We’ve all done it. Well … most of us. Sure, there may be a few die-hard individuals out there whose steadfast willpower has carried them through every bout of temptation. But, for most of us, it’s happened:
Our firm resolve to eat just a few bites off the appetizer table was slowly suffocated under a steady flow of spinach and artichoke dip. “Just one Oreo” turned into “Just one sleeve of Oreos.” Or, the plan for one or two sensible cocktails was drown in tequila and garnished with, not a lime, but a late-night trip to Waffle House.
It happened so fast … or so slowly you didn’t even realize it happened until you started the calorie tally.
Regardless of how or why it occurred, you can bounce back from a binge. So, wipe the crumbs from your shirt and the Cheeto dust from your fingers and we’ll conquer this post-feast beast together.Here’s how:
1. Don’t Beat Yourself Up: You may be suffering from the binge blues now, but don’t listen to your own negative self-talk. Giving-in to the self-doubt makes it far too easy to throw-in the towel on your fitness goals and return to gluttony. Instead, double-down on self-motivation. Review your fitness goals, celebrate your recent successes, and peruse some motivational quotes or videos online to refocus.
2.Take Care of Your Body Right Now: Ever wonder why you feel so awful after a holiday splurge or weeknight binge? When you load up on extra sugar and carbs, your body needs to shift into overdrive to house and later digest that plate (or two) of food. When you overeat:
- Your body focuses on digestion, releasing insulin and other hormones and slowing all other functions. This in combination with erratic blood sugar levels makes you feel sluggish or sleepy.
- Your full stomach pushes up your diaphragm, which crowds your lungs, making it more difficult to breathe.
- Greasy or unfamiliar foods can trigger nausea and diarrhea.
- As blood rushes to bolster your digestive system, less critical areas experience less blood flow, which may make you feel chilled.
3. Load up on protein & fiber: Though it might make sense to even out a surplus of calories with a deficit, skipping a meal or starving yourself will only compound the problem. Long periods of fasting puts your body into starvation mode, which can trigger stress hormones and bottom-out your metabolism.
Instead, make your next meal protein-rich and full of fiber. The protein will help balance out your blood sugar levels and the fiber will jumpstart your digestion while staving off cravings.
4. Hydrate: Many of your favorite diet splurges – think French fries, bacon, and alcohol – are high in sodium. The extra salt can bloat and dehydrate you. Shy away from sodium-rich foods like lunchmeats, pre-packaged, and fried foods for a few days. Instead, fill up on fresh vegetables, fruit, and water with lots of lemon, which will help re-hydrate you and ease the bloating.
Drinking water will help keep your belly full, which means you’re less likely to repeat your binge.
5. Ease off the sugar and starch for a while: Sugars and simple starches, which your body treats as sugar anyway, actually become addicting – especially when you overload on the sweet stuff. If you can’t out sugar altogether for 7-10 days, gradually reduce your sugar intake to keep your cravings in check. If you need a sweet treat, try a square of dark chocolate or fruity herbal tea. Quell your craving, but don’t go overboard.
Want to learn more about the harmful effects of a sugar-laden diet? Read our blog, “SUGAR: The Bitter Effects.”
6. Make a Plan: Many times, when you overeat, it can feel like you’re losing control. Own your fitness and jumpstart your motivation by planning your next meal and workout.
7. Make some Moves: After a big meal or days of unhealthy eating, you’ll likely feel sluggish. Rather than post-up on the couch while you digest, get moving! It may not be in your best interest to sprint around the block with cheese dip and a White Russian sloshing in your gut, but going for a brisk walk can reinvigorate you while delivering oxygen to your digestive tract. Try some yoga to help move some of that food through. Here are some yoga poses for digestion.
8. Wait to Weigh: Weighing yourself immediately after a binge can be a false representation of your actual weight gain. Not only will the actual weight of the food in your belly tip the scale, but excess sugar, salt, and starch can make you retain water, which will flush out over time. Rather than risking the post-binge blues that accompanies a skewed scale reading, weigh yourself after a couple days of normal eating and exercise.
9. Assess your strategy: If you find yourself mid-binge far too often, the behavior might be the symptom of a more systematic problem. Seemingly uncontrollable urges to mow-down may be your body’s response to a lack of fuel.
For a few days, monitor your calorie intake and compare your daily carb, protein, and fat intake with the number of calories you burn during your regular exercise routine. Your “lack of willpower” may just be your body’s way of telling you it needs more calories to sustain your activity level. Refuel with the good stuff!
If you’re sure you’re fueling your body adequately with healthy carbs, fats, and proteins, your desire to binge could be linked to your mood or stress level. Read more about why we crave what we do in our blog, “JUNK FOOD: Why We Crave It and How to Quit It.”
10. Seek Some Support: If you feel like you’re constantly out of control when it comes to your eating and drinking habits and you’ve tried making changes to your diet and exercise routine, don’t be afraid to seek support from a friend or professional.
On the days when you’re on top of your diet and killing it at the gym, it’s all the motivation you need to stay on track. But we all have those days when the sugar cookies beckon and we give-in. It’s okay! Whether you’ve splurged for a few minutes, a day, or even a couple weeks, now is the time to forgive yourself and refocus.