- How to minimize fat gain when you binge
- No, you can’t actually gain weight from one day of overeating
- The 8 Most Effective Ways to Get Back on Track After You Messed Up (And Finally Stay There).
- 1. Identify the root cause of your failure.
- 2. Create a Schedule and stick to it
- 3. Use your current habits to restart the behaviour
- 4. Get Back to the basics
- 5. Embrace imperfect starts
- 6. Change your environment
- 7. Keep yourself accountable.
- 8. Try a different approach
- It’s Never Too Late to Get Back on Track
- Read Next
- How to Bounce Back After a Food Binge
- Emotionally: Reframe the Sitch
- Physically: Your Immediate Action Plan
- Looking Ahead: Your Back-in-the-Game Action Plan
- The Takeaway
- How to Bounce Back After A Binge
- Forgive Yourself
- Drink Lots of Water
- Move Your Body
- Don’t Skip Meals
- Go to Bed Early
- 6 WAYS TO GET BACK ON TRACK AFTER A BINGE
- How Do You Get Back on Track?
How to minimize fat gain when you binge
For many, the holiday season is a time for indulgence, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year occurring in quick succession. In fact, most of the weight gained in a year is gained over the holidays, and this added weight appears to be mostly fat. So, holiday feasts and treats may play a key role in the slow, insidious fat gain most of us experience as we age.
If people shed their holiday fat over the course of the following year, all would be well, but most fail to do so. Their New Year’s resolutions soon forgotten, they resume their (over)eating habits.
Just like Thanksgiving marks the start of the shopping season leading to Christmas, it also marks the start of the feasting season. In 2015, the Calorie Control Council reported that a Thanksgiving dinner packed more than 3,000 Calories, typically, and could reach 4,500 Calories. The media quickly latched onto the bigger number, which the Calorie Control Council has since removed from its report (2018). Even “just” 3,000 Calories, however, is 500 Calories more than the typical daily caloric intake adjusted for underreporting.
Now, one feast isn’t going to make you gain ten pounds of fat — there’s a limit to the amount of food your body can process for storage over a given amount of time. What your body cannot process for storage during that time, it tries to burn (your temperature rises slightly) and excrete (you end fighting with your family for access to the toilets).
One feast, therefore, isn’t a big problem. The problem is the quick succession of feasts — including feasting on leftover goodies during the following days.
People do compensate for binges by eating less for some time afterward, but not less enough or for long enough to make up for the caloric surplus generated during the binge. Moreover, eating big late in the day makes it hard for your body to regulate your daily caloric intake: if you eat a big breakfast, you’ll probably eat less the rest of the day, but if you eat a big dinner, you aren’t likely to eat a lot less the next day.
Whereas the occasional feast might not cause too much fat gain, the many feasts and treats that pepper the holiday season do add up. This helps explain the steady weight gain people experience as they age.
Methods to minimize fat gain
We’ll now review two methods of minimizing fat gain: dietary awareness and food choice (the kind of foods to favor and the kind of foods to avoid).
Be aware of what you eat
Tracking what you eat and drink, or simply being more mindful of your food choices, is one way to minimize fat gain. Studies suggest that self-monitoring can prevent weight gain, and even promote weight loss.
Among members of the National Weight Control Registry, who have all maintained at least 30 pounds of weight loss for more than a year, holiday weight gain correlates with relaxed attention toward body weight and eating behaviors.
Among people enrolled in the Diabetes Prevention Program, only the consistent diet trackers (more than 67% of days tracked) lost weight through the holiday season; the other participants gained weight.
Over the year of a cognitive-behavioral weight-loss program, all men and women lost weight, but only the most consistent self-monitors did so even during the holidays, when most of the participants gained weight. As a follow-up intervention, calling and mailing people during the holidays to remind them to self-monitor increased self-monitoring and weight loss, both of which were again found to be correlated.
But let’s be frank: few people want to track their food intake, especially during the holidays, when hyper-palatable, calorie-dense dishes of deliciousness are plentiful and grandma will be so hurt if you refuse this second… third… okay, fourth slice of pie.
Being aware of what you eat, and tracking what you ate, can help you lose fat over the course of a year. If you’re really diligent, it can even help you lose fat during the holiday season!
Focus on protein, fiber, and water
If you balk at the idea of tracking what you eat and drink during a feast, another way to minimize fat gain is to favor foods rich in protein, fiber, and water (over, say, Aunt Mary’s brown-sugar-glazed sweet potatoes with marshmallows).
Of the three macronutrients, protein requires the most energy to digest, relative to the energy it provides:
Fat provides 9 Calories per gram, and its DIT is 0–3%.
Carbohydrate provides 4 Calories per gram, and its DIT is 5–10%.
Protein provides 4 Calories per gram, and its DIT is 20–30%.
Some of the calories in the food you ingest will be used to digest, absorb, and metabolize the rest of the food, and some will end burned off as heat. The overall process is known indifferently as dietary induced thermogenesis (DIT), thermic effect of food (TEF), or specific dynamic action (SDA).
DIT represents about 10% of the caloric intake of healthy adults eating a standard mixed diet, but your actual number will depend on various factors, such as your lean body mass and the size and composition of your meal.
Now, the effect of shifting your caloric intake from fat and carbs to protein is small: every 1% increase in calories from protein (and concomitant decrease in calories from fat/carbs) means a 0.22% increase in the meal’s total DIT. However, the studies used to calculate this value averaged a protein intake of only 16% of daily calories, with only 3 of 19 using an intake greater than 20%. This leaves open the possibility that binging on large amounts of protein could have a different effect. (Anyone who has done so can vouch for the “protein sweats” that seem to support this idea.)
You may find it harder to binge on protein-rich foods, though, for protein is especially satiating when it makes for 25–81% of a meal’s calories. One possible reason, especially for women, is protein’s higher DIT. Another reason is that amino acids, especially leucine, directly tell your brain you’re being fed, both by suppressing the “starvation-sensing” AMPK in your hypothalamus, your brain’s master appetite regulator, and by stimulating the mTOR signaling pathway, which is involved in protein synthesis, cell growth, and reproduction.
Protein has another advantage: it promotes fat loss over muscle loss. In another article, we’ve seen that if you’re overweight or obese, you should aim for 1.2–1.5 grams of daily protein per kilogram of body weight (0.54–0.68 g/lb). And if you’re of healthy weight but still wish to lose fat while conserving muscle, you should aim for 2.2–3.3 grams of daily protein per kilogram of body weight (1.00–1.50 g/lb).
Satiety is also where fiber and water come into play. Foods full of fiber and water, having low caloric density, promote appetite regulation. Simply eating a salad at the start of a meal can reduce your caloric intake for the whole meal.
There is actually a diet based on the satiating properties of high-fiber, high-water foods, called the Volumetrics diet. A study had obese women eat more water-rich food (e.g., fruit, vegetables, and soups) at the expense of fat-rich food. This Volumetrics group experienced less hunger and greater weight loss than the control group, who’d only been instructed to eat less fat-rich food.
