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Ate Too Much? Here’s How to Feel Better ASAP

Credit: PhotoAlto/Alix Minde/Getty

The deliciousness of party food and the pain of overeating often go hand in hand. What tastes great in the moment—indulgent appetizers here, an extra cookie there—can feel awful the next day, if consumed in excess.

“The day after an overindulgence may make you feel tired or bloated and your system may feel sluggish,” says Susan Bowerman, registered dietitian at Herbalife Nutrition. “You might also be feeling as if you’ve lost your way or that you won’t be able to get yourself back on track.”

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Yet in reality, one night of overindulgence is just one night of overindulgence—and it needn’t morph into more. Here, Bowerman and three other experts share simple things you can do the day after a big feast to feel refreshed and energized, both physically and mentally.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Your first order of business after rousing from that food coma? Drink plenty of water. The liquid will be absorbed by any soluble fiber in your system and act like a gel to push last night’s meal through the digestive tract, says Angela Onsgard, R.D. and resident nutritionist at Miraval Arizona. In other words, it will reduce a bloated belly by helping you poop.

Down a detox elixir.

In additional to guzzling plain old H2O, you can get your insides feeling better with a simple water-based detox elixir. Simply warm a mug of water and add slices of fresh ginger, lemon zest, and a splash of raw apple cider vinegar, suggests Annessa Chumbley, registered dietitian and nutrition consultant to Premier Protein. The ginger can tame a gurgly stomach, the lemon zest delivers a good source of antioxidants, and the raw apple cider vinegar brings probiotics to your gut, which may help combat post-feast bloating.

Maintain perspective.

On the mental front, a common response after a big night of eating is to severely restrict your food intake and/or over-exercise to “make up for” yesterday’s overindulgence. Yet this black-or-white frame of mind often backfires, leading to bingeing, explains Dr. Ariane Machin, psychologist and co-founder of the Conscious Coaching Collective, which includes a program called The Food Shift that helps individuals with their mindset around emotional eating.

So though you may feel bloated, over-sugared, and otherwise unhealthy in the minutes and hours after a large meal, remind yourself that “one day of enjoying special occasion food is not going to derail all health habits or significantly impact weight gain,” explains Machin.

A more productive mental approach is to adopt a positive mindset that places the perceived overindulgence on a continuum. “Even though did not really eat like had wanted, today is a new day and can make different choices,” says Machin. These choices aren’t centered on restriction, but rather on taking care of both your body and mind. Think about the foods and activities that naturally energize you, and act accordingly.

Sip a healthy smoothie.

Once you’re properly hydrated and ready for breakfast, opt for something healthy and light-yet-filling, like a smoothie with fresh greens (think baby spinach or baby kale), fruit (like mango, orange or pineapple), fresh or powdered ginger, protein powder, and coconut water, suggests Bowerman. The ginger will soothe your digestive system; the fruits, veggies and coconut water will help you rehydrate; and the protein powder will help keep you full until your next meal. What’s more, starting your day off with this good-for-you meal will help you feel like you’re mentally back on track, she adds.

Craving something more solid? Make a bowl of oatmeal with berries, nuts, and seeds, suggests Onsgard. In general, it’s ok to go lighter at meals in the wake of a day of overindulgence, she adds, just as long as you’re not skipping meals. As explained above, that could trigger another bout of bingeing.

If you’ve overindulged, read these stories next:

  • Why We Drink More Alcohol During the Winter, According to Science
  • What to Do After Eating Too Much Salt
  • What to Do After Eating Too Much Sugar

Take a walk.

Follow your healthy breakfast with a brisk 30 to 45 minute walk, says Bowerman. This physical activity will help stimulate the smooth muscles in your lower digestive tract and thus encourage your GI system to run smoothly and regularly (AKA more pooping). The fresh air and sunlight can raise your energy levels, and you’ll also likely feel better knowing you are taking literal steps forward with your health.

Incorporate produce.

Throughout the day, aim to eat at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal, says Bower, as produce is low in calories and high in potassium and water. “Fluids and potassium help your body get rid of excess sodium, which can help you feel less bloated,” she explains. On top of that, vegetables are rich in fiber, which will help keep you regular, and antioxidants, which can help repair some of the free radical damage caused by overindulging, adds Onsgard.

Get fishy.

Have a serving of fish, like tuna flaked over a green salad for lunch, or grilled salmon for dinner, says Bowerman. Why? Fish is an excellent source of B-complex vitamins, which your body uses to turn the foods you eat into energy, and also helps you metabolize alcohol, she explains.

Change your vocabulary.

Rather than believing your night of merriment has set you down a path on which it will be difficult to backtrack, use the words ‘shift’ or ‘pivot’ and visualize yourself making a turn in your eating and movement habits, says Machin. This simple change in vocabulary can help you accept the fact that you both enjoyed the evening of eating and that you can enjoy the next day by making different choices.

That said, if you find yourself feeling negative emotions in response to your indulgence—whether that be guilt, shame, regret, annoyance, or any other feeling(s)—embrace them, says Machin. Examine these feelings to understand what might have triggered them, she explains, and then wield that analysis to better manage your response to a similar situation in the future.

Let’s just lay all our cards on the table: You’ve had food hangovers, and we’ve had food hangovers.

Sure, you may call it by another name, but you know the symptoms intimately: bloating, lethargy, maybe a little nausea or stomach upset, with a general feeling of blah thrown in for good measure. And you know the cause: not drinking too much but eating too much—overindulging in food that’s too fatty, salty, spicy, sugary, caffeinated, or simply voluminous for your body to cope with the following morning.

For us, it’s an occupational hazard. For you, it’s probably a reminder you had a great night out. But for all of us, it’s something we want to be rid of as quickly as possible.

Though we at BA have our drawers full of Pepto, prescription medicines, and home remedies, we thought we’d consult professionals to see what they say the best cures for food hangovers are.

The Skinny on Fat

You may feel like you’re going to explode after that once-a-year gorging session at the steakhouse, but we have good news for you.

“It’s not going to kill you,” says David Levitsky, a professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University.

What’s likely going on is that your body simply wasn’t prepared to handle such a large amount of fatty food. It’s going to take a little while for your digestive tract to get up to speed and build up the necessary enzymes to process it, causing you that leaden, bloated feeling you’re suffering through, possibly along with indigestion or heartburn.

“If you’re a vegetarian and ate a steak, it’s going to sit there a while,” Levitsky says. “If you haven’t had a high-fat diet for a while, it’s going to stick around because the necessary enzyme supply simply isn’t in the G.I. tract. It’s just going to take a while before the digestion is complete and moves it into the colon.”

Though you’re ultimately going to have to wait it out, Jennifer Stack, assistant professor of nutrition at the Culinary Institute of America, suggests some things might speed the process along a little.

“People can try chewing gum—it stimulates saliva, which stimulates the stomach acid and helps move the stomach contents to the small intestine—though it’ll take a while,” she says. “Or they might try an herbal tea that’s caffeine-free, or simply sip some water. It also helps to take a walk. It doesn’t burn off calories but, compared to lying or sitting down, might prompt the digestive tract to keep moving. And since you’re upright, it limits the chance of acid reflux.”

Stack advises against chewing or eating anything mint-based after a large meal, however, as she subscribes to the much-debated theory that mint contributes to acid reflux by lowering pressure on the esophageal sphincter. Levitsky, on the other hand, is part of the side of the debate that doesn’t believe mint has any such effect.

More Than a Grain of Salt

If your poison came in the form of an extra-salty meal, junk food, or processed foods, then your natural instinct is generally your best bet.

“This is where water is really helpful,” Stack says. “We need plenty of water to excrete the excess sodium. And a glass of water or fluid can help dilute the stomach acid, which is a preventative way to avoid acid reflux or acid burn.”

Stay away from alcohol, which will dehydrate you, and be aware that the natural pairing of alcoholic beverages with salty junk food is going to aggravate your salty-food hangover.

