Have you ever felt guilty, overwhelmed or even disappointed because you went a little overboard with food? Raise your hand.
Now raise your hand if you’ve had this feeling happen more than a few times a month, or perhaps, more than a few times a week.
For some of us, this feeling comes more often than we’d hope for, even escalating during the emotional and turbulent trials of life. And why is that? Well you see, food just isn’t about nourishment (oh how easy it would be then!); often, food offers us meaningful conversations, memories to those we hold dear and a ritual of sorts. At certain points in my life, food has been either the best thing ever or the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen. Sounds extreme, but when you find yourself tortured by food, that’s exactly what it becomes.
To be honest and completely transparent with you, I only write this from the bottom of my heart with full awareness of my vulnerability. This post comes from experience of abusing food for years, without acknowledging or understanding the issue until about two years ago. Admittedly, I’ve been to the deep, dark side of food where everything was on my plate (okay, 5 plates) or when it was completely empty. If you can relate to this, then please know that you’re not the only one. There are MILLIONS of people out there who have a complicated relationship with food. Some hide it better than others and some don’t want to admit that food is their struggle for fear of judgement. Today I full-heartedly admit to you that seeking help for my complicated relationship with food was one of the best things I ever did for myself. I am forever changed and better because of it.
Here’s one of the most important things I learned: The time food becomes problematic or difficult is when we use it as a crutch for something we don’t want to face in our lives. When we abuse food is when there’s something else happening inside that we can’t seem to cope with (or don’t have the proper skill sets to cope with the internal issue). A lot of psychology talk there, but it most certainly has been true in my life.
As I continue Wellness Wednesdays, I want to get into topics that aren’t just surface level. I’ve shared a good deal with all of you, but feel I could even get a little more personal when it comes to body image, weight loss and the story of my relationship with food. For now, we’ll keep today’s post a little shorter and chat about what to do after you’ve binged or overeaten; in the future look for more inspiration and stories about my experiences with food and why I’ve had such a difficult time with it for most of my life.
Okay, now onto what to do if you’ve overeaten or binged so you can get back on track to feeling better:
1.) Always start your day with a little breakfast. I know this can be difficult because you may find that you’re not hungry after a late night binge or overeating episode, but it is important to nourish your body to prevent the cycle from happening again. I can’t even tell you how many times I would eat SO MUCH late at night and then wait until past lunch the next day to eat again. The problem was that I’d always end up binging again late at night on the worst foods. I had to force myself to get out of the starve-binge cycle by prepping my meals ahead of time and eating breakfast. A healthy breakfast can help prevent those curb blood sugar dips and keeps your metabolism revving. Even a light breakfast of two eggs or a cup of yogurt is better than nothing at all.
2.) Choose high-protein and high-fiber over high-carb. If you overate, it’s more than likely it was probably on carbs or junk food. The next day, choose lean, high-protein foods like grilled chicken, turkey, eggs, beans or lentils. They provide protein, fiber and plenty of vitamins to get you back on track to feeling better. In my experience it is best to avoid bread and most grains, with the exception of oatmeal. The simpler and more wholesome the food, the better! For example: Dinner could include grilled chicken, garlic roasted asparagus or broccoli and a baked sweet potato with a dab of almond butter. If you’re vegetarian, try replacing the chicken with lentils. Another great option is a hearty vegetarian soup.
3.) Fill your plate with greens, fruits and veggies. Choose color over plain, brown food. Try having a salad for lunch with extra veggies and spinach. Say no to the croutons and extra tortilla strips. Avoid excess dressing and try drizzling with balsamic vinegar instead. For breakfast, a yogurt or protein smoothie with berries is a wonderful option!
4.) Choose healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados). Try putting avocado in your morning smoothie or having a handful of roasted almonds as a snack. Incorporate these low carb, healthy fat foods into your snacks as much as possible! Remember to pay attention to serving size.
5.) Drink plenty of water (more than you normally would). This one is one of the most important things on the list. Your body is great at healing itself, so try your best to hydrate it by drinking at least 8 glasses of water. I often drink 2-3 liters per day, but please do what is best for your body. I’m not a doctor.
6.) Avoid processed food out of a box and make your meals at home from scratch. Read all ingredients and educate yourself about what’s in your food. My rule: Google the things I can’t pronounce or what you can’t understand. Of course, we can’t be perfect eaters but making your own meals eliminates a lot of extra additives because you’re more likely to know exactly what’s going in your food. Cooking for yourself can be as easy as you want or as difficult as you make it.
7.) Remember today is a new day. Don’t be so dang hard on yourself. This is only ONE day out of your entire life! So what if you ate too much or even if you ate 5 cupcakes. No one loves you less because of it and it certainly doesn’t define you as a human being. You have to accept your actions instead of dwelling on your so-called faults. I remember I used to have the absolute worst days after I binged. I would sit there completely miserable and unable to shake my feelings of guilt and shame. It took me a long time to love myself the way I do now, but it came after understanding my actions and relationship with food. Bottom line: I’m here to tell you that it’s going to be okay. You have a lifetime of decisions to make, so don’t let overeating or binging bring you down. Talk to someone about how your feeling or write it down, then move on to something else positive. You will survive this, I promise.
8.) Move your body! Time to get that blood flowing. A walk can both help clear your head and make you feel better. Don’t force yourself to go crazy at the gym to make up for what you ate, especially if you’re binging or overeating on a consistent basis. Changing your habits are about baby steps, so take it one day at a time. It’s amazing what a little bit of exercise endorphins can do for your brain and attitude – walking included!
Other things I have done to help make myself feel better:
- –Taken an activated charcoal pill. If you’ve ever seriously overeaten then you know how it can completely throw off your digestion. Activated charcoal helped me tremendously and I highly recommend it. You can read more about its benefits here.
- -Drink water with lemon or a small amount organic apple cider vinegar. I find that the acidity in the lemon or vinegar makes my stomach feel better immediately.
- -Take a probiotic pill or have some yogurt. The probiotics provide good bacteria to help you digest food and nutrients.
Things I DO NOT recommend:
- Going on a juice cleanse immediately. While I love a good juice cleanse every now and then, I don’t recommend doing it just because you want to lose weight immediately or if you overate. It’s much better to fuel your body with whole foods. To be frank with you, your body is much smarter than you think.
That’s all I have for you, but I’d love for you to share your experiences on this subject too!
Do you have any experience with overeating and/or binging on a consistent basis (whatever that means to you)?
Do you have any tips for getting back on track with food?
Anything else you want to share?
By the way, thanks for being so freaking cool and loyal to Ambitious Kitchen. I love you all beyond words. I’m still working on responding to all the posts from this Wellness Wednesday post, but please know that I read them all. xo!