A more recent trial of overweight and obese women evaluated Slimming World, a commercial diet program, with similar findings: compared to the women told to reduce their caloric intake, the women told to eat low-energy-density foods at will consumed fewer calories at dinner and from snacks, experienced less hunger, and lost more weight.
Calorie for calorie, foods rich in fiber and water take more space in the stomach and delay its emptying, which partly explains their satiating effect. The magnitude of this effect varies between individuals, for reasons that are still being investigated.
Foods higher in protein burn more calories (and spare muscle during weight loss). Foods higher in protein, fiber, and water increase satiety. Focusing on such foods (vegetables, lean meats …) will reduce your caloric intake during a binge.
Limit fat and alcohol
Now that you know which foods to favor to minimize fat gain, let’s consider which foods you might want to avoid.
First comes fat. Dietary fat is the macronutrient that can most easily increase your body fat: the two types of fat are essentially the same, so making the former into the latter is easy for your body. Dietary fat gets stored with 90–95% efficiency, compared to 75–85% efficiency for carbohydrate.
When you eat carbs, your body can, in order of priority, burn them for energy, store them as glycogen, burn them off as heat, or, as its very last choice, turn them into fat. So if you overeat with carbs as your main source of calories, the excess might not translate as fat gain.
When you eat protein, your body can, in order of priority, use it for protein synthesis and many other metabolic purposes, burn it for energy, or, rarely, turn it into glucose or fat. So, again, if you overeat with protein as your main source of calories, the excess might not translate as fat gain (especially since, as we saw, protein has a high DIT).
When you eat fat, however, your body has only two options: burn it for energy, if neither carbohydrate nor excess protein is available, or store it as fat (body fat is mostly stored energy; only a few grams of the stored essential fatty acids are needed daily for metabolic purposes). The unburned fat can only be stored, so if you overeat with fat as your main source of calories, even for just one day, the excess translates as fat gain.
Since your body will burn carbs and even excess protein before it burns fat, how much fat you eat won’t substantially affect how much carbs or protein you burn, but how much fat you burn will depend on how much carbs (and, to a lesser extent, protein) you eat. To put it another way, how much carbs and protein you eat will affect your total caloric intake, and if you consume more calories than you burn, then all the excess dietary fat gets stored.
Another problem with fat is its caloric density: 9 Calories per gram, versus 4 for protein and carbs. Just as their low caloric density makes high-fiber, high-water foods satiating, fat’s high caloric density makes it less satiating.
(Of course, the satiating effect of a given food doesn’t depend only on its macronutrient content, and different foods affect different people differently. In other words, if you find certain high-fat foods satiating, it doesn’t mean you’re weird or the science is wrong; it just means that human trials cannot test every possible variable.)
Alcohol’s caloric density (7 Calories per gram) is second only to fat’s, yet alcohol and fat are problematic for opposite reasons: when your body needs fuel, fat is its last choice; alcohol, its first. Therefore, the more alcohol you drink, the less carbohydrate, excess protein, and fat your body will burn, and so the more it’ll store. And to make fat gain even more likely, alcohol increases appetite and food intake to an even greater extent than do Netflix marathons or sleep restriction.
Dietary fat is more calorie-dense and, as a rule, less satiating than protein or carbs. Your body finds it easy to digest and store as body fat.
Your body prioritizes burning alcohol. As a result, you store more of the fat, protein, and carbs you consume. Alcohol also stimulates appetite, making you eat more.
Dealing with the fallout
When all is said and done, the best thing you can do after a binge is drink six to twelve glasses of lemon water with maple syrup and cayenne pepper.
The best thing you can do is, first, to avoid stressing out. Either go back to your normal eating habits or create an energy deficit the next day or two: eating 25% less than your maintenance caloric intake won’t much affect the hormones involved in regulating your appetite: you won’t get much hungrier, so you won’t likely start a hellish cycle of feasts and famines (also known as “yo-yo dieting”).
Starving yourself after Thanksgiving isn’t necessary, yet alternating periods of eating more and eating less could help you regain or maintain a healthy weight. Various types of intermittent fasting have been shown to help with losing weight safely, and they let you incorporate big satisfying meals into your routine.
Occasional overeating isn’t inherently unhealthy. To help mitigate weight gain, eat more of the veggies and lean meats to blunt your appetite before the desserts. Being aware of what you eat, favoring the foods rich in protein, fiber, and water, and minimizing alcohol and the foods rich in fat can help minimize fat gain when feasting.
If you wish to lose fat, dieting comes first, exercise second. No supplement will replace either, but some supplements can make both more efficient. To learn which supplements are backed by the evidence and how to take them (when, how much, and in what combinations), read our constantly updated Fat Loss guide.
No, you can’t actually gain weight from one day of overeating
Many people complain that they gain weight around the holidays, but you’ll be happy to know that you can’t really gain weight from a single meal or day of overeating. If you’re typically consuming an average of 2,000 calories per day, which is what most mildly active twenty-somethings should consume daily to maintain their current weight, you would have to eat 3,500 additional calories that day to gain just one pound of fat.
To give you a better sense of what 3,500 calories looks like in food form, consider this. You could eat your regular diet plus three glasses of wine (350 calories), two chicken wings (110 calories), some onion rings (340 calories), a portion of chips and queso (290 calories), a loaded burger (860 calories) and a slice of The Cheesecake Factory’s OG cheesecake (830 calories) and still have 720 calories to spare before you could potentially gain only one pound. That’s a lot of food. Most of us would probably feel sick before we’d be able to put down that amount of food in one sitting, even on Thanksgiving.
If you do step on the scale following Thanksgiving Day and notice that the number went up, don’t freak. The excess weight that you see is likely just water weight. Most high-calorie foods are also high in sodium and one of sodium’s jobs is to help your body regulate its fluid balance by retaining water. So when you eat a lot of sodium in one sitting, your body retains excess water, which causes you to bloat and may temporarily add a few extra pounds (even as much as five) to your regular body weight. But this bloating isn’t permanent and it’ll likely go down over the next couple of days, along with that number on the scale.
While people typically think that they gain an average of five to 10 pounds over the holiday period that runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, that is untrue for most folks. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the average weight that people gain during the winter holidays is just one pound. And this happens over the course of six weeks, not from one meal or day of overeating. Less than 10 percent of the study’s participants actually gained more than five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
So when that turkey dinner roles around, indulge without guilt knowing that it’ll take more than just one splurge for you to see a difference in your body. And don’t let this one indulgence derail you from your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, either. Just get back on track the next day and you’ll be good to go.
This article was originally published on Swirled.com in the Thrive section, which covers valuable career and personal finance content for Millennials.
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images
Contrary to popular belief, indulging in delicious food is a key part of living a healthy life. It’s simply not sustainable to never let yourself have something crave-worthy that offers approximately zero nutritional benefit, but tastes so good it’s like feeding your soul. The only issue is that overdoing it—even if it’s not necessarily on unhealthy food!—can leave you feeling bloated and sluggish. There can also be a creeping sense of guilt, even though overeating sometimes is normal and will in no way ruin your healthy-lifestyle goals. Here, 16 registered dietitians explain the physical, mental, and nutritional moves you can make after you eat too much, based on what actually works for them.
