Have you ever had a time when you've eaten too much?
You feel like your stomach is going to burst and all you want to do is take a nap?
Maybe you were celebrating a birthday and ate too much cake, had too much turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie for Thanksgiving, or just came home after a long day and sat down with a bag of chips.
How did you feel afterwards? Guilty? Regretful? Annoyed? Sick?
We've all been there at least once in our lifetime. It's normal to have these moments every now and then, especially around the holidays and amongst family and friends.
Why do we tend to eat so much around the holidays, anyway?
- Social pressure: The holidays are a time to relax, stop caring about health and eat what you want. But people still feel a little guilty about this, so they’ll pressure you to join in to make them feel better about their own indulgences. Research also shows how people eating with a group tend to match their intake to the group “average,” so even if nobody’s pressuring you about it, there’s a constant psychological cue to overeat at every meal.
- Stress: Holiday commitments mean stress, stress means comfort eating and nobody comfort-eats celery sticks. Cortisol (the stress hormone) also promotes weight gain, especially the dreaded “belly fat.”
- Broken routines: Traveling means you spend a lot of time sitting, you get thrown off your regular exercise routine and you aren’t always in control of your food.
- Emotional associations. Maybe it’s no struggle for you to pass up any random candy on the street, but if Grandma made it just for you, it gets a lot harder, especially if you have fond memories of eating it in years past.
If you felt social pressure, stress, or an emotional tie to eating this Thanksgiving and indulged a little too much, read on to find out how you can get back on track to feeling better while gaining some insight on how to keep it from happening in the future.
It takes 3,500 additional calories added to your diet each week (or 500 extra calories each day) in order to gain a pound of body fat.
Typically, when we tend to fall off the bandwagon and indulge a little too much, it won't make much of a difference in our weight as long as we don't make it a habit.
When you overeat during the holidays, it's typically just one or two meals out of your whole week and unless you are eating entire pecan pies or an entire batch of cookies, you should be okay.
No need to worry too much. Just be sure to get back on track to your regular eating habits as soon as possible.
FUTURE SOLUTION: If you are the one hosting a celebration and have leftovers after a meal, be sure to give your guests little doggie bags to take home with them. Little individual meals will help keep everyone from overeating and it will definitely keep you from feeling bad about having to finish up all of the extra food.
DON'T SKIP MEALS
After a session of intense overeating, we tend to try and compensate by not eating the next day or we skip meals. This is not a good idea. It can leave you hungry, moody and lethargic all day long.
Instead, just cut back a little bit with several small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar steady and to keep you from any more overeating. Make sure these meals are packed full of fruits and veggies - the fiber will keep you full and it's great for your digestive system to clean things out.
TIP: Wait until you are hungry before eating breakfast. You may want to jump right into your normal routine and eat breakfast at 7am, but if you had a huge late dinner the night before, you may not be hungry for anything until later on in the morning. Listen to your body and take it slow.
FUTURE SOLUTION: When out celebrating and having a good time, make sure to keep track of what you're eating to keep your calories under control. There are plenty of apps out there that make it incredibly easy to keep track of your intake as it's happening. You could use MyFitnessPal or Lose It! to make it easy. Seeing an actual number on your phone will help to keep you from choosing the dessert tray (again) or that extra glass of wine.
SKIP THE SCALE
After overeating a huge meal, you may weigh more on the scale.That’s not because you gained body fat, but because of water retention from extra salt that was in the food you ate.
So just don't do it. Not until you've given your body a chance to recoup from all of the excess foods.
Weigh yourself on Fridays (first thing in the morning after using the restroom), when you’re likely to weigh your lowest, since people tend to overindulge more often on the weekends than on weekdays.
Exercise is a good idea. But don't do a mega-workout to try to burn off all the calories you just ate.
If you workout too hard, you could pull a muscle or hurt a joint then you won't be able to exercise until you are healed.
Try and stick to your regular exercise routine, whether you are traveling or staying at home. You may need to get creative, but it could be fun to even get some of your other family members in on your workout.
FUTURE SOLUTION: When you know you will be overeating at an event, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, a birthday party, or any other celebration, be sure to exercise just prior to the meal. This will release endorphins that will keep you from overeating. Who wants to undo what they just worked hard on? Sure, you could also argue that you just burned off all of those calories so you are free to go crazy, but I am trying to avoid that side of the argument. :)
DRINK MORE WATER
Chances are, all of that overeating wasn't on celery and watermelon. Party foods and holiday meals are full of extra sodium, creamy soups, processed meats and lots of bread.
These foods can cause some serious bloating afterwards, which leaves you uncomfortable and perhaps popping out of your jeans.
FUTURE SOLUTION: During a party or celebration, be sure to always keep a cup of water on hand to drink inbetween courses or appetizers. And always drink a cup or two of water prior to a big meal to prevent from overeating too much. If your stomach is already full of water, then there won't be much more room for anything else.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. There's no reason you shouldn't be able to enjoy a festive meal freely, so don't allow negative self-talk to take over. The best thing you can do is move forward with a positive attitude and happy memories of your fun.
What are some ways you bounce back from an overeating experience? Let me know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & Happiness,
P.S. For the ultimate solution to overeating in the future, drinking 2 cups of Oolong tea each day will help curb cravings, keep you feeling full, boost your energy and mood, rev up your metabolism, regulate blood sugar, burn 2.5 times more calories than green tea, and much more! Make sure to always have some in stock and on hand - especially during the holidays!