But unless you suffer from hypertension or are otherwise salt-sensitive, you’re going to be OK after even an extraordinarily salty dinner, as salt is so rapidly absorbed into the gastrointestinal tract.

“There will be some people with a hypertensive attack—the blood pressure goes up, and it’s potentially dangerous if there’s a weak artery that could burst or cause an aneurysm—but it should pretty much ameliorate after a couple hours,” Levitsky says.

The day after your overindulgence in salt, try eating high-fiber foods, like vegetables, which will absorb water and get your digestive engines running smoothly again.

“The fiber from those foods is going to help form a nice, solid stool with bulk that’s easier for the digestive tract to push along and out,” Stack says.

Turn Down the Heat

Remember that time you went to that new ethnic restaurant that your more adventurous friends swore by? You sat down to the table, ordered an exotic-sounding chicken dish while surrounded by imported conversation pieces that smelled of teak or sandalwood, and proceeded to unintentionally entertain your friends to no end as you bit into your meal and immediately blew steam out of your ears.

And then came the next 24 hours, as you struggled with that feeling.

Y’know, that feeling of giving birth to a baby lava monster while a certain Johnny Cash song echoed in your pounding skull.

Sadly, once you’ve reached the lava-baby stage, there’s not much you can do.

What’s happening is that the spices that made your tongue dance as you chewed and swallowed are still active as they slide down your gullet and, uh, make a dramatic exit.

“These spices are really active compounds, stimulating the neurons all along the G.I. tract,” Levitsky says. “It can be a feeling of malaise or not being yourself. Most people don’t feel it, but some individuals are particularly sensitive.”

The best thing you can do is to address your spicy-food overdose as or right after you eat, Stack says.

First off, don’t lie down or sit—those positions could encourage reflux. And you’ll find that most cultures with a tradition of spicy foods serve their hottest dishes alongside a garnish or side dish that’s intended to cool down the heat—sliced cucumbers or yogurt, for example. Don’t be a hero—take advantage of what you’re offered.

And, as nutritionist and New York University adjunct professor Lisa Young notes, spicy dishes often include a ton of hidden salt, so you may additionally feel bloated or get flushed or sweaty. Follow the advice for salty food: Once again, water is your friend, followed by bland, high-fiber foods the next day.

Sweet Nothings

Like salt, sugar is quickly absorbed and not something you’re likely to feel the effects of the next day, even if you consumed enough cookies, candy, and sweets to have tunneled out of the vaults of the Domino Sugar refinery. Instead, your hangover is more immediate—you probably feel a rush of energy soon after you eat, followed by a so-called sugar crash shortly afterward.

But there’s scientific debate about what’s really happening to your body during a sugar rush, and what to do about it.

On one side is Stack, whose observations follow probably every parent’s anecdotal evidence of kids bouncing off the walls after the cake at a birthday party.

“What can happen is your blood-glucose level is going to rise, which gives you your sugar high, your pancreas responds by pumping out insulin, which lowers your blood-glucose level, and then your body produces too much insulin, and we go from sugar rush to sugar low,” Stack says. “What you really need is a little protein and a little bit of fat with that sugar to slow down digestion with it. Then make sure your next meal or snack is more balanced, with a slower-reacting carb, like a whole-grain starch.”

On the other side of the argument, however, is Levitsky. He cites plentiful research that has shown there’s no objective link between blood-glucose levels and hyperactivity. The sugar rush and subsequent sugar crash, he says, are all in our minds.

“It’s not the effect of the sugars, but rather the taste of the sugar,” he says. “We associate sweet tastes with being crazy, like going to a birthday party, which is where they have sweets. You really can’t feel blood-sugar changes and have it make a difference in being energetic or not. The taste of sugar has conditioned us to feel as if we have energy. In actuality, it doesn’t, metabolically.”

Now, to the five-year-old in us, the solution is obvious: Have cake and ice cream for every meal. What better way to break the psychological link between sugary treats and special occasions, right? But Levitksy suggests that time, not a constant flow of sugary snacks, is your ally.

“Kids eventually learn to distinguish these feelings from the actions,” he says. “It doesn’t do any harm to these kids, though it does make the parents feel guilty.”

And what about adults who still swear candy and cake make them feel as hyperactive as kids? Maybe this this is a simply a case of a childish thing that you shouldn’t regret putting away.

Mugged

You’re probably going to get a caffeine hangover from indulging in a beverage, not a food, but the effects can be just as unpleasant, if not worse.

“Caffeine is a real drug,” Levitsky says. “It can make you jittery, it causes tremors and hand shakes, and you can get so used to the caffeine that when you don’t have it, it can cause a reaction—many people get headaches if they regularly use it and stop.”

And if you’re already on the verge of a food hangover of another sort, that after-dinner coffee probably will only make matters harder, especially since caffeine also lowers esophageal-sphincter pressure, Stack says.

Luckily, in most cases, waiting out the effects of too much caffeine—or going without, if you’re dependent—will solve your problems. For the overindulgent, the jitteriness will subside in a couple hours. And for the caffeine addict going cold turkey, the withdrawal symptoms will usually go away within a week or so. In either case, be sure to (surprise!) drink plenty of water and keep well-hydrated.

An Immovable Feast

But what if you’re suffering from an overall intake of too many calories, rather than too much fat or salt? What if you simply gorged yourself, leaving yourself deep in the distended malaise of the self-hating glutton?

“Time is the greatest healer we have,” Levistky says. “The G.I. tract will take care of everything. It will absorb all those nutrients, which will be deposited on your body, but you can just eat less for the next week or two. No irreconcilable harm done, even by gorging.”

But there are a couple things to be aware of. For one thing, diet sodas aren’t going to help you after a huge meal.

“Often, if people overdose on calories, they feel like they can now have a diet soda, because it has no calories,” Young says. “They might think it’ll make them feel better, but it won’t. It will make them feel gassy and not help them very much.”

More seriously, if you find yourself popping antacids like an elephant sucks down peanuts, then you should see a doctor to explore potential underlying issues.

“If you’re using them several times a week, it could be a sign that something is wrong,” Levitsky says. “They could be masking the effects of a serious G.I. problem.”

And—sorry, ancient Romans—it’s never a good idea to intentionally vomit just because you ate too much at dinner.

“It’s much wiser to just let that food work its way through the system than to try to purge yourself,” Levitsky says. “That could be dangerous, as you purge yourself of critical ions that can affect the heart muscle.”

But we’ve saved the best piece of advice for last. And we’re confident experts everywhere would agree with us that there’s only one surefire method of ending the pain of a food hangover: Don’t overindulge in the first place.

*Experiencing a food hangover? Perhaps we can interest you in our “Healthy Tuesday” recipes.

Have a strange desire to induce a food hangover? Try these gooey, cheesy recipes.*

How Many Calories Did I Eat Today

I Want To Know How Many Calories I Ate Today

One of the things I ask patients I counsel for weight loss is to make an effort to estimate the number of calories they eat in a day. While there are numerous apps and sites that provide food calories calculators, almost all require enrollment in a particular weight loss program. I wanted to offer them and you a simple, anonymous way to calculate calories eaten today, so here you are.

Breakfast

Food Unit Serving Size Protein (gm) Fats (gm) Carbs (gm) Sugar (gm) Calories Delete
Totals

Lunch

Food Unit Serving Size Protein (gm) Fats (gm) Carbs (gm) Sugar (gm) Calories Delete
Totals

Dinner

Food Unit Serving Size Protein (gm) Fats (gm) Carbs (gm) Sugar (gm) Calories Delete
Totals

Snacks

Food Unit Serving Size Protein (gm) Fats (gm) Carbs (gm) Sugar (gm) Calories Delete
Totals

Grand Totals

Total For All Meals calories

Want More? Try my latest food analysis tools:

  • What’s in food – a comprehensive food composition analysis script
  • Top ten foods highest in any nutrient – the most user-friendly, fastest and simplest way to find the top 10 (or 100, or whatever number you want) foods richest in any of the dozens of known nutrients.