Related: 8 Sneaky Ways To Debloat In Just One Day
1. Grab a friend for a workout.
“I eat a healthy diet 90 percent of the time so I can enjoy a dessert, an extra glass of wine, or an indulgent meal a couple of times a week. But after overdoing it, I meet a friend to exercise—having a buddy ensures I’ll get that workout in. Then my friend and I grab a post-workout dinner where I pack in the vegetables and a piece of fish or shrimp for some lean protein.” —Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., founder of BZ Nutrition
2. Remember how great healthy food really is.
“We all overindulge from time to time. My number one rule is to hit the refresh button and start over—no guilt, no dwelling. I spend a few days focusing on whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. This helps ‘cleanse’ the palate and squash cravings for sweet and greasy foods.” —Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Nutrition Starring You
3. Commit to a quick rebound.
“The biggest predictor for long-term health success for me and my clients has been the idea of a quick rebound. Does your one overindulgent Friday night spiral into the weekend and then you get ‘back on the wagon’ on Monday? It’s always best to hit that reset button as soon as possible so you don’t let it get the best of you.” —Melissa Buczek Kelly, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., owner of MBK Nutrition & Wellness
4. Realize it’s really no big deal.
“Don’t view these occurrences as a major catastrophe. Doing so often results in thinking, ‘OK, may as well eat even more junky stuff since this day is lost as far as healthy consumption goes.’ Instead, I try to really enjoy the indulgence, make sure I’m sitting down and eating slowly, preferably with a cup of great coffee, really focus on what I’m eating, and then get back to my usual fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.” —Mindy Haar, Ph.D., R.D., C.D.N, and a fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Related: 11 Easy Ways To Eat Healthy When You’re Busy As Hell
5. Focus on water.
“I make sure to stay hydrated. That keeps me from mindlessly snacking, and I think of the extra bathroom trips as added exercise to my day. Most importantly, I remember that in the grand scheme of life, a few days or even weeks of overindulging are not going to make or break my health, weight, or overall wellbeing.” —Tory Tedrow R.D., C.N.S.C. for SugarChecked
6. Don’t judge yourself.
“I return my attention to my body’s signals and cues without judgement of the prior eating experience. I pay attention to what my body wants, but even if it isn’t really hungry, I still don’t skip a meal. I just eat something very light or have a green drink to get the nourishment without the extra calories and feelings of heaviness in the belly.” —Lori Montaigue, R.D.
7. Load your plate with plants.
“My tactic has been to go right back to eating a lot of plants, and I mean a lot. So for lunch, I have a massive salad with protein, avocado, and Italian-style tuna, along with two to three fruits a day, and more vegetables at dinner. I even start snacking on stuff like jicama with lime juice and chile salt. After a few days, I find that I crave fresh foods and my sugar cravings diminish.” —Abby Langer, R.D.
8. Check in with your body.
“I remember that it’s normal and that my body knows what to do with extra nutrients. I also like to check in with the feeling of over-fullness to help remind myself in the future that I love my body, and eating past what I need doesn’t feel good to me.” —Samantha Finkelstein, R.D., founder of Nerdy Girl Nutrition
The 8 Most Effective Ways to Get Back on Track After You Messed Up (And Finally Stay There).
1. Identify the root cause of your failure.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
– Albert Einstein
Popular advice on how to get back on track with your life typically starts off with tactics.
Whilst these may help you in the short-term, you’ll find that in most cases a few weeks or months later, you’ll be back to your old ways once again.
This is simply because the root cause of ‘why’ you messed up was never identified and addressed first.
What was your emotional state at the time of the slip-up? What thoughts were running through your mind before you fell off track? What was going on in your life when you made that mistake?
If you do enough due diligence, you’ll discover that there are common triggers that cause you to fail.
These include but are not limited to the following:
- Stress from life changes and relationship issues.
- Boredom and frustration with lack of progress.
- Injury or illness.
- Drastic change in environment i.e. vacation, going to a specific venue, change in home address etc.
- Trying to do too much too quickly.
Take some time off to reflect on and identify the triggers that cause your habits to fail. You may uncover some unique strategies that work well for you.
For example, if you discover that the boredom of eating the same food everyday caused you to binge eat, then you could try fitting in new healthy recipes, meal times and so on to deal with this.
As simple and obvious as this may seem, this will lay the proper foundation for the other strategies to help you get back on track and stick with your habits over the long run.
Quick note: In the upcoming Procrastination Masterclass, I’ll be sharing simple strategies to help you use proven psychology to identify the root cause of bad habits, stop procrastinating and get things done with less effort.
2. Create a Schedule and stick to it
Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.
– Peter Drucker
Do you have a schedule to fit in these habits in your life? If not, you should seriously consider doing so.
The power of having a schedule cannot be overstated.
For example, I know that every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I will be in my local gym at 7.30 a.m. for my prepared strength training workout.
If for whatever reason, I mess up and miss my workout on Wednesday, I already have a schedule and plan in place to get back on track for the Friday workout.
Business carries on as usual because the decision-making process has already been made.
I already know exactly what, where and when I will be taking action next time.
Practice: If you haven’t already done this, simply block and fit in your habits into your calendar.
Be very specific about what you will be doing, where it will take place and when you will be making it happen.
A pro-tip here is to build in buffer zones in your calendar to allow for potential slip-ups and failures.
Sticking to a schedule will help prevent you from beating yourself up after messing up, re-engage with and stay focused on the habit at the next opportune time.
3. Use your current habits to restart the behaviour
Instead of building the habit back up from scratch, why not use the momentum of your current habits?
Typically, our habits follow a behaviour pattern set off by a trigger or reminder.
For example, let’s say immediately after you get home from work, you walk into your bedroom, change into comfortable clothes, sit down on your couch and watch your favourite TV show.
In this scenario, your current habit of walking into your bedroom immediately after getting back home from work triggers your next habit of changing from your work clothes to more comfortable clothing which also triggers the next habit—watching your favourite TV show.
Obviously, this could be counterproductive behavior especially if you’re trying to be more productive and go to the gym in the evening.
To avoid falling into this unproductive relaxation mode and restart your exercise habit, after you walk into your bedroom, you could change into workout clothing.
Then after putting on your running shoes, immediately turn around and walk outside the house to go for a run or to the gym.
This strategy can also be applied to any other habits you’re trying to get back on track with consistently.
Simply look for current habits you already have on autopilot and use them as a reminder for those you would like to build up again.
4. Get Back to the basics
It’s tempting to try to do too much too quickly, especially when you’re trying to get back on track quickly. But, this is usually counterproductive for making progress.
Depending on how far you’ve slipped up, you may have to get back to the bare basics and build up overtime to a sustainable routine.
