Nutrition Education

Three Tips for Self-Care the Day after Overeating

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It’s the morning after a really fun Christmas party with my favorite people and LOTS of delicious foods. I have been practicing and teaching Intuitive Eating principles for years, and even I have to remind myself how to care for my body after I eat beyond fullness now and then. This morning’s belly ache is a good reminder that there’s something to learn from every eating experience.

The advice I give here is based on my personal experience and practices that have worked for past clients. This advice applies to anyone who experiences an occasional binge now and then. If you find yourself in an endless cycle of eating so much food that you are uncomfortable for hours after, or you try to make yourself throw up afterwards, please work with a registered dietitian and mental health professional to ensure you are getting the best care.

Here are three ways you can care for yourself after experiencing a binge:

Practice Self-Compassion

Be compassionate with yourself. If you were out with family and friends, reflect on the fun time you had with them. Have gratitude for the people you love. If you were alone and eating out of emotion or boredom, speak to yourself in a way you would speak to your best friend. Be your own best advocate.

One of the worst things you can do for your body is shame it with thoughts and comments like, “Why don’t I have more self-control?” or “Why does my body crave so much ‘bad’ food?” or “I’m not going to any more parties because I can’t trust myself around food.” Shaming thoughts are harmful for two reasons:

1) Body shaming creates an endless cycle of negativity towards your body and food. It leads to restrictive eating in an effort to manipulate or control or shrink the size of your body and it damages your mental health.

2) Body shaming increases stress. Stress raises your cortisol. Cortisol shuts down your digestive functions, and your tummy ache worsens.

Eat nourishing meals and snacks the next day

Remind your body that you will care for it by eating a meal that will make you feel good. You know what that feels like. I encourage you to include 2-3 of the 5 food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat/protein).

The human body is wired for survival, so restricting your food after overeating can be very confusing to your metabolism. Be patient with your body as it tries to get back to homeostasis with regular meals and snacks.

With that being said, there’s a lot of food trying to make it’s way through your digestive track the day after a binge. Some gentle nutrition practices that can help is to drink plenty of water and include foods with fiber like whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. This will help move the food through your gut and keep the digestive process working.

Move your body in a joyful way

Now that might sound a little strange, but hear me out. You might often hear comments like, “I’ve got to work harder at the gym today to work off all those {fill in the blank] I ate last night.” Or maybe, “I need to earn my food/drinks tonight, so I have to run longer today.” First of all, you don’t need to earn your food or punish your body for eating too much food. You do however need to move your body in ways that are enjoyable and natural for you. Exercise improves your mental state. Exercise increases blood flow throughout your whole body, including your gut, which will continue the digestive process. This is a great treatment for post-binge cramping, bloating, and other tummy troubles.

Over-exercising leads to an endless cycle of over-eating followed by restriction which can spin you down a road you don’t want to travel.

Now, tell me. What has helped you care for yourself after a binge? What tips would you add to this list? I would love to hear your thought in the comments below.

Until next time,

Since 2009, Megan has used her Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics from Brigham Young University to help people develop healthy food relationships. She combines evidence-based science, a dash of alternative medicine, and a large dose of practical food preparation to teach individuals how to feed themselves and their families nourishing meals with common ingredients. As a busy Mom of 5, she believes food should be simple, intentional, and HEARTY!

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