Instructions:

  • Brief version: Use your intuition and avoid page refresh 🙂
  • Full version:
    • Please type one or more keywords describing the food item you are searching for in the field above.
    • Shortly after you start typing, food selections will appear in a drop-down menu.
    • Select the food item you want.
    • A list of serving size options (in a radio button form element format) will be presented for you to select the one closest to the amount you ate. You will note that once you check a radio button, to units become editable, allowing for even more accurate food amount and, thus, caloric intake approximation.
    • Select the meal you ate the food at.
    • Press “Add Food to Menu” button and your food item will be added to the menu table below the form.
    • To enter another food, repeat the process, without refreshing the page.

Food calorie counting is a great skill for weight loss.
Image by Julien Tromeur. Used with author’s permission.

Notes

  • You will be able to delete an erroneous entry by clicking on the next to each food item.
  • Remember, refreshing the page will delete all food entries.
  • While the script totals calories eaten at each meal and for the whole day, it does not total macronutrient intake yet. If this feature is requested by enough users, I will make it possible in the future. Just let me know in the Comments section below.

How Is This Calorie Counter Different/Unique?

There are many calorie counter tools on the web today. Mine is unique, and I think better, in several ways:

  • You won’t be required to register for an account to use it. Most other calorie counters that allow you to find out how many calories were in the foods you ate in a day or at a meal are available only in the members area of specialized sites. I decided to make things simple and allow direct access to this tool without any barriers.
  • It does not require multiple page navigation as you search or input your food items, serving sizes, amounts, etc. By making use of modern programming languages such as PHP, JavaScript/Jquery/Ajax, as well as using MySQL as a database, the form above allows you to search for foods, select them, choose serving sizes and save your selections into a meal based format, ALL on one page, without page refreshes or reloads. This saves you time and makes the whole experience easier. At the time of writing this, I was not able to find anything similar, with no registration required, on the web.
  • While I designed this tool with counting calories as the primary purpose, it provides additional nutritional facts. For each selected food, you will be presented with its fat, protein, carbohydrate and sugar content. This information is very useful for those using this tool for weight loss, but it can be equally useful for those interested to see what the macronutrient composition of a certain food is.

My Challenge To Google

While researching the web for similar tools, I realized there is nothing similar out there. As I said above, there are numerous tools for figuring out the caloric content of individual foods, but when it comes to analyzing a whole day’s caloric intake, one would have to register into a weight loss program or something similar to be able to access anything of this caliber. (Not a big deal if that is what your want to do, but be prepared to get regular emails from them once you register.) There is one possible exception – the Interactive Menu Planner from the Department of Health and Human Services. The idea is somewhat similar to my Food Calories Calculator, but the options are a lot less customizable. My counter uses USDA’s food database, with close to 8,000 different foods to select from.

Anyway, after putting this calorie counter together, I started wondering if it had a chance to get on the first page of Google results for “the food calories calculator”, which is the name I chose for it. And how long it would take for that to happen. In theory, I think it’s possible. As I said above, there aren’t many other tools offering this service under free-access, anonymous conditions. In other words, it is unique and I think highly valuable content. But something is telling me Google won’t do that, at least not until I get a ton of outside links to this page. By the way, if you have a site/blog and liked this page, I’d appreciate a link back with “the food calories calculator” as anchor text.

So my challenge to Google is simple: can Google recognize a quality, unique service and place it at the top of it’s listings in a timely fashion? Or will it dump it somewhere on the nth page of results, where only the bravest of the brave surfers look? I am going to place updates here from time to time for the curious of you.

What Are Calories?

OK, I admit this question may sound unnecessary to a lot of you, but I am a physician and nutritionist, and I see people almost every day who are confused about this. In addition, many people are confused about the distinction between calories and kcalories. Are they the same? How about joules?

First off, the term calorie was coined in the early 1800s by a French physicist and chemist, Nicolas Clément. His definition of the Calorie was intended to be as a unit of energy, more precisely a calories was the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree C. This was well before the introduction of the International System of Units (SI) in 1960. It was the only energy unit in English dictionaries available to W.O. Atwater in 1887 for his popular articles on food and tables of food composition, and this is when the word “calorie” started making its way into the English lexicon.

Things got a bit more complicated down the road, around 1850, when two other chemists, Favre and Silbermann, defined and used the calorie as a heat unit based on a mass of 1 gram, instead of 1 kilogram, as previously defined by Clément. This is where the confusion between calorie (or g-calorie) and Calorie (or Kcalorie) originates.

During the 20th century, efforts were made to standardize energy units, and in the scientific circles joules started to be used instead of calories. While to this day the calorie is not recognized in scientific circles as a standard SI unit, it is still widely used in common speech and public nutrition education.

Thus, in common usage, the calorie is equivalent to the kcalorie. I know it makes no sense, but think about it as being the original definition given by Clément. For a more in-depth discussion of the history of “calorie”, this article is excellent.

Where Can I Find How Many Calories I Need In A Day?

Good question. After all, finding out how many calories you ate in a day is not very informative if you cannot compare it with what your body actually needs. And, for those of you using this tool for weight loss purposes, determining your real daily caloric needs is of paramount importance.

In the interest of keeping this tool simple, I opted for not including a calculator of how many calories you need in a day here. But don’t despair – you can pay a short visit to my Basal Metabolic Rate & Daily Energy Requirements Calculator where you will find exactly how many calories you need to eat in a day, depending on your individual characteristics and level of physical activity. You can then return here and use this calorie counter with a lot more fun.

Calculating how many calories are burned in a day

Share on PinterestCalculating calories consumed and burned up may help with weight management. Various apps and websites are available to aid this process.

Being able to work out how many calories are burned each day is essential to any person looking to maintain, lose, or gain weight.

Knowing what factors contribute to calorie burning can help a person alter their diet or exercise program to accommodate the goal.

An accepted method to calculate how many calories a person burns each day is the Harris-Benedict Formula.

Originally developed in the early 20th century, it was revamped in 1984 and again in 1990 to help improve its accuracy.

The Harris-Benedict formula is a relatively simple process in which a person multiplies their basal metabolic rate (BMR) by their average daily activity level.

BMR is the number of calories a person burns by simply existing. BMR varies based on age, sex, size, and genetics. To calculate BMR, a person uses inches for height, pounds for weight, and years for age in the following formulas:

  • For men: 66 + (6.2 x weight) + (12.7 x height) – (6.76 x age)
  • For women: 655.1 + (4.35 x weight) + (4.7 x height) – (4.7 x age)

The results of the BMR calculation are then used to multiply against the average daily activity of the person. Points are awarded based on how active a person is.

Points for activity levels are as follows:

  • 1.2 points for a person who does little to no exercise
  • 1.37 points for a slightly active person who does light exercise 1–3 days a week
  • 1.55 points for a moderately active person who performs moderate exercise 3–5 days a week
  • 1.725 points for a very active person who exercises hard 6–7 days a week
  • 1.9 points for an extra active person who either has a physically demanding job or has a particularly challenging exercise routine

When the BMR is calculated and the activities points are determined, the two scores are multiplied. The total is the number of calories burned on an average day.

For example, to calculate how many calories a 37-year-old, 6-foot-tall, and 170-pound man who is moderately active burns, the formula would look like:

(66 + (6.2 x 170) + (12.7 x 72) – (6.76 x 37)) x 1.55 = 2,663 calories/day

This figure shows that a man of this age, height, weight, and activity level can consume 2,663 calories and maintain his current weight. He could increase or decrease weight by consuming more or less than this amount over the course of several days.

For those who do not wish to make the calculations themselves, there are a range of calorie calculators available online. Most use a similar formula to work out calories burned.

A doctor or nutritionist should also be able to help people work out how many calories they burn each day.

