The holidays are a time of overindulgence. In the past, I’ve shared tips to help you eat right during this celebration-filled time of year, but let’s face it – sometimes you end up giving in to temptation and overdoing it at the office party or cookie swap. Until the day comes when you’re able to hop in a time machine and go back to undo the damage of eating one (or ten) too many cookies, here’s what you can do to make yourself feel better (both physically and mentally) after overeating:
- Hydrate. In an ideal situation, you’d be drinking lots of water before surrounding yourself with holiday treats, and all that water would instill a sense of satiety that would prevent you from overeating. However, once the damage has already been done, water still has benefits, and you should drink it copiously. Water flushes out sodium and speeds up the process of digestion, both of which will help you feel less bloated after a large meal or treat binge.
- Stay upright. Although you may be tempted to immediately transition into nap mode after overindulging, giving into this urge may do more harm than good. Remaining seated (or better yet, getting up and moving – more on that next) after eating will help prevent indigestion and acid reflux, both of which often crop up after eating too much.
- Get moving. Performing light exercise, such as walking, after a large meal (or any meal, for that matter), has several benefits, including the release of feel-good endorphins that may help counteract the bad feelings you experience after overeating. Exercise also burns calories, and new research shows that it may help stabilize blood sugar for hours after you eat.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Overeating happens to the best of us, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to feel bad enough about your choices that you turn to eating more unhealthy food in order to feel better. Once you realize that tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to start fresh and get back into your typical healthy habits, you’ll be able to use your adventures in overeating as a teachable moment.
- Fill up on the good (for you) stuff. On those days when you’re not overdoing it at holiday gatherings, aim to eat as many good-for-you foods as possible, both to emphasize healthy eating habits and provide your body with the nutrition it needs to help you feel your best. In the long run, eating a balance of whole grains, lean protein, heart-healthy fat, and lots of fruits and vegetables will help you feel more satisfied than a plate of cookies ever can.
These tips neither serve as an excuse to overeat, nor as an admonition to not enjoy the food that goes along with holiday celebrations. It’s okay to be naughty every once in awhile – but you can still feel nice afterward if you come armed with the strategies above.