Are you trying to get back on track with your diet? Instead of worrying so much about strict diets and foods to avoid, why not focus on portion sizes and tracking simple calories for now.
Are you trying to get back on track with your writing? Instead of worrying so much about finishing that in-depth article or book, why not focus on writing a few basic journal pieces for now.
I’m sure you can think of several relatable examples in your life.
The key point here is to strip the complexity from the habit and make it as difficult as possible to not get started consistently.
5. Embrace imperfect starts
“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
― Margaret Atwood
So often we think we need to have everything in the perfect order before we can get started—the perfect work out, the perfect tools, the perfect plan and so on.
The mindset behind this thinking is that the only way to do things in the beginning is the ‘best’ way. But, is this true?
If you’d like to start meditating again, is it better to wait to figure out the best techniques or simply just go into a quiet room, sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breath?
If you’d like to start eating healthy again, is it better to wait till you have the perfect strict diet to eat clean 7 days a week or eat healthy 3 days a week with the occasional off days?
Instead of worrying about “doing it right” the first time, why not simply get started right now.
Once you get back on track and build up consistency with the habit, you can figure out how to do it better overtime.
Remember it’s easier to make changes once you’re already in motion.
6. Change your environment
Is your current environment designed for success or failure?
Your immediate environment doesn’t just include people, but also items, colours, sounds and the like, that trigger your behaviours.
Most importantly, a well designed environment can help you change your habits without relying too much on willpower or fickle motivation.
On the flip-side, a poorly designed environment will cause your habits to fail time and time again.
For example, keeping bags of chips and cookies around your bedroom and kitchen cupboard makes it easier for you to binge eat and snack late at night.
Ideally, we would like our environment to work to our advantage.
Here are a few examples of how to use this to get back on track with your habits…
- Want to get bed earlier and sleep more? An hour before bed, turn off all electronics and have a book in hand to read till you sleep.
- Want to eat more green vegetables? Use dark green plates (or darker colours in general). Research has shown that we tend to eat more portions of food types that match the colour of the plates we use.
- Want to exercise more? Pack your gym clothes in a bag the night before the workout and place them right next to your bedroom door.
Evidently, what works best for me may not work best for you.
I’ve personally discovered that I get much more out of my writing and workouts whenever I have my headphones plugged in with music playing.
On the off days that I don’t use this strategy, my productivity doesn’t quite reach it’s peak levels.
This is a subtle environmental change I make on a daily basis that helps me stick to my habits and make consistent progress everyday.
Make the necessary changes to your environment to make it easier for you get back on track quickly.
7. Keep yourself accountable.
It can be a real challenge to get back on track, particularly if you don’t have any accountability to anyone who is ‘counting’ on you to show up.
These people are easy to find. They could be members of a public or private forum, your friends or family, teammates and work colleagues. Or, even yourself.
An effective way to keep yourself accountable is to start a journal.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you could create a notebook where you keep a ‘food journal.’ Inside this journal, you could write down the date and number of days completed including what you eat as well as your cravings and struggles.
As the number of days gets higher, you’ll naturally try your best to keep the chain of days going without messing up.
If you do actually mess up, you could use your notes to look for trends and uncover the root causes of the failure to prevent it from happening again.
8. Try a different approach
If you’ve tried and messed up on sticking to a habit several times in the past, you should consider trying a different approach.
For example, if weight loss goal setting discourages you from taking action, you could try taking action without the goals and focus instead on building systems that will give you similar results as a by-product i.e. workouts per week, meals per day and so on.
Likewise, if waking up at 5 a.m. in the morning to start writing or working on your business causes you to burnout after a couple of week, you could try working at 11 a.m instead.
Sometimes, what works for most people, including best practices may not work well for you.
Mix things up and find a different approach that meshes well with you.
Sometimes, trying different approaches may not work because the initial reasons and passion for sticking to the habit are no longer as important to you as they used to be.
If this is the case, you may need to make the difficult decision to let go of that particular habit for now.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Back on Track
“Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” — Mary Pickford
We’ve all messed up and fallen behind on our goals—yes, that includes the people you look up to and aspire to be like, they’re not superhuman either.
It’s not always easy to get back on track, but it is possible if you make a commitment to do so.
Some days you will feel like you’re making forward progress, whilst on the other days it will seem like you’re taking two steps backwards.
No matter the case, in the grand scheme of things, if you get back on track when you mess up, grind it out and stick to the plan, you may actually end up even further ahead than you ever imagined.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to get more well-researched, straight to the point strategies to stick to good habits and get back on track quickly after slip-ups, join the free newsletter here.
- 3 Scientifically Proven Ways to (Permanently) Break Your Bad Habits.
1. This strategy is more formally known as implementation intention. An implementation intention is when you state your intention to implement a particular behaviour at a specific time in the future. There have been several hundred of studies showing the successful use of implementation intentions for positive results in helping people stick to their exercise habits and even vaccination shots. Here’s a study on how this was used to help people eat healthier diet.
2.You can read more on this experiment, conducted by Brian Wansink from Cornell University and Koert van Ittersum from the Georgia Institute of Technology, showcasing the effect of using plates of different colours on eating habits.
There is a pretty strict set of rules throughout my paleo programs but it’s not just about what you’re eating or not eating. I want people to focus on changing the language they use to reflect their ever growing healthy bodies and minds. Thus, there are a few terms I like to avoid entirely including ‘failure’ and ‘falling off the wagon.’ I call these the ‘F-words,’ and they’re out of the picture. Instead, I encourage my program participants to use the term ‘speed bump.’
In the instance of deviating from the meal plan, stress or emotional eating, a sugar binge, or less-than-stellar food choices in general, a speed bump encompasses exactly what it is – something we get over! Sometimes, it can be a little rough and even catch you by surprise, but you don’t have to stay slowed down. You can pick up and keep moving forward.
While you can change the words you use, how do you change your actions?
Moving past a speed bump is easier said than done, and there’s a lot that goes into why you ended up facing that hurdle in the first place, let alone how you keep pushing and prevent it from happening in the future. Fortunately, I have some great tips on how to deal with the inevitable setback, and how to use those moments when you feel defeated to grow and continue reaching your goals.
1) Remove guilt from the equation
You know what guilt makes better? Nothing at all. It adds a whole lot of perpetual emotion to an already uncomfortable situation, and it tends to push you into a place where you’re using terms like ‘failure’ to describe what happened. Guilt takes a blow at you self-esteem and influences the choices you make following a speed bump. I want to ensure that you’re in a positive place after a setback, so that you can keep moving forward. Accept the situation and move on. It’s not as easy to do as it is to conceptualise, but it IS possible with practice.
2) Start over at the next meal
Sometimes, you speed bumps extend themselves graciously from one meal to one week. You know how it goes. It’s that, “I’ll start over on Monday” mentality, which closely ties into diet mentality. That’s a big no-no!
Feeling restricted or feeling like you’re under a time limit to squeeze in all that unhealthy eating gives you an excuse to continue with your indulgence. It’s okay to hit a speed bump that lasts a little longer than you intend it to, but keep in mind the best time to “start over” is at the next meal.