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Exactly What to Do When You Overeat, According to Nutritionists

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If you’ve ever had one too many slices of pizza, two too many tacos, or *a few* too many cookies, you know what it feels like to overeat. To make matters worse, that uncomfortable, too-full feeling is often accompanied by less-than-ideal emotions like guilt and sometimes even shame.

The good news? Lots of people overeat, and there are *tons* of ways to deal with it in a healthy way, both directly after it happens and in the following days to prevent it from happening again. Here’s what nutrition experts have to say.

Why We Overeat

The reason overeating has become so common makes a lot of sense when you think about it. “Every single day we are faced with opportunities to overeat,” says Emily Field, a registered dietitian. “We live in an age where hyper-palatable food is highly available for cheap.” Think: cookies, cakes, french fries, pizza, ice cream… and the list goes on. While there’s nothing wrong with eating those foods on occasion, the temptation to eat ’em all day every day is real. “We’re constantly inundated with images of delicious food from social media feeds to mainstream media that make our brains light up like fireworks,” Field points out. “I would argue many of us overeat in some capacity, whether that’s overeating our calorie needs or simply overeating our stomach’s capacity, a few times each month or more.” (Related: How Bad Is Occasional Binge Eating?)

How to Deal If You Overeat

Sound familiar? Luckily, there are lots of actions you can take to feel better ASAP, plus some important things to avoid.

1. Don’t: Fast or skip your next meal.

Lots of people are tempted to skip their next meal or even fast for a longer period of time after overeating. “Fasting shouldn’t be an option,” says Chelsey Amer, a virtual private practice dietitian. “Our bodies require energy from food to survive.” Plus, skipping a meal or fasting can actually have the opposite of the intended effect and can even lead to bingeing, a more extreme form of overeating. “When we restrict what we eat, it sets us up to overindulge and possibly binge more,” Amer says.

Do: Make your next meal healthy and satisfying.

“Eat normally,” Amer recommends. “Eat what you want when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Following your hunger and satiety signals isn’t always easy (especially in the beginning), but it’s key to maintaining your happy weight.” Of course, you don’t need to force yourself to eat a meal if you’re not hungry yet, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to skip out on your next regular mealtime.

2. Don’t: Exercise really hard to “make up for it.”

“Don’t feel you have to burn the calories off immediately by doing a high-impact cardio routine or 100 jumping jacks followed by 50 push-ups,” says Lauren O’Connor, a registered dietitian and yoga instructor. “It will just make you feel worse and likely make you sick to your stomach if you aren’t already.” (See also: What It Feels Like to Have Exercise Bulimia)

Do: Take a walk.

Though intense exercise is a no-go, something lighter is actually a great idea. “In the few hours that follow overeating, it might be beneficial to get out for a walk if you have the chance,” Field says. “Not only is being in nature proven to brighten your mood and lower your stress levels, but a 10-minute walk is just enough to get food moving along the digestive tract.” (FYI, here’s what might happen if you walk 30 minutes a day.)

3. Don’t: Try to “detox.”

No juice cleanses need apply. Detoxing implies that you’ve exposed your body to “toxins,” Field says. “Unless you’ve downed a bottle of arsenic, your body is fully capable of handling much of what you throw at it, or rather, in it. Overeating at one meal or even across an entire day does not warrant the need to restrict your food intake in the days that follow.” So resist the urge to “punish” yourself or “make up” for what you’ve done by intentionally undereating or by trying an unsafe “detox.”

Do: Drink (a reasonable amount of) water.

“Sipping on water may help flush out some of the sodium you’ve consumed,” says Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. But it’s important not to overdo it, as it might make you feel even more full. “Stick with four to eight ounces after a large meal,” Smith advises. “Then, aim to stay hydrated for the rest of the day.”

4. Don’t: Say “screw it!”

“The most common mistake I see people make with regard to overeating is developing a throw-your-hands-in-the-air attitude after they indulge,” Field says. “I often see cheat meals, for example, turn into cheat days and even cheat weeks. All of a sudden, someone is completely derailed from the healthy, consistent habits they were engaging in.”

Do: Think about your next meal.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but you should strategize the healthy and balanced meal you will have next,” says Heather Seid, R.D., a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition manager at Lenox Hill Hospital. That way, you can get back on track ASAP. “If you overeat at brunch, think about what your dinner will look like,” she says. “Consider pairing a lean protein with a fiber-rich vegetable such as a salad topped with salmon or spaghetti squash with turkey meat sauce.”

How to Prevent Overeating

Knowing how to deal with overeating after the fact is great, but knowing how to stop it before it happens is even better. While you might overeat on purpose sometimes (on your birthday, at a party, or at an amazing restaurant), here’s how to avoid it when you really don’t want to eat more than you need.

1. Don’t: Label foods as good vs. bad.

“The most common mistake I see in my clients is that they see eating as black and white,” O’Connor says. “There is often guilt when they overeat, and this shame often results in a poor relationship with food. They find themselves on a constant diet roller coaster, losing and regaining weight.” When you perceive a food as “bad for you,” she says, it can become a restriction, and restrictions can eventually give way to going overboard. (Here’s more info on how food labels can be bad for your diet and body image.)

Do: Remember that there’s room for indulgences in a healthy diet.

“The more you work to shift your mindset from a dieting mindset to an ‘all foods fit’ mindset, the easier it will be to break the cycle of overeating and restricting,” Amer says. Instead of labeling something indulgent as “bad,” try to just focus on enjoying it. Then, the temptation to eat more than you really need becomes less intense.

2. Don’t: Undereat during the day.

“Undereating throughout the day, whether done intentionally or not, sets you up to be ravenously hungry by the end of the day,” Field explains. This is a recipe for overeating at night, which is when many people tend to overeat.

Do: Spread your food intake out.

“I recommend eating enough real, whole foods with balanced macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) at each meal, which keeps you full and satisfied for far longer,” Field says. Doing this can help prevent that ‘I want to eat everything in sight’ feeling. “Let’s say you need 1,800 calories for the whole day. Divide that by three meals per day. That’s 600 calories per meal. If you’re eating mixed-macro meals that total 600 calories, I guarantee you’ll prevent that tired, hangry, lack-of-control feeling,” Field says. Of course, you also have the option to divvy up some of those calories for snacks if you’d prefer that-as long as you’re sticking with the idea of spacing out your food intake throughout the day.

3. Don’t: Suffer in silence if you’re struggling.

So many people have issues with overeating, and there are lots of ways to get help if you feel like you can’t get it under control on your own. “Overeating is common and can simply be a product of your emotions, circumstances, or environment-and that’s totally okay,” Field says. It can be harder for some than it is for others so if that’s you, Field encourages reaching out to a professional to work through those feelings.

Do: Understand your triggers.

Seeing a dietitian or therapist can certainly help you do this, but you can also do a little detective work to figure them out on your own through food journaling, meditation, and mindful eating. (BTW, here’s how to make mindful eating a regular part of your diet if you’re new to it.) “Using food to mask different emotions is never the answer, so if you’re reaching for food out of boredom, loneliness, frustration or stress: explore that,” Field suggests. “Work to resolve the uncomfortable root emotion without food.”

So, You Ate Too Much…What Do You Do Now?

So you told yourself that you would not overeat during Thanksgiving, the Superbowl, or any other special occasion . But here you are after the feast, feeling bloated and filled with eater’s remorse. As you stare at the stacks of empty dishes, you may say, “What have I done?” So, the question is “What do you do?”

Do not beat yourself up.

Overeating episodes happen to the best of us. Many people do not choose to overeat. (Unless, you are in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.) Instead, overeating, like watching an Adam Sandler movie, just seems to happen…without planning. Indeed, you have less control over your diet than you think. The people, the environment and other circumstances around you can heavily influence when, what and how much you eat. For example, staying on your diet amidst Thanksgiving festivities can be challenging. Consider an overeating episode like a one-night stand with turkey gravy and pumpkin pie. You cannot turn back time and erase the episode. You may as well accept that it happened and move forward. Also, wallowing may prevent you from moving around and taking some of the steps listed below.

