The Worst Ways to Recover From a Food Binge
With Thanksgiving behind us, letâs take a moment to reflect on the (many) food and fitness lessons learned. If youâre like us, you learned the hard way that you didnât need a third serving of sweet potato casserole, afterall. But the schooling probably carried over to the hours and days post-holiday. If you woke up and practically starved yourself the next day or went way, way too hard at the gym, you now know thatâs not the best way to recover from a food binge. But for those of you who are lucky enough to not have to learn these things the hard way, hereâs a list of what not to do the next time you overdo it.
And letâsÂ be real here: Most of us we are going to slip into at least one more food coma between Thanksgiving and New Years. A slip-up, however, doesnât point to an inevitable downfall. That is, unless you make one of these common post-binge mistakes.Â
1. You donât eat at all
A lot of guys think that if they eat two daysâ worth of calories one day, they can eat zero the next and it will be just like they never binged in the first place. Unfortunately, calorie math isnât that straight forward, says Wesley Delbridge, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. When you cut your calories to zero (or really to anything under about 1,400 calories a day) your body switches into starvation mode, slowing down your metabolism and promoting even more weight gain, he says. Plus, once your body mows through your liverâs stored carbohydrates, it could make you so ravenous that you end up binging yet again. And, honestly, who feels like hitting the gym when they havenât eaten in nearly 24 hours?
2. You beat yourself up
Kicking yourself over your eating mistakes backfires big time. It makes you feel crappy about yourself, which has a way of manifesting itself in second, third, and fourth binge sessions, he says. In fact, 2011 research published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology shows that perfectionists, by obsessing over their mistakes, are actually at an increased risk of suffering from a binge-eating disorder.
3. You snack on leftovers
The more days you spend eating that stuffing, pie, and mac and cheese, the more days youâre likely to gain, not lose, weight. âThese simple carb-rich foods cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to shoot way up and down, so that you store your calories as fat,â Delbridge says. âWhen you snack on these leftovers, itâs basically like youâre following your one big binge with a bunch of smaller ones.â And, once your Tupperware containers finally do hit empty, itâll be more difficult than ever to switch back to healthy eating, he says. âYour body adjusts to whatever youâve been eating, so when you start eating smaller, healthier meals again, your body will think youâre starving.â Expect cravings, crazy-loud stomach growls, and the need for a lot of willpower.
4. You hit your gymâhard
The day of a binge, any high-intensity workoutsâespecially those that involve a good bit of stomach jostlingâmay not be your best bet. After all, throwing up your mashed potatoes on the treadmill does no one, least of all your gymâs cleaning crew, any favors. Plus, right after a session of overeating, a surge of insulin hits your bloodstream to lower your crazy high blood sugar levels, he says. A couple of hours later (about the time your stomach no longer feels like itâs playing host to the predator), your blood sugar levels are likely pretty low, meaning that high-intensity workouts could give you a case of the spins.
5. You try to âdetoxâ your body
âThis annoys me more than anything else,â Delbridge says. âBiologically, no cleanse can actually âdetoxâ your body. Your body detoxes itself on its own. But, since cleanses are extremely low-calorie and typically low in actual food, they do send your body into starvation mode and slow your metabolism.â
6. You sleep it off
Even if you arenât logging a max-effort workout session, after a binge, you still need to move. If you just nap on the couch or follow your food binge with a Netflix marathon, the vast majority of the sugar coursing through your blood stream will end up being stored in your fat cells, he says. However, if you get in a light workout, or even just walk around the block immediately after your meal, youâll use at least some of that sugar for energy.
7. You start hard-core dieting
Going straight from a binge into a full-fledged diet is like cannonballing, butt-naked, into a 33-degree pool. It sucks. âPsychologically, you resent the fact that youâre dieting and get angry about the foods you âcanâ eat and the ones you âcanât,â Delbridge says. Hence why about a third of New Year resolution-makers have given up on their weight-loss efforts by February, according to research from the University of Scranton.