If you’re feeling uninspired to do so, head to the store and pick up some of the most colourful produce you can find. Get excited to get in the kitchen by looking up a new recipe. Load up on green veggies to help replenish and feel nourished. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow or next week. Try my simple kale, chicken and apple salad.
3) Write about what happened
Why did you hit that speed bump? Many of us could afford to improve our relationship with food. Often, we associate it with comfort, whether that’s childhood memories of cozy batches of chocolate chip cookies or a glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of a long day or week. In essence, it’s a habit that forces us into a place where we don’t necessarily grant ourselves the opportunity to even make a decision. Before we know it, we’re staring down at an empty plate without remembering how we got there. Write it down.
If you’re prone to stress eating or emotional eating, processing those emotions before the binge (preventative) or after the binge (to help identify your trigger) can be incredibly helpful. Perhaps, you’ll uncover motivators you’d never thought to question before. That way, you have an idea of what your patterns are in the future.
4) Action versus reaction
Think about it: we are prone to reaction – because we are only human after all – which tends to diminish our ability to actually take action. This is especially true if you find that your speed bumps are caused by emotional triggers or stress. Naturally, our response is based in emotion, which elicits a reaction.
Whether that is sadness, fear, guilt, anxiety or anger, it tends to cloud your judgment, and you’re prone to take less action than you should. Instead, make a plan! You can take my tip and journal about it or cook a healthy meal. Alternatively, you could take a walk or talk to a friend about it just to vent. When you’re struggling to make healthier choices, it’s very important to be proactive. When you take action, that becomes habit, which makes it easier to bounce back in the future.
5) Be gentle
In the same vein as removing the guilt, it’s important to be gentle with yourself. Often, we think that “tough love” is the way to go. Especially in food and fitness, this approach is regarded as a highly motivating one. While that works for some people, it tends to add fuel to the fire after a setback. Why kick yourself when you’re down?
If you’re feeling a bit low, you might get sucked into a pattern of negative self-talk. Instead, resolve to be gentle. Practice daily affirmations, write down positive aspects of yourself that you appreciate, take a moment to journal about what you’re grateful for and avoid beating yourself up over it. That way, you can move forward with a clear head and an optimistic outlook that accommodates you reaching your goals.
6) Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a skill above all. It’s hard to get into the habit of doing, but once you do, it’s worth it. This is especially true when you apply mindfulness to eating. Association and habit have a lot to do with poor eating habits, and they’re pretty sneaky when we’re putting in a valiant effort to improve those habits and eat better.
Mindful eating can help you recognise natural hunger cues, savour the healthy meals you are eating and make better decisions when you’re overcome with the compulsive decision to pick up something sweet on the way home from work. Moreover, mindfulness can reduce stress which is a great way to prevent speed bumps in the first place.
What is your top tip to move past a nutritional speed bump and keep on track with your goals? Share with me below! If you’re ready to reset and get back to try, make sure to check out one of my paleo programs here.
How to Bounce Back After a Food Binge
‘Tis the season to overdo it with stuffing, turkey, buttery rolls, and pie, pie, and more pie. With all the office parties, cookie swaps, and holiday potlucks (just us?) this time of year, it’s especially hard to avoid overeating. But really, stuffing yourself rotten isn’t limited to the holidays. Sometimes that late-night frozen pizza somehow becomes single-serving with gut-busting repercussions.
Hey, it happens to the best of us. But the real problem is usually what happens after—in our body and our mind.
Are you filled with regret, dejectedly pondering starting a juice cleanse? Or do you feel the urge to go for broke, double down, and top it all off with a big bowl of froyo (or maybe a big bowl of Reese’s, mochi, Captain Crunch, and rainbow sprinkles)? Do you wallow in the damage for hours or even days?
And physically, do you fall into a food coma? Get that feeling like your food has turned to concrete in your abdomen and/or suffer from hours of nausea and discomfort?
Don’t fret. Sometimes reframing the situation and having an action plan is all you need to rebound ASAP.
Emotionally: Reframe the Sitch
It can be easy, post-gluttony, to beat yourself up. Things like “no self-control,“ “lazy,” and “gross” can get thrown around. Maybe you run five miles and end up making yourself sick. Or swear off eating for an entire day. It’s super easy to treat your body to all types of abuse post-gorgefest, but here’s where taking a step outside yourself is critical.
As the custodian for your body, you’re responsible for its care—just like you’d be responsible for a child that you’re babysitting. Imagine finding this kid knee-deep in candy bar wrappers, halfway into an all-out candy binge. Caught red-handed, this kid looks up at you, terrified, ashamed, awaiting punishment. What do you do? Do you yell insults at the child? March him or her over to the treadmill to run off every last calorie? Of course not. You’re not Mommie Dearest. With that in mind, let any name calling and punishment stop. You will treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat this child.
Why is this helpful? In his book The Marshmallow Test, psychologist and Columbia professor Walter Mischel describes how emotional situations like this can stay in a heated place, which could lead to more self-destructive or self-punishing behavior. To counter that, it helps to cool your distress by “self distancing” and entering into “cognitive reappraisal.” In other words, viewing yourself from a distance or as another (e.g. a child) helps engage a cool, rational reaction where you can regroup and rebound.
So what should you do to regroup? We’re glad you asked…
Physically: Your Immediate Action Plan
Let’s handle the physical symptoms for bloating and food coma first.
Don’t: Let the weight of your food baby take you down for the count (or straight to the couch). Lying down can give you heartburn and other gastro issues. It can even aggravate respiratory issues for people with asthma.
Do: Get moving. Light exercise is the best thing you can do to help your body bounce back. Operative word: light. Jogging around the block might not be smart, thanks to the high barf factor, but taking a walk can do a world of good. Not only does it speed up digestion, it’ll also even out your blood sugar and clear glucose out of your bloodstream. Another idea is light yoga. Certain twisting poses have been known to assist and alleviate digestive woes.
Don’t: Drink alcohol or coffee. Knocking back a boozy “digestif” drink after a calorie rager is a common practice for many, but they don’t actually assist with digestion. In fact, alcohol can pump the breaks on your body’s digestive process. Coffee may swing you back up from a food slump with a jolt of caffeine, but it also doesn’t do any good for digestion.
Do: Drink water, seltzer, or teas. It might seem counterintuitive to drink water when your belly is full to bursting, but H2O helps move along digestion.It can also battle sodium and carb bloat, and it’s a preemptive strike against any post-gluttony constipation. You can also try seltzer, which is proven to relieve indigestion. Herbal teas with ginger, peppermint, and fennel have been shown to ease that I’m-so-stuffed feeling. In short, keep these liquids coming.