Do not panic.

Panicking is useful when…actually, panicking is never useful and may make things worse. Stress can lead to hunger…and more eating. Panic can also lead to worse decision making. Substantial weight gain and obesity results from what occurs regularly over many days and not from a single episode. Now, if you had Thanksgiving meals every day for a month…that may be a different story.

Do not binge exercise.

One inclination may be to combat the binge eating episode with an equally excessive bout of exercise. Suddenly exercising more than you are used to brings high risk for injury or sometimes even worse health consequences such as heart attacks. Nearly anything in excess is not good…whether it is puppies, chocolate, fiber or cat videos.

Do not worry about weighing yourself immediately.

Ever see a python after the python has swallowed an animal? The python temporarily looks much larger and heavier. Similarly, if you eat pounds (or kilos) of food, until you fully digest or jettison (no, I will not explain how this specifically occurs) the food, the ingested food and all the accompanying water will add to your weight temporarily. Plus your weight fluctuates throughout the day, every day. So, what is more important is your weight over time and not on one day.

Do not take any special medications or supplements.

If someone truly developed a medication or supplement that could safely counteract the effects of overeating, wouldn’t you think that everyone would be clamoring for it? Be very wary about claims that certain products can help with an episode of overeating.

Do not fast.

Fasting after binging raises the risk of triggering a binging-fasting cycle. Fasting can make you more hungry so that you subsequently overeat. Also, fasting could alter your metabolism so that you do not burn as many calories as you normally would, since fasting may make the body think that it should conserve energy. Instead you should…

Resume your regular diet as soon as possible.

An overeating episode should be like a bad episode in a generally good television series. The sooner everything goes back to normal, the less impact the episode has. Problems occur when an overeating episode leads to a subsequent change for the worse (like the Fonz jumping the shark in Happy Days.) Overeating episodes can lead to falling off the wagon and resuming a bad habit that you had managed to avoid for a long time. Therefore, the sooner that you get back on the wagon, the better. Also, a sudden large meal can paradoxically make you feel more hungry the following morning. So, be careful about what you eat the next day. Don’t follow a one-night stand with another one. If you would like, you could reduce what you eat over the next few days to help shed some weight, but don’t make drastic cuts because they may not be sustainable.

Move around.

Being physically active can help things inside move down and eventually out of you. It can also burn calories. But don’t exert yourself too much, and instead…

Resume your regular exercise routine.

An episode of overeating can leave you feeling sluggish, basically a food hangover. Your body has had to work hard to deal with the unexpected onslaught of food. This can make it tough to jump back into the gym or wherever you usually exercise…but try to do so.

After overeating, try getting back into your regular exercise routine, but don’t overdo it, which… may lead to injury and other health problems. This picture would be an example of overdoing it…unless this is your normal treadmill routine. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Get a good night’s sleep.

It may be difficult to sleep when you feel like a stuffed pillow, but sleep can help digest and metabolize food and reduce any subsequent unhealthy cravings,

Drink lots of plain water.

Water can help metabolism and move things down and out of your body. If you ate a lot of salt, which occurs more often than you realize, drinking plain water can help restore the balance in your body. Remember that juice, soda, and any liquid that is not plain water can have a fair amount of calories.

Move on with life.

Eventually, you can get through this bout of overeating and the accompanying feelings of remorse, guilt, disgust, or even longing. Unless you make overeating a habit, you will soon return to the arms of the more moderate amount of foods that you have long known well. They will take you back as long as you remain faithful… until perhaps, next time you overeat…

How I quit weekend overeating. 5 surprising strategies that helped me ditch the bingeing, the guilt, and the extra weight.

In my world, weekend overeating (and over-boozing) was ‘just what people did.’ It felt good to let loose… until I got sick of the regret, guilt, bloating, and extra pounds. That’s when I discovered the surprising *real* reason behind my Friday-to-Sunday gorging. Here are the 5 strategies I used to ditch the habit (and the weight) for good.

  • Want to listen instead of read?

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I used to overeat like a boss.

True story.

Sure, I was “good” all week.

But weekend overeating? That was my jam.

Every Friday around 5pm, as I waited for the bus after work, I’d start to salivate. The end of the work week meant red wine, pizza, a giant bag of chips, and bad movies. It was a Friday ritual.

Sometimes I’d call my husband while waiting. What should we get on the pizza? They do that really good pesto sauce with goat cheese. What about extra sausage?

Friday night, when I got to eat whatever I wanted, was the highlight of my week.

My job was stressful. The commute was long. Coming home, dumping my stuff, and crushing some fast food and booze was my way of unwinding.

However…

Friday became a gateway drug to the rest of the weekend.

I ate big breakfasts on Saturdays before I went to the gym, and big lunches afterwards. I went out on Saturday nights for drinks and a heavy meal. Or stayed home for more takeout and movies on the couch.

Then came Sunday brunches, of course. And picking up some of those amazing cookies at that little coffee shop on Sunday walks. And, naturally, you close weekends with a big Sunday roast… because it’s Sunday.

Because it’s Friday. Because it’s Saturday. Because it’s Sunday.

Which bled into: Because it’s Thursday night. Technically close enough to Friday. Friday-adjacent, and good enough.

In my head, the weekend was a time where “normal rules” didn’t apply. It was a time to relax, put my feet up, and let the soothing crunching and chewing take me away.

I’m not talking about compulsive bingeing here. That’s where you have episodes of eating without thinking, almost like you’re on autopilot.

(People with binge eating disorder feel disassociated while overeating and that can be hard to break without help from a doctor or therapist.)

But for me, it wasn’t that. Rather, mine was the kind of overeating where you’re all-in: a convenient, stress-fueled, often social, habit.

My social circle was happy to support it. I had binge buddies and pizza pals. As far as I was concerned, going hog wild was just what people did on weekends.

Looking back, I also know that in the face of a stressful job and overwhelming responsibilities my overeating ritual made me feel sane and human.

After a while, though, weekend overeating started to suck.

As every overeater knows, the joy of runaway indulgence comes with consequences.

You feel physically uncomfortable, bloated, perhaps even sick to your stomach. Mentally, you feel crappy. Guilty. Regretful. Maybe angry at yourself. Or just angry in general.

And while weight fluctuation is inevitable when you’re trying to get in shape, if you want to stay healthy and fit, or make fitness and health a permanent part of your lifestyle, then weekend overeating can sabotage your goals.

Aside from the obvious extra body fat or stalled performance, there’s other unwanted stuff.

Like your joints hurt because of inflammation from last night’s junk food. Or you’re too full to run properly. Or you lie awake in bed with meat sweats, huffing in small breaths around the food-baby in your belly.

Yet the cycle can be hard to break.

I tried to get it under control.

I started cutting deals with myself, such as, if it’s “real food” then it’s okay to overeat. (Cue jars of almond butter, spinach pizzas, and all-you-can-eat sushi.)

During the week, I trained harder. Ate less. Tracked low and high calories in a spreadsheet. But every starvation attempt was inevitably followed by an even bigger blowout on the weekend.

The cycle continued; my health and fitness goals remained elusive.

Then I made a surprising discovery.

How did I finally break free of my weekend overeating cycle?

Maybe not how you think.

I didn’t use “one weird trick”, or biological manipulation, or reverse psychology.

With some help from a nutrition coach, I realized that my eating habits on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday weren’t the only challenge. There were some questionable weekday habits, too. Habits that were perhaps even more crucial to the whole picture.

Once I identified my work-week eating patterns, and how they were affecting my weekend behavior, I developed a healthier relationship with food… and myself.

Here are the 5 strategies that helped me turn things around.

Strategy #1:
I aimed for “good enough” instead of “perfect”.

I’ve seen it in so many Precision Nutrition Coaching clients.

They want to follow the “perfect” diet.

So they adhere to strict meal plans (to the last measured teaspoon) Monday to Friday. And, the whole week, they worry incessantly about screwing things up.

