Whether it’s a GNO, holiday, or an emotional eating binge gone wild, we’ve all been there: you overate and now you’re going to punish your body for it, right? WRONG!
First and foremost, it is OK to indulge. You have this one life to live and it should be enjoyed – treats, cocktails and snacks included! But we’ve all had those days (aka the weekend), when we have the treats, cocktails and snacks all at the same time. Here’s how to best support your body over the next 24 hours to prevent damage control and begin the next day back on track.
1. Relax. Seriously!! It’s is NOT a big deal. Let’s put it into perspective: You need to eat 3,500 calories to gain one pound of body fat. It’s highly unlikely (no matter what you think) that you ate this much. BUT even if you think you did, don’t sweat it! It won’t make a long-term difference on the scale (Pro tip: do NOT weigh yourself for the next 48 hours until you body has returned back to it’s normal eating habits). No one is perfect in their eating habits and it’s normal to have these days, so let it go and give yourself permission for this to happen again – with the caveat that as soon as it’s over, you will go back to the eating plan you normally follow. Do not spiral into a multi-day offender or be self-deprecating.
2. Get plenty of sleep. We’re not saying ‘sleep it off’, as you shouldn’t throw off your sleep pattern and sleep hours more than normal, but you should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep that night. This is the one fool-proof way to turn a 2 – 12 hour binge into a 24-36 hour binge. If you don’t get enough sleep, you will no doubt feel worse the next day and look to self-soothe or quiet those intense cravings by reaching for fatty, starchy, sweet comfort foods. In one Mayo Clinic study, after missing out on just 80 minutes of sleep participants went on to eat an extra 550 calories throughout the day. Your first meal of the day should be a small meal, balanced with all macro-nutrients present: quality protein, whole carbs, and healthy fats. If the idea of a meal the next morning sounds nauseating, toss those three categories into a smoothie! Grab some smoothie inspo here.
3. Do NOT skimp on your calories today. It seems logical to “offset” yesterday’s caloric splurges, but you would be wrong. This will likely only make you MORE hungry, and feel more negative about your eating. A good strategy is to focus on portion control by eating smaller, multiple meals throughout the next day. Consider three, portion controlled meals, with two small snacks, eating a total of 5 times the next day. Make sure your snacks and meals are packed with protein, and fruits and vegetables with plenty of fiber. Fiber is not only satiating, helping you to feel full, but also will get things ‘moving along’ as the last thing you want to skip the next day is your trip to the bathroom. The average American eats 15 grams of fiber/day. You should be eating nearly double that, aiming for a minimum of 25 grams as a female (or 14 grams per 1,0000 calories). We’ve included a sample meal plan below!
Get moving. Overeating can have a cascading effect. We feel ashamed and defeated, so not only do we likely continue the eating pattern now that we’ve ‘fallen off the wagon’, it’s like a domino effect that leads to curbing exercise too. Make sure to minimally get in a long walk today – even better if you can take a quick lap or two around the neighborhood post-binge the same day. It will stimulate digestion and help you feel better ASAP! Even better? Consider upping the ante – within reason. We’re not saying to try to “burn” the same amount of calories you overate the next day, as this is unhealthy and unrealistic. However you likely have those extra energy stores from the added calories, so consider using heavier weights in your workout, or a quick 15 – 30 minute HIIT series to make the most of your workout.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you choose to hit it hard, exercise at all, or if you imbibed in an adult beverage or two, you’ll want to increase your water intake significantly today. Even consider a pinch of salt for electrolyte balance. Aim for your body weight in oz of water. Fight the urge to drink carbonated beverages or lots of coffee today. Those bubbles typically amplify bloating and ab distention (read: will definitely NOT make you feel better about your suspicion of ‘weight gain’ from yesterday – remember that’s highly unlikely after such a short period of time in the grand scheme of things!). Thinking of skipping breakfast and just doubling up on coffee – hoping it will stimulate your metabolism and “grease” your gut? Think again – coffee has actually been shown to trigger binge eating. Coffee can be an appetite suppressant for some, but you end up potentially eating more at night to compensate for the skipped meals earlier in the day. Drinking coffee with a meal can cut down iron absorption by up to 80 per cent while also reducing the uptake of minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium. It’s not a good substitute for a meal, and especially not a great idea today to overdo it. Try to keep it to one cup, ideally at least an hour after you’ve had your first meal if possible. Remember, we want to get back to our normal eating plan as soon as possible, so don’t forget to account for beverages here too! You can absolutely add a little fresh fruit (lemons, limes or cucumbers are even better) as well as herbs like mint and ginger to your water throughout the day to encourage additional consumption. Herb-infused ice cubes are an easy way to add it in!
Sample meal plan:
Breakfasts: Two whole eggs (or just the whites) topped with a fourth of an avocado and a cup of fruit. Smoothies!!
Snacks: plain Greek Yogurt with berries + liquid stevia, organic turkey slices with avocado, a Quest Bar, or two eggs with a piece of fruit.
Dinners: A grilled salmon fillet with one cup quinoa and three cups leafy greens dressed in an olive oil and lemon dressing. A baked chicken breast with half a sweet potato topped with one tablespoon of butter and two cups steamed broccoli. Four cups of leafy greens and other veggies topped with grilled steak, 1/4th of an avocado, 1/4th cup dried cranberries, and balsamic vinegar
P.S. Steer clear of any foods that may disrupt your tummy further. Big culprits include gluten, dairy products, coffee, refined sugar, carbonated beverages, and acidic foods like fruit juice, pasta, alcohol, fatty meats, and chocolate. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables, green teas, almonds, lentils, and avocados are all more alkaline and won’t upset those prone to acid reflux.