Looking Ahead: Your Back-in-the-Game Action Plan
OK, you’ve got your head on straight and you’ve forgiven this entirely human moment of overdoing it. And after hitting the two W’s (water and walking) and letting a few hours lapse, your overstretched gut feels like it’s returned to its normal size. Now what can you do to move forward from this food bender beyond the short-term? Start with this rebound checklist:
1. Plan your next healthy meal
Like we said before, it’s easy to rebound from a gluttonous moment and overreact by shunning food. But don’t let the pendulum swing to the other extreme. Ground yourself with a healthy meal that fits right in with your life pre-bender. Keep in mind, skipping meals can trigger another trip to Taco Town. Even if you’re not hungry, simply planning your next meal is a powerful act of self-care that can remind you that food is not public enemy No. 1.
2. Plan your next workout
Yes, you don’t want to go for a jog right after you did a faceplant into your mom’s pumpkin pie, but scheduling your next workout is also a strong reminder that after this gluttonous interlude, you’re getting back to your normal fitness routine. It’s also a great affirmation of how you see yourself: You are not defined by this food bender. For example, you could say, “I am not only the person who ate all the pumpkin pie. I am also a runner. A runner that just ate lots of pie. But a runner nonetheless.“
3. Get some perspective
The world is bigger than a bag of chips (or several bags). And this moment of indulgence is but a blip on the radar of life. Tune in to larger issues: Read a newspaper, a book, or even your old journals. There are bigger things to occupy your mind than this moment.
4. Call a friend or hug it out
Sometimes food benders come from a place of loneliness or discomfort. If you’ve realized your spree was triggered by these feelings, don’t ignore them just because “the damage is done.” Reach out to friends, hug it out, and get the companionship you need. Feed this emotional hunger. Likewise if you look back on a holiday or family celebration and realize you were stress-eating through it, give yourself the tools you need to de-stress and unpack some of that. And of course if you spot a reoccurring pattern with overeating, getting professional help from a therapist or counselor can be incredibly helpful.
Admit that overdoing it on food is the human condition. We all have our moments. How could we not, in a world where cronuts exist? As a popular inspirational quote says, “You are not defined by your mistakes, but your reaction.” Or as a wise kitten once said, “Hang in there!” Getting back on that healthy-eating horse is as easy as practicing a little self-care.
Overeating and overdrinking on Turkey Day are inevitable but the last thing you want is the Thanksgiving rolls you ate to actually turn into fat rolls. Here are 7 tips to help you recover from a binge and get your diet back on track.
It is so easy to overeat despite our best intentions. But don’t panic! It happens to the best of us. Unfortunately, all that excess can leave us feeling bloated, nauseous, guilty and sad. Remember we are all human and indulging is a part of life. The best thing you can do is to quickly get your healthy eating habits back on track. Follow these 7 tips to regain control and do not let a moment of weakness ruin your nutritional progress!
First thing, be kind to yourself. Enjoy the moment, accept it as a temporary divergence, and move on. If you’re feeling down, negative feelings are likely to multiply. This can lead to more self-destructive or self-punishing behavior. Take a deep breath and go easy on yourself. The next time you have a treat, practice savoring and enjoying it.
A New Zealand study of 300 people found that people who associate eating chocolate cake with guilt were less successful in maintaining their weight compared with those who viewed it as a celebration.
You’re most probably retaining water from salt and overeating. Weighing yourself won’t give you an accurate measure of your weight. Also, stop inspecting and judging your body in front of the mirror. Both these actions will probably just agitate you.
You can’t change the past, but you can influence your future
Digestion begins in the brain. Simply seeing food can lead to a seriously strong desire to eat it, even if you’re not hungry. Get rid of all the leftovers that are not part of your healthy eating plan. Give them away or sent them to the trash. If the trigger foods are gone, there is no way for them to trigger another binge.
Don’t let the weight of your food baby take you straight down to the couch. Lying down can give you heartburn and other gastro issues. Use all the excess energy to your advantage and get moving! And I don’t mean that you run a marathon or suffer on the elliptical for three hours straight. Those things will probably cause you to throw up. Instead, opt in for a light exercise.
The best thing you can do straight after a binge is to go for a nice long walk. It will even out your blood sugar and clear glucose out of your bloodstream. What’s even more important than burning off those calories is that exercise can reduce your appetite and cravings for additional sugar. Walking will also aid in digestion.
What’s more, research shows that exposure to sunlight can improve alertness – something you may be lacking once that blood-sugar crash kicks in. Another good idea is to do light yoga. Certain twisting poses have been known to assist and alleviate digestive woes.
Don’t skip breakfast. This is one of the WORST things you can do!
It’s easy to rebound from a binge and overreact by shunning food. But don’t swing to the other extreme. Consuming large quantities of sugar, and then not eating can send your blood sugar levels soaring and then crashing down, leading to low blood sugar and irritability. This can easily lead to another binge and feelings of hopelessness.
The trick is to keep your breakfast light. Make a protein & veggie-packed breakfast like an omelet or eat some greek yogurt with fresh berries. Eating breakfast is important as it kickstarts your metabolism. It can also get you into the right mindset that will allow you to resume your healthy eating schedule.
No matter how many calories you consume during your binge, chances are you’ll feel hungry again soon after due to your rapidly declining blood sugar levels. The goal is to stabilize your blood sugar by fueling your body with meals high in protein and fat. This sends a signal to your body that you’re not in starvation mode and do not need to store the extra glucose as fat. You may want to take a tablespoon of flax oil, coconut oil or a handful of nuts, right after your binge to help prevent a crash.
When you’re hungry again, eat. Satisfy your appetite with a low calorie, high-protein snack. Have an apple with peanut butter, a hard-boiled egg, or some Greek yogurt. These are low in simple sugars and will help you feel full until your next meal.
Eating probiotic-rich foods such as kombucha, fermented vegetables, yogurt or kefir – can also help settle and support your digestion.
It might seem counterintuitive to drink water when your belly is bloated but fluids are key since extra salt, sugar, and alcohol can dehydrate your body. Start your morning with a tall glass of water and keep drinking throughout the day. Aim for 2-3 liters a day. Water helps move along digestion. It can also battle sodium and carb bloat and aid with constipation.
You can also try green tea and lemon. Both are diuretics, which means you will take more bathroom breaks. While you’re not directly eliminating sugar, you are forcing your blood to pump through your kidneys faster. Teas also help to ease that “I’m so stuffed feeling” and make you feel better. So keep these liquids coming!
YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY YOUR MISTAKES, BUT YOUR REACTION
Overdoing it on food is the human condition. We all have our moments. How could we not, in a world where Dunkin’ Donuts exist? The most important thing is to remember that your slip-up is not an excuse to forget all about your healthy eating goals. As a popular inspirational quote says, “You are not defined by your mistakes, but your reaction.” I hope these 7 tips have helped. Remember, always look forward!
Keep in mind, this isn’t just for Thanksgiving. These are excellent tips for getting back on track anytime you get a little derailed.
Do you have any other tips and tricks for bouncing back after a food binge? Let us know in the comments below!