By the weekend, though, the willpower gives out. They’re so sick of restrictive eating and can’t wait to eat food they actually enjoy. Bring on the weekend binge!

For most of them, there are only two options: perfect or crap.

So the logic follows:

“It’s Saturday, I’m out to lunch with my family, and I can’t have my perfect pre-portioned kale salad like I usually do, so instead I’ll just overeat a giant bacon cheeseburger and a huge heap of fries.”

If you take “perfect” off the table, things change. You feel empowered because there are now other options. Instead of kale salad vs. five servings of fries, there’s:

“I’m actually in the mood for a salad with my burger because I had fries at that work lunch on Thursday.”

Therefore, my solution: Always aim for “good enough”.

Throughout the work week and the weekend, I started to consider my health and fitness goals, what I was in the mood for, what was available, etc. I came up with a definition of “good enough”, and aimed for that.

Remember: The decent method you follow is better than the “perfect” one you quit.

Strategy #2:
I let go of my food rules.

If perfectionism is the Wicked Witch of overeating, then food rules are the flying monkeys.

Food rules tell you:

  • what you can and can’t eat,
  • when you can or can’t eat it,
  • how you can or can’t eat it, and/or
  • how much you can or can’t have.

Spreadsheet time!

These rules take up an awful lot of mental real estate. They also set you up for disinhibition… aka “the Screw It Effect”.

Here’s how the Screw It Effect works.

Let’s say your #1 food rule is Don’t Eat Carbs. No croutons on the salad; won’t touch a sandwich; no potatoes with your omelet. Thanks.

But this Friday night, you find yourself out with friends, and everyone’s having beer and pizza. You hold out for a bit. Finally, you give in and grab a slice.

That means screw it, you’ve “blown your diet”, so you might as well keep eating. Cue the binge and uncomfortable after effects.

Of course, if you have one food rule, you probably have several. That means there are lots of ways to “mess up” (and disinhibit). Maybe all night. Maybe all weekend.

Eating by the rules almost always leads to overeating crap, because once you deviate, there’s nothing left to guide you.

My solution: I ditched the rules and let hunger be my guide.

Non-dieters (or so-called “normal eaters”) eat when they’re physically hungry and stop when they’re physically full, no matter if it’s Wednesday or Saturday, morning or evening, work lunch or happy hour.

Start by paying attention to your own food rules and responses.

When, where, and how are you likely to say, “Screw it?” What might happen if you let go of that rule and really tuned in to your physical hunger and fullness cues instead?

Strategy #3:
I gave up on “Cheat Days”.

Monday through Saturday is all about being faithful to your diet. But Sunday… That’s Cheat Day.

Oh, Cheat Day. The happiest day of your week.

You wake up on Cheat Day morning like a kid at Christmas. Go hog wild all day long, eating all the stuff you didn’t permit yourself during the week.

As evening nears, you start to freak out. So you eat (and maybe drink) even more. Because tomorrow, it’s back to reality. Back to fidelity and compliance. And no fun.

Sure, some people find the idea of a weekly Cheat Day useful both mentally and physically. If this is you, and it works for you, then by all means continue.

But for most of the people I’ve coached, having one Cheat Day means the rest of the week is food purgatory.

My solution: I quit the Cheat Day routine, and gave myself permission to choose what I wanted all week long.

Like the Screw It Effect, Cheat Day depends on scarcity.

Scarcity makes us feel anxious, needy, and greedy. The counter to a scarcity mindset? Abundance.

For you and most people around you, food is abundant — not something to be hoarded or feared. (If that’s true in your life, be grateful. It’s a privilege.)

You don’t need to “cheat” because there’s nothing, and no one, to “cheat” on. Maybe you enjoy some dessert on a Tuesday night because you’re in the mood for it, or maybe you don’t because you’re satisfied from dinner.

What and when you eat is up to you — and your hunger and fullness cues. No matter what day of the week it is.

Strategy #4:
I owned my choices (Really. Owned them.)

Do you ever barter with yourself? Make deals, trades or swaps related to food?

“Okay, self, I’ll turn down dessert today… but I’m gonna collect on the weekend and you better pony up the whole damn pie.”

In this mindset, one “good deed” gives you license to “sin” elsewhere. These trades rarely pay off — they usually just amount to a lot of mental gymnastics that help you avoid making tough decisions and help you justify overeating.

Look, we’re all adults here. Trading off “good” and “bad” is for little kids and convicts. There is no “good” and “bad”. There’s no prison warden holding the keys.

Mind games like this undermine your health goals — and your authority over your decisions.

My solution: I started owning my choices, and letting my adult values and deeper principles guide me when I sat down to eat.

I started making food decisions by acknowledging the outcome I would expect, based on my experience. For example:

“I’m choosing to eat this tub of ice cream on Saturday night. I’ll probably feel nauseated and anxious afterwards. In this instance, I’m fine with it.”

In the end, own your choices: Don’t moralize them. You’re free to eat and drink anything you want. You choose your behavior.

Just remember that different choices produce different outcomes.

It’s your call.

Strategy #5:
I stopped rationalizing.

Weekends present all sorts of comfortable justifications for eating a bunch of non-nutritious foods.

It could be anything:

  • You were busy. Or maybe you had nothing going on.
  • You were traveling. Or maybe you were at home.
  • You had to work. Or you had no work to do.
  • You had family/social meals. Or maybe you ate alone.

Any excuse will do. Powerless victim of circumstance!

But busyness, boredom, travel, work, or family dinners don’t inherently cause overeating. People eat or drink too much in lots of different situations. Their explanation simply matches whatever happens to be going on at the time.

Rationalizations are a convenient script. They help us make sense of — and perpetuate — our overeating or other unhelpful behaviors.

My solution: I stopped rationalizing and asked myself why I was really overeating.

Sometimes, you’ll want to eat crap. And too much of it. That’s normal.

But instead of falling back on the tired victim-of-circumstance narrative, take the opportunity to ask yourself what’s really going on.

Are you bored? Stressed? Sad? Happy?

Do this over and over and over, and you’ll start to see some patterns. That’s your pot of gold. That’s your opportunity to change overeating behavior — and do something else to address those emotions instead of bingeing.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition.

There is no “perfect time” to eat better. Not tomorrow; not on Monday. Life is always a little nuts.

All we can do is our best with what we’ve got. Right here, right now.

Here’s where to start.

Ask yourself: How’s that weekend overeating working for you?

If you’re loving your Cheat Day, Friday junk-food bonanzas, or gut-punching Sunday brunches, and you’re happy with the results, keep doing it.

But if you’re conflicted, it could be time to investigate further. Ask yourself: What does weekend overeating do for you? What is it a path to? What does it enable you to get or feel? How does it solve a problem or have a purpose for you?

In my case, weekend overeating was self-medication for stress, stimulation and novelty, and a way to connect with other people.

To rearrange your mindset and break the cycle of weekend overeating, try:

  • aiming for “good enough” instead of “perfect”,
  • letting go of your food rules,
  • giving up the Cheat Days,
  • owning your choices, and/or
  • quitting the rationalizations.

If you feel urgency or compulsion when you overeat, consider talking to your doctor or a trained professional about binge eating disorder.

Apply the Precision Nutrition “clean slate” method.

In Precision Nutrition Coaching, the clean slate approach means that after any and every “screw-up”, you get to start fresh.

Overate Friday night? No problem, wake up Saturday morning and start again. Don’t try to compensate. Just get on with things as normal.

You don’t “pay back” the damage in the gym, nor do you kamikaze your way through a jar of peanut butter. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go back to doing your best.

Put someone else in control for a while.

Yes, you are the boss of you, and you should own your choices. But changing a deep-seated habit — even one that on the surface may seem silly and harmless, like overeating on the weekend — is challenging. Really challenging.

And just like weight loss, the process of changing your habits will have ups and downs. It helps to team up with someone who will support and encourage you.

