We’ve all been there before: you’ve just eaten a little (or a LOT!) more than you intended to eat in one sitting. Your stomach is expanding, you feel nauseous and, if you are like me, you cannot stop burping. You feel guilty for completely blowing your diet and feel like all of the hard work that you have put into your workout regimen has suddenly come to naught.
Like I said, we have all been there before. The most important thing to realize after you binge is that the world is not ending. Although it may be a temporary setback, you are not unraveling all of the work that you’ve put into getting in shape over the past several months. No matter how sick you feel tonight, you will probably wake up tomorrow and feel fine and ready to get yourself back on track with your clean eating.
There are, however, a few things that you can do in the meantime to help your body recover from the sudden influx of food:
1. Drink plenty of water. Water is nature’s cleansing agent; the more water that you have in your system, the faster that your body will be able to flush out all of the toxins and make way for the fresh produce and lean protein that you will begin to feed it tomorrow. Since most junk foods that we tend to binge on are high in sodium, a binge episode is likely to result in dehydration. Dehydration slows body processes such as digestion and metabolism and will leave you feeling gross for longer.
2. Brush your teeth and change into loose-fitting clothing. Brush and floss away any lingering evidence of your binge and change out of any form-fitting clothing that you were wearing while you were eating. Tasting the chocolate in your mouth and feeling your waistband stretching will only wrack you with guilt and leave you feeling depressed and disillusioned. While it is important to reflect upon your areas of opportunity, it is important not to dwell upon them.
3. Evaluate your circumstances and remind yourself of your goals. Very rarely do we binge accidentally. We habitually turn to food as a way to feel a modicum of control when we feel like our life is crumbling around us. Whether we are not performing well at our job, engaged in a disagreement with a friend or colleague or having financial struggles, eating is a destructive way to cope with problems. Remind yourself why you are on the journey to wellness and think about ways to prevent these episodes from recurring in the future.
4. Get back on track as soon as possible. If you binge at night, resolve to get back on track as soon as you wake up in the morning. Do not restrict your calories the following day; this will set you tumbling down a slippery slope of depravation and overindulgence. Continue with your regular exercise and nutrition regimen as if nothing had happened. If you are up to it, it may be worth it to do an exercise the next day that is slightly more intense or longer than your regular routine but be sure not to push yourself too hard. Deviate as little as possible from your habits and getting on track permanently will be a breeze.
5. Don’t get discouraged. Like I said, it happens to the best of us. I lost 50 pounds over the past three years and, as much as I hate to admit it, one evening of binging is not going to bring back those 50 pounds. Although you may feel discouraged, your body will slowly but surely work through the food that you have ingested and life will go on. Remind yourself of your fitness achievements and re-commit yourself to being the best that you can be.