What To Do After You Overeat
Fact: It doesn’t have to be holiday season to overdo it when eating.
Sure, it’s easier to blame overeating on family festivities full of cheese plates, glazed meats, and decorative cookies. But sometimes even the slightest celebration or just a moment of weakness (think: finishing all of that pasta instead of saving half as you intended) can lead to one massive food hangover the next morning. Trust us, we’ve all been there.
Which is exactly why we called on expert nutritionists to help put together a plan to beat bloat, curb cravings, and get you back on track. Read now, print out, and bookmark for later because, after all, you’re (we’re) only human.
(Find out how to stop the craving cycle before it starts and burn fat around the clock with the naturally sweet, salty, and satisfying meals in Eat Clean, Lose Weight & Love Every Bite.)
Wake up and pour yourself at least one glass—eight ounces—of water. After overindulging, the idea of putting anything else in your stomach—and so early nonetheless!—seems nauseating and arguably impossible. But starting your day with H2O, particularly warm water with lemon, is a must no matter how full you feel. The liquid combo is hydrating, stimulates bowel movements, and helps pass yesterday’s gluttony through your system, all of which decrease bloating and alleviate that “weighed-down feeling,” explains Lisa DeFazio, RD.
In fact, you should shoot for 8 to 10 glasses throughout the day. Especially since dehydration can make you hungry and tired, aka the perfect storm for another round of overeating. As for your AM caffeine fix, DeFazio says it’s fine to have a cup of coffee or tea since both also kick your system into gear. Just go easy on the cream, sugar, and honey to avoid unnecessary fats, sugars, and, you guessed it, calories.
Equally as important as the physical—hydrating—upon waking up is the mental. While you replay yesterday’s feast in your mind, take a step back and try not to panic. Instead of thinking “now the whole week is ruined, so much for losing weight,” remember that although you stepped off your weight-loss path, you enjoyed yourself and now you’re just going to get back on track, says Leah Kaufman, RD. “Definitely do not punish yourself.”
While the exact time of the meal depends on your work schedule. Don’t skip it just because you overate yesterday. Mom was right, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not only does it kick-start your metabolism, but it also puts you on the right track mentally for a better eating day, which is key after yesterday’s overindulgences. And since you’re likely still stuffed at this time, DeFazio recommends something comforting like a smoothie with ingredients such as a banana, a scoop of peanut butter, and berries. If a smoothie isn’t up your alley, that’s okay. Just be sure to eat breakfast with similar nutrients:. Protein to keep you fuller longer, fiber to also keep you full and help with digestion, and water and/or electrolytes to hydrate you after all the sodium you consumed.
To keep your blood sugar stable and help curb cravings and binging when overly hungry (aka hangry), you should eat every three-to-four hours, according to DeFazio. For lunch, she calls for a big salad topped with lean protein like grilled chicken or salmon and all the vegetables your heart desires. Go crazy and add some rice or beans for a small serving of carbs to help avoid any sugar cravings later, which are common after overeating. One caveat, however: DeFazio says to avoid cheese or creamy dressing because they’re high in cals and tend to be bloating. At this point, remember to sip on some water—not soda (hello, unnecessary cals and bloating bubbles!)—as you eat.
When the munchies strike, don’t ignore your growling stomach. “You have to break the pattern by getting back into a normal routine and not going hungry,” Kaufman says. Since you probably had a lot sugar yesterday, you might want something sweet. Kaufman recommends, “using fruit to your advantage”.
While you should stick to only two portions of fruit a day, this is a good time to snack on a cup of berries or a half-cup of melon (each count as a single portion). They’re both sweet and hydrating. Other filling, low-cal options? Some veggies and hummus or a handful (10 to 15) almonds with some fruit, DeFazio says. And if you’re someone who craves an afternoon pick-me-up, opt for green tea instead of coffee. It’s more hydrating and still packed with caffeine.
If you feel up to breaking a sweat, both DeFazio and Kaufman recommend you hit the gym. No matter what, however, you should try to be active sometime during the day. Even if that means just walking around during lunchtime. Doing so will help you ease into a better exercise routine by the end of the week to ultimately reach your weight-loss goals. Believe it or not, even a little exercise helps with digestion which is beneficial after overeating.
For something that’s easy on your stomach, low-cal, hydrating, and fibrous, have a large veggie soup for dinner. Either make the soup from scratch or buy a lower-sodium option from the market. Then pair it with a small salad or some protein, such as piece of grilled chicken. “This will keep you satisfied without overdoing it on the calories,” DeFazio says. If you’re not in the mood for soup, a good plan B is a meal full of cooked veggies. Add a bit of olive oil for some healthy fat and a piece of grilled chicken or a tofu steak.
For both dinner options, include spices such as turmeric on your protein or veggies because it reduces bloating and gas. Chamomile, mint, and fennel work similarly, so the experts recommend sipping on any of those teas after dinner. Not only are warm fluids comforting to an overworked belly, but these in particular also aid in digestion—plus chamomile promotes sleep.
Because it’s been at least three hours since your last meal, you can now (finally!) get to bed. But, hey, this doesn’t mean scrolling Instagram for another hour or binging House Hunters under your nicely-tucked sheets. Rather, get into bed with the goal of nodding off to sleep. “Try to get about seven to eight hours of sleep for your body to reboot. Rest is essential to getting back on weight loss track, Kaufman explains.
Before you nod off, however, take a moment to think about how you felt on this first day post-overeating. Doing so will hopefully help you remember these sensations (groggy, swollen, uncomfortable, the list goes on) the next time you have a big event or simply feel the urge to binge, DeFazio explains. No matter what, though, don’t self-hate! In just a few days, if not sooner, you’ll be right back to meeting those goals…that is if you maintain good eating and exercise and don’t give into those chips and guac calling your name (don’t worry, we hear them too sometimes).