You’ve eaten yourself into a food coma and that “ugh, what have I done?” sensation is setting in. Feeling sluggish and bloated, you’re determined to detox now. You don’t need a “cleansing” juice fast or a miracle tea to get back on track after a binge, though. There’s a better way!
First off, acknowledge that you overindulged and then leave it alone. Physical discomfort (indigestion, hangover) following a binge may contribute to guilt feelings, but please try not to dwell on the fact that you overdid things. Don’t beat yourself up or, worse, use an episode of overindulging as an excuse to bail on your healthy-eating habits entirely. Get right back on the wagon! I assure you, a day or two of riding the express train to Munchie Town will not ruin your physique or cancel out the progress you’ve made. However, dwelling on negative feelings in the aftermath may make it harder for you to get back on track. The past is the past; move forward.
Second, take care of yourself. Get off the couch, take a shower, and put on an outfit that feels comfortable but not sloppy. Take a walk and get some fresh air. If you’ve been on a holiday-foods bender, clear the cupboards and fridge of too-tempting leftovers. Freeze foods that can be frozen or give things away. Throw out what you can’t give away. You don’t need to consume all the leftovers; you are not a garbage can.
Third, psychologically, put yourself back in the mindset of success. Take it one day—one meal—at a time. Remember, you are in control of what you put in your mouth. Take responsibility for your decisions. Having a moment–or a day or two–of weakness is not a reason to scrub your entire healthy eating plan! Keep it in perspective and keep moving forward!
What to Do Post-Binge
- Eat breakfast. If you’re not hungry, wait until you are. Don’t skip meals to “make up” for eating too much the previous day.
- Drink up. Try to consume at least 80 ounces of water throughout the day, not including coffee or tea.
- Get some cardio in. Walking, swimming, cycling, boxing…whichever form of cardio you enjoy, get at least 30 minutes done.
- Fuel your body. Get right back on the clean-eating wagon with foods that nourish your body. Be sure to eat plenty of fiber. Load up on veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains, and dial down your fats a bit. Support your digestion with probiotics from quality yogurt and fermented foods like kimchee, kombucha, and kefir. Steer clear of heavily processed, deep-fried, and overly salted or sweetened foods.
- Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
A Meal Plan for the “Day After”
Meal 1: Eat a digestion-friendly breakfast including lots of fiber. Try a serving of oatmeal with cinnamon and berries stirred in or a slice of high-fiber toast with a tablespoon of almond butter.
Meal 2: 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese with a diced tomato or 6 oz of nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of fresh pineapple mixed in will give you a satisfying serving of protein in the form of long-lasting casein.
Meal 3: Go for a big, beautiful salad. Start with your favorite salad greens and add veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, grape tomatoes, carrots, radishes, red onion…go wild. Add a serving (4 to 6 oz, raw weight) of lean protein–grilled chicken breast or salmon, or water-packed canned tuna. For dressing, stir together 2 tablespoons of red or green salsa with 2 tablespoons of nonfat plain Greek yogurt, or whisk together a tablespoon of olive oil with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or rice vinegar and a little Dijon mustard.
Meal 4: Have a piece of fruit or a serving of vegetable soup and a protein shake.
Meal 5: Enjoy 4 to 6 ounces (raw weight) of lean protein (e.g., skinless chicken, broiled fish, or pork tenderloin) and pile of steamed or roasted veggies. If you’re very hungry at this point, add a serving of rice or sweet potato.
Enjoy herbal or green tea and sparkling water with your meals.
How do you handle getting back on track after a binge? Can you shake it off or does it take a lot of effort to get back to your healthy eating routine?