Find a friend, a partner, a trainer, or a coach, who will listen to you and keep you accountable. For many clients, relinquishing control is a choice they’re glad to own.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes (including how to manage energy balance) — in a way that supports long-term progress — is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 30% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 30% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

Doesn’t matter what eating plan you use and what your schedule is like, there’s one reliable thing you can do to painlessly cut calories and end up feeling (and being) lighter.

“Eat until you’re not hungry, not until you’re full,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D.N., consultant for integrative and lifestyle medicine for the Cleveland Clinic.

Of course, this suggests that you’re eating when you’re hungry to begin with. So if you’re not already doing that, that’s a good place to start. “So many of my patients talk to me about late-night eating,” says Kirkpatrick; that’s a key time that people eat too much. But you don’t need to fuel up in order to sleep. “You’re eating out of some other necessity,” Kirkpatrick says. Boredom? Fatigue?

You might not have to figure out the deep psychological reason you’re drawn to the (entire bag of) quinoa chips at 10 PM in order to stop polishing them off. It’s not a bad idea to figure it out, but until you do, set up a rule for yourself that you won’t eat unless you’re actually hungry.

How to eat according to hunger

Think of hunger on a scale from 1 (seriously hungry) to 10 (sickeningly full), and don’t eat unless you’re at a 2 or 3, says Kirkpatrick. And to keep yourself from being at a 2 or 3 all the time, fuel up with foods that keep you full—you know what we’ll say here; protein, produce, healthy fat—rather than refined carbs that leave you ravenous not long after you eat them.

On the other end of the scale, stop eating when you’re at a 7, not when you’re at an 8 or 9. “You don’t want to be full, and you don’t want to be hungry; you want to be at a status quo,” Kirkpatrick says. So if you’re out and you eat a big appetizer and no longer feel hungry, it’s fine to stop or have just a few bites of dinner and take the rest home. Having a lot of food on your plate doesn’t mean you have to eat it, she points out. It seems so obvious when you hear it, but it’s far less evident when there’s a beautiful plate of food in front of you. Or a bucket of wings.

Beware the trap of thinking that you need to “eat extra” because it’ll be a long day. In the U.S., it’s pretty rare to be anywhere that there’s no access to food, and if you will be traveling or in a food desert, “you can prepare,” Kirkpatrick points out. These healthy snacks can keep you deliciously on track on airplanes and on road trips. So eat to comfort now and have something ready for hunger later; don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to pre-load for the rest of the day or century. Then if you do get hungry—a 2 or 3, not just a “I really feel like eating now”—enjoy what you’ve prepped.

Marty Munson Marty Munson, currently the health director of Men’s Health, previously served as deputy editor at Dr Oz The Good Life and director of digital content at Shape.

The top 5 ways to avoid eating too much food

14 Jul The top 5 ways to avoid eating too much food

Posted at 06:10h in Blog, Motivation, Nutrition by admin

It is no secret that we have an obesity crisis – the Medical Journal of Australia found that obesity in Australia more than doubled in the two decades preceding 2003 and the unprecedented rise in obesity has been compared to the same health crisis in America. The rise in obesity has been attributed to poor eating habits closely related to the availability of fast food since the 1970s, a sedentary lifestyles and a decrease in the labour workforce but one of the most common reasons is simply eating too much food.

And with the colder weather, we tend to be less active and eat even more than usual and this is the perfect storm for weight gain. So to avoid this happening to you, here are my top 5 practical and personal ways to avoid eating too much:

1. Use smaller plates

The dinner plates we use today are huge. If you visit an antique store, look at the dinnerware – plates, bowls and cups are tiny in comparison which shows just how much more food we are eating today compared to years ago.

Many of us tend to use the size of our plate as a measure of how much we can eat. If we use a large plate, we fill the plate with food and we usually don’t stop eating until the plate is clean (as we have been taught from childhood to finish everything on our plate).

So look at using smaller plates – you will naturally put a smaller amount of food on your plate thus reducing your chance of eating too much. Studies have demonstrated reducing portion sizes is a successful way to cut calories.

2. Reduce the size of your meals

If you don’t want to buy a whole new set of plates and bowls, then just don’t serve yourself as much food compared to what you usually do. One of the easiest ways to avoid putting on too much weight is to simply reduce the amount of food we eat. Our stomach can comfortably hold 1 litre of food but it can hold up to 4 litres when we eat too much.

When you go to the supermarket, avoid the larger packages. When getting takeout, ask for the smaller size. Instead of ordering a main course, consider an entree instead. If you love your desserts, think about going halves with someone instead of having one all on your own.

Look at the ways you can cut down on the serving size to resist the temptation to overeat.

3. Eating too fast

Some people treat eating food as a race to finish or they only have a few minutes to grab something to eat so they shovel it down their throat as quickly as possible. This is not only an all too easy way to stack on the kilos (as your stomach doesn’t get a chance to tell the brain it has had enough) but it can also cause reflux, indigestion and heartburn.

So put the fork down between mouthfuls and chew slowly. Treat each meal like you are at a fancy restaurant, linger over every spoonful.

If you are at work and often eat with co-workers, find the slowest eater at your table and copy their pace. Add conversation to the table and apply the etiquette of not talking with your mouth full. And avoid eating with people you’d rather not be with so you don’t rush to make an escape.

4. Don’t sit in front of the TV

This is a great way to put on weight. You are glued to the screen and you are on autopilot with your eating. In most homes, the television is in the dining room, in front of the table where you eat dinner. When you watch TV, you are relaxed, you separate yourself from your routine and problems and you submerge into a fictional world. The result being is that you eat more without realising it. Also, being in front of a TV often goes hand in hand with eating unhealthy snacks.

At work, it is all too common to eat lunch in front of the computer to continue working (and I have been guilty of this). Again you don’t realise just how much you are putting in your mouth as you are distracted with looking at the screen in front of you.

So to break this bad habit, sit at the dining table or in the kitchen when you are eating. Take the time out to focus on what you are eating and you are less likely to be distracted and eat too much.

5. Always listen to your body

This is a great trick – after you finish your meal, have some water and wait 20 minutes. Now ask yourself, are you still really hungry or not. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. After giving it some time, you may find that you don’t actually need that second serving after all. So always listen to your body and brain as it will tell you what to do.

17 Reasons You’re Overeating (And How to Stop!)

Lack of sleep. Stress. Crazy-demanding cousins/in-laws/parents. Hormones. All of these factors can add up to one big bucket of ice cream or takeout box of pizza when the overeating gear kicks into full drive.

Read on for top nutritionists’ tips for the most common culprits of overeating and how to conquer them. And if you happen to be diving into healthy foods instead of Chips Ahoy, you’ll still want to be mindful of your portion control beware of the healthy foods to eat in moderation.

1

You’re Surviving on Just Salads

We’ll never argue with slipping more cruciferous veggies and dark, leafy greens into your diet, but you could technically be doing it wrong. “Sure, in theory, this is a great thing since vegetables are low in calories and packed with nutrients,” explain The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. “The problem is if your salad mainly consists of greens without some more substantial, energy-providing carbohydrates to fuel your brain and muscles or protein to keep you feeling satisfied. Without those, this will make you tired and hungry soon after and crave more fuel, which means you’ll be prone to overeating.” To fix this: “Add a small portion of a quality carbohydrate like quinoa, beans, sweet potatoes, corn or peas to your salad and some healthy protein like eggs, beans, chicken, shrimp or edamame.”

2

Pringles and Skittles Are Lying on Your Counter

Putting the wrong foods in easily-seen, easily-reached places is one surefire way to urge on overeating. “Ever heard of ‘out of sight, out of mind?’ Well, you can’t eat the things you don’t have, and you’re less likely to eat them if they aren’t right in front of you,” says Rebecca Lewis, RD for HelloFresh. “Instead, place bowls of fruits and veggies out on the counter and ditch the display of unhealthy snacks.” Pro-tip: Make sure none of the unhealthiest foods on the planet are on your counter, fridge, or a stone’s throw away from your kitchen to avoid overeating them.

