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12 Tips to Overcome a Day of Overeating and Get Back On Track

February 24, 2016

It's the morning after a day when you compulsively overate. You probably wish you had a "Rewind" button to click, so you could go back and erase whatever you ate yesterday. Unfortunately, you can't undo yesterday, but you can put it behind you and get right back on track.  That's what we're going to talk about now.

The day after you compulsively overeat is the most important day!

Most people will indulge from time to time. The road to a healthy lifestyle doesn't mean perfection in our food consumption. Many WLS'ers tend to be all or nothing thinkers.  We're either on track or overeating and being off track. For lots of us, we fear that if we aren't "perfect" in what we eat, we'll fail and regain much of our weight loss.  Remember, we didn't become morbidly obese with a few off-track days.  Optimally, when you overeat at a meal or even during a portion of the day, you'd get right back on track. For many of us, once we compulsively overeat, it usually lasts all day.

If you have a flat tire on your car, you don't junk your car.  You fix the flat tire and move ahead driving your car, right?  Same with our healthy lifestyle.  You had an over-indulgent day yesterday, so fix it by moving forward, starting today!  Before you read any further, forgive yourself for yesterday!

It was just one day. The reason the day after compulsively overeating is the most important is because you want to stop it at one day, and not continue until "next Monday" or some other arbitrary starting point. Today, you're back on track!

12 Tips to Overcome a Day of Overeating and Get Back On Track

1.  More Hungry. Chances are that you will be hungrier the day after overeating. Guilt and remorse tend to be very high the day after, which will cause head hunger and the desire to emotionally eat. If you have issues with sugar, once you eat a lot of it, your body may crave it for a few days. Be aware that you may feel hungrier than usual. It is temporary, and just because of the tendency to want to eat more.....don't.  Eat on track like you normally do. A suggestion to help is to log your food into a food tracker. That will help you to stay on track and stick to your plan.

2.  Headache.  If you ate a large amount of sugary, salty and food items, you can experience headaches for a few days after your indulgent day. The frequency of headaches for a few days are common and will dissipate as you get back on track with your normal healthy food choices. Focus on eating lean protein, vegetables, and lower carb, glycemic food, along with drinking water throughout your day will help.  You possibly may feel lousy, and even feel as though you might have the flu. By taking care of yourself and getting right back on track today, you'll feel back to your normal self within a few days.

3.  Eat Healthy, Don't Punish Yourself.  You may be tempted to balance out your day of excess eating by not eating or restricting what you eat the next day.  Don't!  Undereating or restricting only sets you up for another day of binging or overeating.  Put the indulgent day behind you, because it is done. What matters is today and future days. You can't unring a bell, and you can't undo what you ate yesterday. What you can do is get back to your normal eating and exercise routines.

4.  Bloating.  Expect to be bloated. When we eat foods that are mostly sugar, fat and salty, we can experience bloating. Bloating isn't gained weight. Your body will adjust when you eat, drink water and exercise as you normally do. If you get into a mode of thinking that you've gained weight due to being bloated, remind yourself that this too will pass.

5.  Stay Off the Scale.  Don't weigh yourself. You will probably see an increase, which is merely your body's temporary reaction. Don't beat yourself up by getting on the scale. Give yourself a minimum of one week before you get back on the scale. You will do yourself a big favor by waiting, so your body has time to adjust and any water weight from being bloated will be eliminated.

6.  Drink Water. One of the most important things to do after a day of over-indulging is to drink water. Hot water or ice cold water - whatever you prefer, try to drink at least 64 ounces of water. By drinking sufficient amounts of water, you will clean up the toxins in your body, help rid water weight from being bloated, and help to normalize your metabolism. Your body will feel much better, and recover quicker if you drink water. You can also mix up your water with herbal tea as well.

7.  Eat Breakfast.  Make sure to eat breakfast, especially the day after your day of compulsively overeating. It will rev up your metabolism and make you feel less sluggish. Have a breakfast of high protein and fiber (omelet with veggies is a great breakfast) or Greek yogurt with a serving of a food choice high in fiber. You might consider skipping breakfast, but that will not help you to cover from yesterday. Eat breakfast, even a small one, to start yourself and your body to feel better.

8.  Eat Lunch and Dinner.  As with breakfast, make sure to eat lunch and dinner.  Skipping meals will only set you up to overeat again.  Eat "clean" and make sure your lunch and dinner consist of mainly lean protein and vegetables, followed up by a small serving of fruit or a complex carbohydrate. Make sure to avoid any food choices that are high in sugar, fat, and sodium.

9.  Exercise. This can be a slippery slope as many of us want to balance out yesterday with restricting food and over-exercising. The best way to balance is to get right back to your normal routines, including exercise and moving your body at every opportunity. If you work out 30 minutes a day, then today, exercise 30 minutes.  In other words, there's no need to spend large amounts of time exercising. Take a walk to a place that you especially enjoy so you'll feel nurtured again.

10.  Support. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member if you need to share about the over-indulgent day, and how you're feeling (emotionally and/or physically) today. Make sure that you reach out to a person that you know will understand and support you, not scold and help to beat you up.  You can also share on any of the message boards for even more support.

11.  Understand to Assign Meaning.  Use yesterday as a learning experience. What was going on with you that you needed to numb yourself by using food or self-medicate?  Think back, what situation was going on before you compulsively overate?  What emotions were you experiencing before you started eating? It is important to focus on the situation and emotions so you can use this experience to better understand yourself and know what to do instead of eating the next time.

12.  Guilt, Remorse or Shame. Forgive yourself and put it behind you. None of us are perfect in our eating routine, as it is common to have "one of those days" every once in a while. The key is not to make "those days" become a habit or stretch into multiple days. Tell yourself whatever mottos that support you, write them on sticky notes and put where you can see them.....You've Got This or You Can Do It or You Are Getting Back On Track!  You'll feel much better about yourself and stronger if you put it behind you and move forward on the path of your healthy lifestyle.

You may have thought that the most important day was when you over-indulged. Actually, the most important day is the day after. What you do the following day can get you right back to your healthy lifestyle and staying on track. After the day after, you'll be more apt to build on that day with more days to create the momentum you need to stay on track.

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cathy wilson


Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

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