Dietitian Melissa Meier shares her top three simple tips for getting over an episode of over eating.
We’ve all been there: you’ve eaten so much that you had to undo the button at the top of your jeans, and now you’re feeling pretty awful about yourself. It’s a rather uncomfortable feeling, so where to next?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet (sorry!). The best advice I can give is to act proactively so you don’t find yourself in this predicament too frequently (read: pace yourself, practice portion control and listen to your body’s hunger and satiety cues).
In reality, however, that’s not always the case. There’s birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions to contend with that just wouldn’t be the same without a couple of treats. So, when you’ve overdone it, here’s my top tips to ease the pain.
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3 tips to feeling better after overeating, according to a dietitian
1. Cut yourself some slack
This step is *very* important. Give yourself a break, avoid vowing to go a strict diet the next morning and simply move on with your day. Accept the fact that the occasional indulgence is just a part of life and it’s not going to have any significant impact on your health in the long haul. Trust me.
In saying that, it’s important to take note of how frequently these episodes of overeating occur. If it’s once in a blue moon, it’s really no big deal. But if it’s happening regularly and/or done in secrecy, that’s a sign you might need the guidance of a qualified professional to help mend your relationship with food.
2. Do some gentle movement
Although you probably feel like dozing off on the couch, it’s a wise idea to do some gentle movement.
Obviously, I’m not talking about a 10 kilometre run… but a gentle stretch, stroll or bike ride can give your digestive system the helping hand it needs to get things moving, if you know what I mean!
3. Adopt mindfulness
Although it’ll take a decent chunk of time, when you are ready to eat again (read: when you can feel hunger pangs), there is absolutely no need to restrict yourself to ‘make up’ for what you ate. What you should do is focus on nutritious foods and enjoy them mindfully.
‘But what is mindfulness?’ you might be asking yourself right now. Essentially, it’s the practice of listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues to dictate when and how much you eat.
If you can feel your stomach grumbling, for example, you truly are hungry and need to have something to eat. If you don’t have any real hunger cues, however, you could be turning to food as a crutch to deal with emotions like boredom, sadness or stress – and that’s your signal to occupy your mind with something other than food.
If you genuinely are hungry and decide it’s time to eat, eating mindfully involves listening to all of your senses (taste, touch, smell, sight and sound), rather than just shovelling food into your mouth without a second thought. Essentially, this will slow you down and allow you to really enjoy every mouthful, which will ultimately reduce the likelihood of overeating moving forward.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.