3

You’re a Multitasking Master

This is one champion title you don’t want to rock. “Eating in front of the computer, TV, in the car, or while reading a book are all things we love to do,” says Kimberly Gomer, RD, Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa. “But our stomachs have ‘stretch receptors.’ When food hits our stomachs, the stretch receptors send a signal of satiety to our brains saying ‘You’re full!’ This signal does not work if you eat while distracted. Studies have shown that you can easily take in hundreds of extra calories simply by not paying attention.” To avoid this overeating pitfall, practice mindful eating. Turn off any distractions around you, sit quietly, and focus on all the aspects of your meal when you eat. “It can change your entire eating experience in a positive way and be a major tool in avoiding overeating,” says Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietitian, and author of The Vegiterranean Diet and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition.

4

You’re Not Sipping Enough H2O

“The brain confuses thirst for hunger and you wind up overeating when a glass of water would have nipped your ‘hunger’ in the bud,” offer The Nutrition Twins. It’s easy to outsmart this sneaky but common source of hunger pangs, though: “Carry a water bottle with you and sip it throughout the day and make an effort to drink at least one cup of water with meals and a cup before!”

5

You’ve Got Food Fatigue

File this under amazing: “Because we make approximately 200 food choices each day, we get fatigued towards the end of the day,” comments Hever. “Meal planning is optimal to help you gain control of your overall food intake.”

6

You’re Noshing on Processed Foods

Many of us are literally eating food that is chemically-engineered to trick your brain into thinking you’re still hungry. “Essentially, these foods are calorically dense but lack actual nutrition. So, you have to eat more and more of the food before your brain gets the message that you are actually full,” shares Lewis. “Additionally, these types of foods are heavily processed and filled with the specific additives, flavorings, and textures that keep you coming back for more and more. Instead, eat fruits and veggies first [like the best veggies for weight loss, before you reach for the boxed and bagged stuff.”

7

Something is Driving You Next-level Insane

Maybe it’s your job, your spouse, your house hunt…whatever it is, it’s got you feeling super stressed out. “Stress kicks up your cortisol levels into high gear, which promotes hunger and overeating. Over a period of time with elevated cortisol levels, you are at an increased risk for weight gain,” offers Hever. “Try emphasizing stress management techniques such as meditation, walking, or talking to a friend or therapist to help you deal with the underlying issues promoting stress.” May we suggest test-driving these 5 foods that fight stress?

8

You’re Hitting the Gym Too Hard

You Crossfit rockstar, you. We’re all about breaking that sweat, but sometimes it could backfire on your appetite control. “It’s great to exercise, and to challenge yourself, but some people push themselves so hard that it triggers an insatiable appetite,” say The Nutrition Twins. “If this is you, experiment a bit to see what will slash your appetite. For some people, it means exercising with slightly less intensity but going slightly longer. For others, it means possibly stopping doing your typical interval workout 10 minutes earlier and just continue at a slightly lower intensity.” You should continue to challenge yourself, but test yourself and journal the results to see what may trigger a ferocious appetite. And be sure to drink plenty of fluid during your exercise so that it’s not dehydration that’s making you think you’re hungry.

9

You’re Not Sleeping Enough

Ever notice that you’re ravenous the day after you didn’t sleep well? You’re not alone. “Research has shown that missing even just a single night of sleep can really wreak havoc on the way your appetite hormones work,” says Lewis. “Even just a single night of poor sleep can make you feel hungrier than usual the next day. Instead, make sure you are getting six to eight hours of sleep a night. Start by turning down lights and powering down your electronics about an hour before bed.” Hever adds: “Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and prepare for occasions when this may be challenging (such as during travel or stressful periods) by meal planning and tuning into true hunger and satiety signals.” And be sure to avoid these foods that keep you awake at night.

10

You’re Craving Comfort

Tempting as it may be, it’s key to avoid food that works as a cradle of coziness rather than fuel for your body. “Because of the deep symbolism and memories attached to certain foods—typically rich, celebratory foods associated with family gatherings and holidays—it may seem soothing to reach for these foods to satisfy an emotional need for connection or to ameliorate feeling of sadness or longing. Try reaching out to loved ones and friends when you feel this way,” suggests Hever. It’s also helpful to learn smart swaps that turn comfort foods into lighter fare.

11

You’re Skimping on Fiber and Protein

You know you need fiber and protein for healthy, permanent weight loss, but a big reason is because not getting enough can put you at risk for overeating. “They keep you feeling satisfied because they take longer to digest,” say The Nutrition Twins. “You should never have your meal without adequate protein and fiber. Cut back on some of the cereal and have a Greek yogurt at breakfast; make sure your salad at lunch has chicken, shrimp or tofu; as your snack, skip the pretzels and try veggie crudites and hummus; and cut your pasta dinner in half and add lean protein like seafood or grilled chicken with a bunch of your favorite veggies tossed in.”

12

You’re Bored

Or sad. Or upset. “Emotional eating is a real thing that unfortunately starts as a habit when we’re kids,” says Lewis. “We’ve all seen the screaming kid who will only be quieted down by candy. Adults have this same behavior; they reach for ‘guilty’ pleasures that they think will give them a boost. Instead, take a five-minute walk, call a friend, or try some deep breathing.”

13

You’re Banning a Food or Food Group Your Body Craves

“As registered dietitians, we find that some of the most well-intentioned healthy eaters overeat other foods as they attempt to avoid the one food they want. Instead of just having the cookie they crave, they have a serving of yogurt, a handful of whole-grain crackers, some fruit, and more. Before they know it, they’ve overeaten. Yes, it was healthy food, but they’ve consumed a lot of calories and still don’t feel satisfied,” comment The Nutrition Twins. What to do instead? “Allow yourself to indulge in one pre-determined portion of the treat, such as a small cookie, a square of dark chocolate or half a cup of low-fat ice cream. The key is to know in advance how much you can have. Fill up first on a healthy meal with satisfying protein and fiber so that you don’t overeat out of hunger.”

14

You’re Skipping Meals

Just because your lunch hour whizzed by, doesn’t mean you might as well wait until dinner. “Most people should not go more than four to five hours between meals,” Lewis says. “Waiting too long to eat can lead to a drop in blood sugar. Once the ghrelin hormone has been released, the lack of food will inevitably lead to hunger cravings that make you over-indulge. Instead, watch for clues: If you notice yourself getting more irritable, hunger may be the cause. Take a break and find a healthy snack to relieve your hunger and balance out your blood sugar levels. Be sure to keep grab-and-go snacks on hand.”

15

You’re Eating Like You’re in a Race

Let’s call it the Ugh Moment. It’s when you’ve eaten too fast and too much and all of a sudden are like, “Ugh.” We’ve been there, too, and the answer is to slow down. It takes time for the signal from your stomach to get to your brain that you’ve just eaten. “Without that signal, we’re inclined to keep eating until we are full and then end up stuffed,” says Lewis. “Instead, slow down, put your fork down between bites, try to stretch your meal to be a full 20 minutes, and stop eating when you’re medium-full.”

16

You’re Not Being a Label Sleuth

“How many of us are guilty of rewarding ourselves after a super intense workout at the gym—only to find that even after working out, you’re still gaining weight? This is because we tend to overestimate the good stuff and underestimate the bad stuff,” explains Lewis. Instead, learn to read labels, pay attention to portion sizes, and reward your efforts with healthy foods that are nutrient dense instead of just calorically dense. Test yourself: 8 confusing labels and what they actually mean.

17

You’re Not Gauging Your Fullness Level

Similar to previous tips, this one is all about being mindful. “We teach our clients at Pritikin the skill of Mindful Eating. This means paying attention to hunger and satiety and using a hunger scale to determine when to start eating and stop are key,” suggests Gomer. Check out easy ways to eat mindfully and start incorporating them into your daily life for more ways to be more tuned in to how full your tank is.

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After eating too much

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