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How to Bounce Back After A Binge
By Jamie Webber
Most of us in the US spent yesterday doing one thing and one thing only: Eating. It was Thanksgiving, and while it really is a special time to reflect on what you are grateful for, it’s also a time to enjoy friends and family around a dinner table filled with lots of wonderful homemade food ranging from the turkey to stuffing (or dressing, whichever you like to call it) to mashed potatoes to pecan pie. A few vegetable sides are typically thrown in there too, but when you add it all up, it’s almost impossible to practice portion control during this meal. And in my opinion, I don’t think you have to. You deserve to enjoy a delicious dinner with the ones you love as long as you are able to bounce back the next day and get right back on your healthy eating routine.
I admit it, I definitely overate last night. But I’ve already made a pumpkin pie smoothie this morning, so I’m staying festive but also adding a heavy dose of nutrients to my body to start my day on the right foot. If you need some assistance bouncing back today, I’ve compiled some of the best tips that our Reboot nutritionists have shared over the years to help us get back on track after overeating. Here are the best ways to avoid the downward spiral into the “what’s one more piece of pie?” zone.
From Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
1. Eat Normally
I find that often people try to compensate for eating a large meal the night before by eating less than usual the following day to try to make up for it; however, this is the wrong approach. To get back on track, you have to get back to your usual healthy eating routine. This helps to get fluid balance back in order, and also helps to get digestion back on track.
2. Incorporate Foods with Natural Diuretic Properties
- Parsley: Try our Garden Garnish Juice
- Asparagus: Learn all about the amazing benefits of asparagus
- Lettuces: Try a Pineapple Green Juice that contains romaine lettuce
- Ginger: Try our anti-inflammatory concoction with lemon and ginger to start your day
- Cucumbers: Eat them with a healthy dip in place of, or in addition to carrots and celery
- Beets: Enjoy this Spicy & Sweet Beet Smoothie
Read the rest of Isabel’s tips here.
From Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
3. Ditch the Guilt
Feeling guilty is a useless exercise. This is more than likely going to send you back to the fridge. It’s better to use this energy to think about what great healthy things are happening next!
4. Don’t Go Crazy with Leftovers
You really enjoyed every dish at your Thanksgiving meal, but let’s not repeat that behavior for the next few nights. This can cause you to over consume extra calories because you don’t want to waste it. Often it’s more about what we do after our holiday that can set up us for that post-holiday bulge. Portion the leftovers out, take leftovers to work, social events, to your neighbors, homeless shelters, care homes or just try and make sure you don’t make too much food (if possible!).
5. Do a Post-Holiday Reboot
Getting back into the swing of things can be largely helped with a big fat glass of juice. As we know here at Reboot, drinking juice and juice cleansing can be a very quick way to reset your hunger signals to get your body back in balance. Doing a short 5 – 15 day cleanse can be just what you need to stay healthy through the holidays. We have a Guided Reboot that starts December 1st to help you do just that. Sign up before it’s too late!
Claire shares more tips here.
From Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN
6. Drink More Water
Drink at least 32 ounces or more than usual. Being under hydrated can lead to an increase in cravings for sweets and salts. Plus we need extra water to help our body process alcohol and excess food out of our system that we consumed the night before.
7. Get Moving
Go outside for a walk and enjoy the autumn weather. Or meet a friend at the mall and get ready to shop Black Friday sales. Once the madness is over, try taking a yoga or pilates class.
8. Eat Breakfast
Start your day off right with a healthy breakfast. Not only can it get your metabolism going, it’s one of the 4 key behaviors identified as crucial for maintaining weight loss.
9. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Digestion begins in the brain so seeing food can lead to a stronger desire to eat it, even if you’re not hungry. Get rid of leftovers that are not part of your healthy eating plan. Send food home with guests!
Get more of Stacy’s helpful tips here.
The most important rule to follow if you ate too much on Thanksgiving? LET IT GO!
We’ve all been there: that happy hour glass of wine turns into three, which turns into ordering a pizza when you get home and polishing it off with some ice cream in your freezer.
Whether you’ve overdone it on one cheat meal or an entire weekend, there are some steps you can take to help undo the damage and get back on track with your healthy eating habits. POPSUGAR talked to several dietitians who revealed their best tips.
First things first: don’t beat yourself up the next day after a particularly indulgent night. Life happens, and a highly caloric meal or day of eating isn’t going to completely undo all of your progress.
“Resist the urge to mentally say things like you hate yourself for what you ate the day before,” said Maggie Michalczyk, RDN. “We’ve all been there and your body hears what your mind thinks, so ignore the guilt that creeps into your mind and remind yourself it’s a new day; you are human and you are strong enough to get right back to making strong, healthy choices the next day.”
Katie Kissane, MS, RD, CSSD, owner of NoCo Sports Nutrition and Fitness, agrees. “Let go of any guilt associated with overeating,” she said. “If you hold onto the guilt of overeating, it can lead to a vicious cycle of guilt and overeating. This could mean that one day of overeating leads for several days.” She added if you overeat one day, your body might naturally want to eat less the next day, so it’s important to trust your body and practice intuitive eating.
Drink Lots of Water
If you drank one too many cocktails the night before or indulged in your favorite salty snacks, your body needs more water to recover. Lauren O’Connor, MS, RD, owner of Nutri Savvy Health, said to drink one to two glasses of water as soon as you wake up, and drink plenty throughout the day; aim for eight to 10 glasses.
In addition to drinking plenty of water, Maggie suggested loading up on water-heavy hydrating foods, such as lettuce, cucumber, strawberries, and peppers.
Move Your Body
The last thing you probably want to do if you’re hungover (or have a sugar hangover) is work out. But getting in a workout will not only help you feel better, it will also get you back on track.
“Find time to exercise, whether it’s a morning hike or a cardio class,” Lauren recommended. “Get those endorphins going and get back to your exercise routine.”
Maggie said even something as simple as going for a walk will get your body moving and help give yourself some mental clarity, too.
Don’t Skip Meals
You may think skipping meals and cutting back on calories will make up for all the extra calories you ate the day before, but it can actually backfire and create a cycle of restriction and overeating, Katie explained.
“Instead, I suggest focusing on clean and healthy eating for several days after eating too much,” she said. “By focusing on eating several servings of vegetables and balancing three meals with lean protein choices and limiting sugar, this can decrease overall calorie intake without trying starving.”
Maggie also recommended incorporating protein and fiber at every meal to help keep you fuller longer and aid in digestion. Try quinoa, chickpeas, black beans, fruits, and vegetables. Some healthy fats, such as walnuts and avocados, will also keep you satisfied, explained Lauren.
Go to Bed Early
Especially if you were out late the night before, getting enough sleep is essential.
“Get in bed at a reasonable time for plenty of sleep,” Lauren said. “Research suggests that lack of sleep can cause cravings the following day due to rise in cortisol levels.”
