We've all been there—a well-followed diet plan runs afoul after a night of too much pizza (or pasta or ice cream or...). But one day of overeating doesn't need to mean the demise of your diet. Here's exactly what you can do to counteract a day of overdoing it.
It may not be the most exciting thing you do all day, but drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning is the first step to getting off to a good start. Make the water lukewarm and add a slice or two of lemon to really get things going. Once you've finished your first glass, keep it up throughout the day to flush out your system, keep another round of overeating at bay, and start to repair yesterday's damage. If you're a coffee or tea drinker, go ahead and indulge in a cup, since this will jumpstart your metabolism too—just go easy on the fixings.
Don't skip breakfast
While it may be tempting to skip breakfast as a way to even out the score from yesterday's overeating, it's a tactic that's very likely to backfire. Skipping breakfast may lead to hunger pangs later in the day that could lead you to binge again. Opt for something with protein and fiber, like a protein smoothie with some greens added. Chances are, you won't feel like eating a big meal anyway.
Go green for lunch
Eating every 3-4 hours after a major indulgence might seem counter-intuitive, but as long as you're eating the right things, it's the best way to go. Enjoy a protein-packed salad with salmon, nuts, and plenty of vegetables to keep your blood sugar at an even keel all day. If you're feeling a sugar craving coming on, have some complex carbs to keep it at bay. Oh, and don't forget to sip more water throughout your meal—hydration is key!
A few hours after lunch, you might be feeling that mid-afternoon slump—but don't reach for salty snacks, which can leave you feeling bloated. Instead, opt for a small serving of fruit. Berries are great for easy snacking, but a banana will also fit the bill (and the potassium will help you beat bloat, too). If you usually have another cup of coffee around 3pm, opt for green tea instead to stay hydrated and enjoy a little boost.
While you might not feel up to your normal circuit at the gym after yesterday's overeating, it's still important to get moving sometime during your day. After work, skip the subway and walk to your errands, or try a restorative yoga class that you'd usually think wasn't intense enough. This is the perfect time to try something you normally might pass up. because all you need is some activity that will promote digestion.
Dine on something light
Echo the formula of the day's lunch by reaching for veggie-heavy dishes for dinner. A homemade vegetable soup (light on the salt) or another salad (this time with chicken or tofu) might be just what your body is looking for. Keep sipping water, or try a tea that promotes digestion like chamomile, mint, or fennel.
It's recommended to hit the sheets about 3 hours after your last meal—but that means actually going to sleep, not accidentally staring at a blue screen until the early hours. A good night's sleep (7-8 hours) will help your body reset from yesterday and will also put you in the right frame of mind to eat healthily the following morning—something that can set you up for success all day long. Darken your room as much as possible, covering any light-emitting devices (even a subtle blue-green blink from a phone or laptop can be disruptive). Let yourself relax and really enjoy the prospect of 7+ hours of uninterrupted sleep, and tomorrow your eating patterns will be back on track.