How to Bounce Back After a Binge Day (8 simple tips)
Who among us hasn’t overindulged at a summer BBQ, a holiday or birthday party, or even while sitting at home casually consuming an entire sleeve of cookies or a box of crackers while catching up on a favorite TV show? And with many of us living a life in athleisure, it may be even easier to have a few too many snacks throughout the day. It’s not like your joggers or leggings are going to feel that much tighter. Unfortunately, after a food binge or free-for-all, you may not only be left with a temporary “food baby,” but you may feel drained and depressed. What to do after a binge? Especially once you wake up from your food coma feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and perhaps even seeing the scale creep up overnight…
Fortunately, you don’t have to trade your favorite fit-like-a-glove jeans in for sweats after you overindulge. You can quickly bounce back from a binge and even squeeze back into your favorite pants, shorts, or skirt the very next day. Here’s how:
What to Do After A Binge?
Step 1: Forgive Yourself
Trust me, you are not alone. Every single person has overindulged at one time or another, and that is no crime. We’re all human. It may seem natural to feel ashamed, drained, or mad at yourself. But please stop. Give yourself some grace and stop beating yourself up.
In fact, expecting yourself to be perfect and then abusing yourself for not being so is more likely to lead to another binge… and another… and another. And it could lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
In truth, one meal or even one day isn’t going to do much damage. But a vicious cycle of bingeing, beating yourself up, and bingeing again could.
Admit that you didn’t eat on plan, accept it, forgive yourself, and move on.
Step 2: Drink Up
You may be feeling bloated and overfull (especially if you indulged in sugar or salt), but flushing out the bad and rehydrating will make you feel better, aid digestion, and help reduce the bloat. Staying properly hydrated can also help support a strong metabolism and help you feel fuller after meals, so you’ll be less likely to go for any leftovers.
Start by drinking a large glass of water before going to bed, and then continue drinking fluids as soon as you get up the next morning. If your tummy is feeling a little queasy from the food overload, you may want to sip on some caffeine-free ginger tea in the evening and drink warm water with a little apple cider vinegar in the morning to help support the digestion of carbohydrates. 3
Step 3: Move Your Body
The perfect way to move on after an overindulgence is to get moving! The last thing you may want to do is exercise, but it is one of the best things you can do to help get oxygen moving through the body (including the digestive tract) and increasing energy levels.
After your overindulgence, take 20 to 30 minutes to do some light movement—from a stroll through the neighborhood to a gentle cycle on the bike path to a less intense backyard workout or yoga session. The fresh air and oxygen will help you feel better and more energized and alive. Walking right after the meal may be particularly helpful as it’s been found to help the stomach empty faster, which may help relieve the discomfort caused by that “food baby.” 1 By moving right after eating—even for just 10 to 15 minutes at a very low intensity—you can help decrease the blood sugar surge and drop.
If you miss the window, don’t fret. Just make sure you exercise the next day. Go for a jog, hit the weights at the gym, or slide into a yoga class—do whatever feels good to heat up the body and the metabolism.
As a bonus, exercise can boost mood and reduce stress to potentially help you avoid the triggers that may have led to the binge to begin with. 2
Step 4: Sleep It Off
People who get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, and are thus well rested, are less likely to binge in the first place. This is because getting enough sleep helps with food restraint. One small study, for example, found that when folks missed 80 minutes of sleep, they ate an extra 500+ calories the next day. 4 So, it makes sense to get enough sleep after a binge to you help you get back on track.
If heartburn is keeping you up, prop yourself up on an extra pillow to help.
Step 5: Fuel Up
Why is it that after overindulging (sometimes to the point of feeling like you could never eat again) that you’re hugely hungry the next day? It’s because when you spike your glucose (blood sugar) levels, your insulin levels also go up. And this is followed by a glucose crash and then insulin crash—leading to intense hunger.
Instead of going right to intermittent fasting the next day (or starving yourself for penance), if you wake up hungry, try fueling your body with the nutrients it needs in the form of healthy proteins, fibers, and even fats to help even out your blood sugar levels. Avoid a carb-heavy meal, though, as this could lead to even more hunger and overindulgence. Instead, try a high-protein oatmeal pancake or a couple of eggs with avocado and some hydrating fruit to bounce back quickly after a binge.
Continue fueling your body with a healthy nutrient-packed, balanced protein and fiber-rich carb lunch and dinner to help you (and your digestive system) get back on track. Make sure you are getting plenty of healthy vegetables (like leafy greens) and fruits in throughout the day.
The next day, if you are still a bit under the weather, you may choose to fast or eat/drink only lighter meals (such as broth with vegetables and mushrooms) to help your digestive system recover.
Step 6: Avoid the Scale For a Day or Two
If you use a scale to monitor your weight daily, avoid it for a day or two after a binge as you likely still have excess food digesting in your gut. And you’re also likely retaining water (especially if you ate salty foods). Stepping on the scale may make you think you’ve gone backwards. Give your body an extra day or two to bounce back before weighing yourself to avoid feeling discouraged. You didn’t gain five pounds of fat in one day but you could be retaining that in water.
Step 7: Remove Temptation
If your pantry is filled with cookies, crackers, and chips, and your freezer contains ice cream and desserts, it can be really difficult to avoid bingeing in the first place. Clean out your pantry, fridge, and freezer of foods that trigger you to overeat and instead fill them with delicious foods that provide long-lasting energy to make staying on track easy.
Step 8: Focus on the Future
One slip-up won’t lead to lasting damage. A healthy lifestyle is about consistency over the long haul. Refocus on your future, your goals, and how you want to feel starting with your next meal. Your thoughts initiate your behavior, so forgive yourself, understanding that you can start anew, not just every day but every moment of every day.
What to Do After a Binge: A Wrap-Up
One overindulgent meal, or even day, won’t make or break your healthy eating (or weight-loss) goals. And what you do in the day after can help you quickly get back on track before you snowball back into unhealthy eating habits.
With each day… with each meal… you can begin again by focusing on positive steps and changes. Declare your binge over and done and start fresh with your healthy eating and exercise routine to enjoy greater energy, improved digestion, decreased bloating, and feeling good again.