
- Lunch - You’ll want to follow up breakfast with a light lunch during the mid-day to combat that sluggish, food-hangover feeling. Pair fresh veggies with complex carbs and a serving of protein, like in our Tuna-Quinoa Toss, to keep you satisfied and full.
- Afternoon Snack - Curb afternoon hunger pangs and keep your metabolism going with a healthy snack. Long stretches of time without eating can cause blood sugar to plummet, contributing to low energy, a tendency toward cravings, and potential overeating.
- Dinner - Cook wholesome meals at home, like fish, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help you avoid reaching for processed foods or dining out at restaurants where you have no control over the portion size or sodium content.
We can’t stress enough the significance of drinking water the day after you overeat. Staying hydrated will help ward off cravings, which could potentially lead to another episode of overeating.
Phone a Friend
Most of the time we overeat out of boredom or loneliness, not hunger. If your latest food bender was triggered by these feelings, contact friends or family for consolation and companionship. We’re always conscious of how we feed our bodies, but sometimes we deprive ourselves of another healthy component: emotional sustenance. On the contrary, if you tend to stress-eat during social gatherings or family holiday celebrations, you may need to push back from the table and get some alone time.
Sweat it Out
Getting a good sweat in will make you feel so much better, both mentally and physically. Start out with a light workout like walking, yoga, or smaller weights until you build up enough energy to tackle more intense sweat sessions.
Find a Distraction
Let go of the guilt, consider all the factors that may have contributed to you overeating, and accept it as a moment of temporary weakness—in that order. Here’s the thing. No one, but you, will remember (or care) that you ate two slices of cake instead of one. Since you can't change what's already been done, you have to move on and start fresh for the next meal. Go for a walk, ride a bike, volunteer, or read a book. Whatever you do, keep busy doing the things you enjoy that will occupy your mind, so you’re not thinking about food or your mistakes.
It’s totally okay to forgive yourself for having a human moment of indulgence and overdoing it. The important thing is to not wallow in despair and eat your feelings. No, it’s time to shake it off and get right back on the healthy-eating horse to jump-start your week!