Was it a weekend at the beach, a night out on the town, or a BBQ blow-out that zapped your energy and filled you with regret? Rest assured, we’ve all been there before and sometimes we all could use some tips on recovering from an overindulgence! It’s been said before that the best measure of a “healthy habit” is how quickly you can get back to it – be it exercise, eating, sleep or stress management – they all play a role in losing or maintaining your weight and feeling your best.
Water is a sure-fire way to get you back on track post-binge. Whether it was too much caffeine or alcohol, a day of high-sodium restaurant meals, or a late-night fast-food feast, flush your system with eight to ten glasses of ice water throughout the day.
Ice water has the added benefit of burning some additional calories because it takes a certain amount of energy for your body to warm up the water. You can also add water to your diet by eating foods with high water content.
Most fruits and vegetables have a water content above 80%, and some are as high as 95% - try celery, cucumbers, zucchini and spinach, all of which top the vegetable list. For fruit, try watermelon, strawberries and grapefruit, all of which have about 90% water content. Fruits and vegetables also pack in fiber – a good-for-you nutrient that helps you feel full longer. This may help you eat fewer calories overall, which we don’t need to remind you, may be a good idea post-binge!
Also keep in mind that thirst is sometimes mistaken for hunger. Drinking a glass of water might just curb your appetite. If it doesn’t, at least you’ll know the real feeling of hunger and you can make a conscious, healthy choice after your glass of water.
Don’t deprive yourself by drastically cutting calories after a binge. Instead, think about getting back to your healthy eating plan as soon as possible. Start with a healthful breakfast that includes lean protein, whole-grain fiber-rich foods, and some healthy fats. Try:
Nothing makes you feel as good as a calorie-blasting, extra-exhilarating workout! There is a physiological reason why exercise improves your mood – it has to do with the release of the chemical endorphin, which has been called the body’s natural pain medication and is released in response to your brain’s perception of pain. One theory is that the body views exercise as a sort of injury and starts releasing endorphin as a response to perceived “pain.” Although this joyful feeling is often referred to as “runner’s high,” it is not reserved for runners alone – any type of regular exercise will work, often within just 20 to 30 minutes worth of activity.
According to WebMD.com, exercise can also ward off depression, boost self-esteem, improve sleep and reduce stress. Be sure to replenish fluids during and after your workout (water is fine unless you’re working out for more than 75 minutes at a time). Challenge yourself to Bikram (hot) yoga, an energizing spin class, or a long run.
Instead of “vegging out” in front of the TV, get outdoors and walk, read a book or strike a (yoga) pose. Research has shown that a natural environment can replenish the directed-attention part of your brain, allowing you to focus and think more clearly. And I think we’d all agree, getting back on track with healthy habits is much easier with a clear head!
There’s another reason why the sun is so important - sunshine signals the brain to slow the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. In general, we’re asleep or feeling slowed down during the dark hours of the evening and nighttime, and feeling energized during the light hours of the day. These regular patterns help us to sleep better, which has been linked to better weight loss, improved mood and more.
Don’t beat yourself up about the past. Move on and look forward. Remind yourself that one overindulgence is NOT a reason to give up your healthy eating plan completely! Think of it this way – one pound equals 3,500 calories – so an overindulgence of 1000 calories will only have an effect if you continue to do it day after day after day. (Which you won’t….right?) When you are too hard on yourself, you are likely to repeat the overindulgence. Instead, think of what may have derailed you in the first place and the actions you can take to handle the situation differently next time. But most importantly, be sure to congratulate yourself on getting back on track!
As summer wraps up and we look ahead to fall, the holidays, and, inevitably, some overindulgences, make sure your arsenal of recovery weapons is stocked and loaded. Practice healthy habits and feelings of gratitude toward yourself and your life. Who knows, you might even be able to lead by example and help your spouse, neighbor or colleague do the same!
Author: Kristen Ciuba
Kristen is a Nutritionist at Diet-to-Go, based in Lorton, VA. She tries to “practice what she preaches” by fitting in healthy foods and cooking, challenging exercise, and quality time with family and friends every day!