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Diggy Lloyd
6 WAYS TO GET BACK ON TRACK AFTER A BINGE
1 Don’t beat yourself up over it. This is the most important message yet. Okay, you ate more than usual. You might be feeling embarrassed, ashamed, or just mad at yourself. But get over it! It happened, and there is no point in wallowing in the past. Because in the grand scheme of things, you have a million more meals to eat in life, and this was just one that went awry. So big deal! You indulged. You lived. And you survived. The way I typically work through it is through positive affirmations, meaning, as cheesy as it sounds, talking to myself in a very lovingly way, “I am not defined by the food I ate. I enjoyed my food, I enjoyed the company, I lived my life, and now let me move forward and start feeling good again.” The more positive self talk you can give yourself, the better. And ain’t nothing cheesy about loving on yourself. So let’s move right along.
2 Eat a healthy breakfast. It’s tempting to think about eating less to compensate for a binge. But that’s not how it works. I recommend starting your day with a nutritious breakfast to keep you full and satiated throughout the day. This is especially true if you binged on sugary or salty foods. A proper breakfast is one that is balanced in terms of protein, carbs, and fats. A smart choice? Try some plain oatmeal then mix in a tablespoon of almond butter, and a handful of berries. Another really great idea is to make eggs any style, ½sweet potato, ½avocado, and some fruit. The point is, don’t continue a downward spiral by starting your day with a sugary Pop Tart.
3 Get your sweat on. This is hard for a lot of people because when you wake up post binge, you feel bloated, sluggish, and gross. I’m speaking from experience. But the best thing you can do for yourself is IGNORE those feelings, toss your gym clothes on, and go sweat. Don’t’ feel like being around other people? No biggie. Lace up your tennies and go for a walk. The point is just to get your blood flowing and those good endorphins going again so that your mind shifts back into a more positive space. Exercise is not a punishment for what you ate; it’s for your mental well-being, and to make you feel physically strong. It’s also good for digestion. A sluggish body will make it difficult to release toxins.
4 Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You might be tempted to go for every caffeinated beverage in sight. I’m not one to tell you not to do anything, but I recommend limiting caffeine. Why? Because it’s a good idea to flush your body out! Water helps aid the digestive process, and it’s even more important after overindulging. So how much water you should drink daily? Again, every person is different, but I ALWAYS recommend more than the minimum 64oz daily. I need twice that amount, but just listen to your body. I also recommend drinking water even when you aren’t thirsty. Water helps keep you full, and helps you determine whether you’re hungry or just having a craving. If you drink water and 10 minutes later you’re still hungry, it’s hunger! Go eat some nutritious food!
5 Tell someone about what happened. I’m sure I’m losing almost all of you with this one. Because when we eat too much, whether in public or in private, we tend to feel shameful. The biggest part in my recovery journey happened when I dropped the shame and started being open about it. All. The. Time. Because trust me when I tell you that there is nothingto be ashamed of. So you’re struggling with food. Let others in! They might not have any answers and that’s okay – the healing (and making smarter choices) is simply in the sharing.
6 And last, but certainly not least, don’t weigh yourself. Or toss that scale away all together. One, you aren’t defined by numbers on a scale, and two, what BENEFIT could possibly come from weighing yourself post binge? Nada, so don’t go there. Instead, focus on the steps above, practice self-compassion, and think about moving forward.
I hope these tips have helped. Have others that have worked for you? Share by leaving a comment!
How Do You Get Back on Track?
So, you overdid it. You ate too much. We’ve all been there: you ended up binging on anything you could stuff your face with over the weekend. Thankfully, there’s no need to dwell on guilt and regret. You fell off the wagon and made a mistake like the human being that you are. No worries, you can get back on track!
You binged. Now what?
Before you go and have gastric sleeve surgery, try following these tips to get back on track to a healthier you:
- Let it go. Dwelling on a binge will only make it worse and could lead to a pattern of overeating down the road. Move on from guilt and look toward getting your routine under control.
- Don’t starve yourself as punishment. Eating is not a habit you can give up. Depriving the body only triggers your hunger reflex as your body tries to restore the low energy caused by lack of nutrients. Plus, skipping food following a binge creates the desire to overeat again.
- Don’t weigh yourself. Weight can vary from day-to-day, or even throughout the day, and depends on many factors (e.g., water retention, too much salt, whether you’ve had a bowel movement, etc.). Focusing on the scale only emphasizes your binge and can undermine your efforts.
- Eat foods designed to satisfy. Fiber and fluids (preferably water) will fill you up and help food move through your system. Choices such as vegetables and complex carbohydrates are part of healthy eating, and they win out over reaching for calorie-dense, high-fat fare.
- Forget about alcohol and coffee. Water is the beverage that powers digestion. Alcohol can actually slow the digestive process and while coffee is helpful for a hit of caffeine to counter a food slump, it doesn’t help digestion, either.
- Engage in mindful eating. Mindful eating will help teach you to eat for hunger (not for emotional reasons). A review of relevant studies has shown that the technique of mindfulness improves behaviors, such as binge eating and emotional eating.
- Keep a diet diary. Writing things down has a powerful effect. You become accountable for your habits, especially when you see proof in “black and white.” Keeping track of your daily food intake also helps you evaluate exactly what and when you eat.
- Exercise. Light cardio does more than just burn calories; it gets the blood and food moving through the digestive system. Studies have shown that exercise can also suppress the appetite. In addition, ambient movement (like walking a few laps or taking the stairs) burns calories as well as helps you resist food temptation.
- Get enough sleep. A good seven to eight hours of healthy sleep helps you avoid the food cravings caused by fatigue. Sleep-deprived people needing a boost of energy tend to reach for foods high in sugar and fat.
- Get support. Tap into friends or family with whom you can share your quest for good eating and a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s talking about your eating patterns or emotions, or exercising with company, it can prove helpful to have a support team.
- Try some new recipes. Healthy eating will be easier when you have different meals you can look forward to trying.
- Plan ahead. It’s easier to stay on track and maintain healthy living when it’s fully ingrained into your routine. Plan and schedule meals for the week, and prep healthy lunches to bring with you to work/school. Also, set aside certain days and times for exercise on your calendar—and don’t back out!
- Take baby steps. After breaking your routine, you may be scrambling to get back on the rails by hurling yourself into any and all changes at once. Simultaneously reinstating all of those changes can be overwhelming, setting you up for repeat failure. Try taking one step at a time and gradually reintroducing them one-by-one. This will help you avoid feeling scattered and defeated, setting you up for success instead.
- Think about how you got off track in the first place and avoid it like the plague. Figure out what may have caused you to detour from your otherwise healthy routine. Were you stressed? Depressed? When you figure out what triggered your fall off the healthy wagon, substitute with something other than food. You could go for a run (highly recommended), write a novel, think of a way to solve world hunger—anything to avoid reaching for that bag of chips.
- Reward yourself. Positive reinforcement goes a long way when trying to achieve any goal. Why should healthy eating be different? Assign mini (and attainable!) milestones, and when they are attained, acknowledge that triumph somehow.
By following these tips and tricks, you can boost your binge recovery and embrace a healthier relationship with food. Never beat yourself up for falling off the wagon; simply acknowledge that it happened and take steps to get yourself back on track.
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Rory is a student of writing and a welcome contributor to DIY Active.
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