Memorial Day weekend – barbecues, cook-outs, picnics, and food galore. If, despite my best efforts to provide some tips and tricks to avoid overdoing it on just such an occasion, you found yourself indulging a bit more than you should have, have no fear, all is not lost! Many times when we “fall off the wagon”, our response is either to just keep going with it, essentially throwing up our hands and saying, “I’ve already screwed up, why not just keep going?”, or to go to the opposite extreme, severely limiting everything and “punishing” ourselves to make up for the splurge. Neither is helpful, productive, or a long-term solution.
So, what do you do to recover from an overindulgence or splurge? First, get rid of the guilt. What’s done is done, beating yourself up about it only adds to your stress levels, further compromising your health. As I’ve said before, food is for feeding the body and the soul. So you did a bit more of the latter…that’s ok! Hopefully, you savored it and enjoyed every moment, and really made the splurge worth it. Second, know that you haven’t doomed your health, your progress, or your future goals. Could you have done it better? Probably. Should you try to next time? Certainly. But, each day, each meal, each snack is a new opportunity to turn things around and make better, smarter, healthier choices. And the more you practice making the good choice, the easier it will become.
Here are some tips to get you back on track without going to the extreme.
1) Drink water. Lots. Chances are, if you binged or splurged, hydration wasn’t high on your list (that fourth glass of sangria or third margarita definitely doesn’t count!). Not only will water help flush your system, but it’s likely you’re dehydrated to begin with and your body needs a little extra help.
2) Prioritize fruits and veggies. Build each meal around a fruit or vegetable (or both!). Again, when we indulge, we tend to do so at the expense of nutrient dense options like fruits and vegetables. Making these the focus of your meals will help replenish your nutrient stores, give you a good dose of fiber, fill you up without packing on the calories, and so much more.
3) Add some omega-3s. Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, fish. These potent anti-inflammatories will help reduce inflammation from the overindulgences, especially sweets, reduce aches and pains, and give you an overall boost.
4) Don’t overdo the caffeine. After a long weekend, often full of sweets, heavy foods, excess, and alcohol, reaching for a second, third, etc. cup of coffee to get going the next morning is typical. This, however, will only continue the not-feeling-so-hot trend. Limit yourself to one cup of coffee, or better yet, a cup of green tea with a splash of lemon. And, refer back to point one and HYDRATE! Caffeine increases water output, further dehydrating you and leading to more headaches, fatigue, and general dis-ease.
5) Get moving. Chances are, your long weekend consisted mostly of walking to the grill for seconds (or thirds) and back to your picnic table. Burn off some of those excess calories, get a natural boost of mood-uplifting endorphins, and shake off the gluttony of the weekend with a good workout. Take a long walk at lunch, go for a run, do some yoga to start the day – whatever makes you feel good, just do it.
Whether it was a holiday weekend, a special date night, or just a long week culminating in a junk food eating spree, you have the power to get back on track, right now. So, remember the indulgence fondly, and now focus on your overall goal of life-long health and make today the first day of a great rest of the week.
Aubrey MS RDN LDN