Whether you are someone who is recovering from a pattern of cyclical over eating or indulged in one margarita too many on vacation, you did not invent the concept over going overboard every now and then. Unfortunately, the impact of over eating can feel discouraging both physically and mentally. Now that you downed the entire bag of chips, enough ice cream for a family of four, and topped off the jar of peanut butter —you may feel as though spending the rest of the week in your largest sweatpants is a solid life plan.
Although elastic life may sound tempting at first, eventually the horror and panic starts to set in. More than likely, there is no permanent damage done. Although there are negative consequences and a whole lot of discomfort associated with overeating, there are solutions to avoid over eating in the future as well as making sure the temporary weight gain, bloating and discouragement are just that (temporary).
It is important to know that it often takes up to 72 hours after over eating to feel like your old self again. Rather than trying to compensate or punish yourself (which typically leads to additional negative eating behaviors or another over eating episode), allow yourself to forgive and forget by using the tools below!
- Once the damage is done, clear your pantry of anything creating temptation around food. Sometimes even having an open box of crackers can set off triggers or lead down a slippery snacking slope. Free yourself of any temptation and fill your fridge with healthy and nutrient dense options that will encourage you to look and feel your best.
- Make a plan! Acknowledge what happened, evaluate why it happened and make a plan of action to avoid it in the future. Being accountable to yourself in this way encourages self reflection and can lead to positive strides once you have identified some of your over eating culprits. Creating a strategy moving forward can reduce the frequency of overeating as well as better equipping you for future temptation filled events.
- Get moving! Do NOT head straight to the gym and perform hours of cardio to off set the damage. It’s truly not necessary and will only make you feel worse. Instead, plan the week ahead including your meals, workouts, and whatever else you need to feel in control and confident moving forward. Additionally, go for walks! Walking is a great way to improve digestion, release endorphins, ease stress and can improve your overall health simply by honoring your body’s need to be active.
- Drink extra water. Water will help your body flush any toxins, additional water weight, etc. that is weighing you down post indulgence. Often times an episode of over eating includes copious amounts of sodium and fiber, depending on the weapon (food) of choice. The more you drink, the faster your body will flush! 128 oz per day is a great hydration goal. If you are already consuming that on a regular basis, aim for 175. Cheers!
- Stay busy! Often times your hunger cues will be thrown off after lots of overeating (or sometimes only a little). It is important to know that as long as you are providing your body with nutrient dense meals that are spaced evenly throughout the day, this can often be your mind playing tricks on you. When we consume large amounts of sugar, carbohydrates or salt, the brain will release dopamine and activate your pleasure / reward sensors in your brain. Although this can feel confusing and as though you need MORE food, don’t let it fool you. Try drinking hot tea, work on a project, or leave the house if temptation is high and you feel like you are going to eat through the wall. Your hunger will level off. This is your body’s way of attempting to sort through what happened. Implementing a rule such as “the kitchen is closed” can also prevent you from caving in or eating more than you truly need. Determine a time at which you will be finished eating for the day and leave the kitchen. You will feel better the next day and your body will happily respond to a more familiar eating routine.