Overeating. It happens. The holidays, a celebration, an all you can eat sushi bar (my personal weakness). We get caught up. It just tastes so good right? Until we are stuffed past the point of comfort, the guilt kicks in and our bodies desperately need a nap. Can you relate? If you are human, I’m going to bet you can.
Here’s the thing. I don’t want to encourage overeating, but at the same time I don’t want to stress about it. Decadent meals are often linked to traditions, celebrations, and connected to loved ones. That, I never want to take away from any of my clients. Food is to be enjoyed. Celebrations are to be had and traditions are something special that should be carried on. For those reasons, eat the cake. Enjoy every morsel. That is the exact advice I give my Nutrition clients. Keeping in mind of course, this is not your last meal. Be reasonable. A single piece vs a half a cake.
When we overdo ourselves without these meaningful moments, that’s when it becomes problematic. Reaching for more that what you know our body needs or can handle, especially on a regular basis, will leave you feeling unwell in more ways than one. A stomach ache as your digestive system cannot handle the excess. Your energy is drained as it is all being used to try to metabolize the mounds of food. Bowel movements may be non-existent or rapidly explosive. And potentially the worst of it is the guilt that follows. “Why did I eat so much? Dances through your head on repeat. “What’s the point of trying to eat healthy? I will never feel or look the way I want to.” These negative thoughts trigger negative actions and before you know it, you are in a week long Oreo binge with no end in sight.
Which brings me to my first point;
Ditch the guilt.
After a weekend of over indulgences, its easy to let our emotions go astray on us. In part, this is due to the chemical reactions in our brains that happen when we eat rich foods. The neurotransmitter serotonin is released. Serotonin acts as our feel-good hormone and it is most prevalent in the digestive system. When we are elbow deep in an ice-cream Sunday, we are on the top of the world. Happy as can be and all of life’s worries have been drowned out by the chocolate sauce. It feels great right? Unfortunately, this high comes with a crashing low. Our serotonin drops dramatically, and we sink into a depressive state. Feeling bad about our choices. Negative self-talk triggers a further stress response on the body. These thoughts are something to not ignore for the impact they can have on our bodies. Our thoughts alone can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol triggers sugar cravings and leads to mid-section weight gain. We have already had a similar response from the foods we ate, now it’s a double hit with the thoughts we think. Cut off the guilt train before it starts. So, you downed a bag of chips. Move on. Don’t condone it if its an action that does not support your goal and make you feel unwell. But don’t dwell on it either. Simply decide to make your next meal one that will feed you well. Don’t start the next day or next week. Start with your very next meal. Nutrient rich, healthy whole foods. That action alone will immediately prevent any guilty, stress inducing feelings from creeping into your head. For a deeper understanding of how stress affects the body, CLICK HERE.
Drink Water by the Bucket-load.
Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You have a weekend full of celebrations, foods that are not your norm, and maybe a few cocktails. Monday morning rolls around and you are up 5 pounds in 2 days. How can that be? 5 whole pounds. You worked so hard to get them off and BAM!, there they are again. Let’s put this into perspective. Its highly unlikely that you have gained 5 pounds. It takes 3500 extra calories to gain 1 pound. That means you would have to eat 17 500 calories over what your body needs in the matter of 2 days. That is the equivalent of eating 68 Big Mac’s. If you did that, we should be having a very different conversation. Likely, it is water retention that is bumping up the scales. Extra sodium and extra sugar cause your body to hang onto water. Ever notice how thirsty you become after either a sweet or salty meal? You need more water to process these foods than say a salad which is water rich. It may seem counter intuitive to drink more water if your body is hanging onto water, but that’s exactly what it needs. Giving your body more water will help your metabolic processes and flush out the excess. Drink it all day. Have it with lemon, in herbal teas, use a fun water bottle to motivate you to drink more, whatever you must do, get it in. Help your body flush out the weekend and take comfort in knowing that the reflection on the scale is not true weight but a sign that your body needs more H2O.
The few days after a overeating episode are the most important. Make a meal plan including nutrient rich whole foods for the week ahead. Carve out a pocket of time to meal prep for the week ahead. This is a game changer for healthy lifestyles. Choose recipes that appeal to your taste buds not aiming to do anything dramatic like a juice cleanse or nothing but salad for 5 days. It wont work. You will likely rebound into Ben & Jerry’s after day 2 and the cycle starts over again. Hearty balanced meals full of flavor are what your body craves on a regular basis. Give it that. Make sure you include something green, good fats and a protein source. The options are endless. Get creative to keep your taste buds satisfied. Experiment with a new wholefoods’ recipe, pack your lunch with a colorful meal and make your coworkers drool with envy. Leaving it to chance simply does not work. If you want to get yourself back on track and feeling like your amazing self again, plan it. There is that age old saying, Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail. Its true. What you want for yourself you must put effort into. Planning out a week of deliciousness especially after a weekend of culinary chaos is the key to getting back on track and ultimately reaching your goals.
Exercise. Go for a walk. Stretch. Play with the kids. Get outdoors. Get your body moving. This is not about caloric expenditure it is more about creating a better opportunity for your digestive system to do its job. Now is when it needs to step up its game. Heavier, richer foods, likely at higher quantities than normal put a grater demand on your digestive processes. Some movement will aide in increased blood flow to support your digestion. If you can get to a gym and put in a solid sweat session, great. But if you can’t, just get moving. Intensity is less important than consistency. Move your body in whatever ways feel good to you as often as you can. Especially at times when you eat more than normal.
Overeating occasionally is not the end of the world. Giving ourselves the freedom to loosen the reigns on a strict eating plan and enjoy a treat or two on occasion I believe, is part of living a balanced life. What’s most important is ideally it is only occasionally and most of the time you are feeding yourself nutrient rich foods for optimal health. When we do indulge, enjoy it, but get right back on track the next time you put your fork to your mouth.
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