Overeating SOS

Overeating? Here’s help.

This post was written by frequent guest contributor, Christen Cupples Cooper (www.coopernutrition.com and www.nutritioned.net)

Help for overeating is here! Last week, I celebrated my 40th birthday in big ways. I treated myself to lunch and a make-your-own frozen yogurt sundae. Then, after dinner I had a big slice of chocolate and vanilla mousse birthday cake. Yes, this is a nutritionist talking!

Even nutrition experts take a day off from healthy eating once in a while. The important thing is to get back on track as quickly as possible. Don’t let a day or two of overeating plunge you into despair. Keep exercising, make small adjustments and you’ll quickly get your groove back.

Here is my recovery strategy, which you can use next time you take a vacation from healthy eating.

  • Stay active (even on the days that you pig out).

I stayed active on my birthday. By doing this, I didn’t fall out of my exercise routine and I burned a few extra calories, even though I consumed well more than I burned. I took a tennis lesson and took a short walk outside. These activities probably burned about 350 calories—not at all equal to the 600 or 700 extra calories I ate in junk food! That’s OK, though, because I did other things to repair my damage in the days following my celebration.

For many people, having a pig out day means tossing exercise to the wind. Just because you are eating extra food doesn’t mean you should forego your endorphin rush and heart healthy movement for the day. Exercising helps you feel good, so make it part of your indulgence.

In terms of food, for the two days following my birthday, I made sure to:

  • Focus on my recovery plan, not on guilt. There is no sense to beating yourself up after eating too much. The fact is, it takes 3,500 calories above and beyond what your body uses in a day to equal a pound gained. In my case, for example, with just 700 calories over my budget, I am not going to gain any weight unless I keep overeating. A couple of days of diet repair and I would breaking even again. 
  • Cut out sweet treats. (I had a piece of fruit instead on two occasions.) Yes, fruit still has calories, but a 100-calorie medium banana or cup of fresh berries will not set you back as far as a 500-calorie dessert will.)

  • Avoid unnecessary extras. For me, “extras” include things like creamy or oily salad dressing, alcoholic beverages, chips or pretzels. It’s the kind of stuff that you may like to have, but you could live without.
  • No undereating. Many people undereat the day before, the day of, or the day after a big celebration. While this may seem like a good way to cut back on calories, it often just makes you so hungry that you eat more overall. So the day after I overate, I didn’t slam on the brakes. I cut out sweets and extras, but ate about the same otherwise.

The message here is that you should treat yourself on special occasions and then employ a reasonable recovery plan that includes cutting out sweets and extras and keeping up your exercise routine. No self-torture, no fretting. Let the good times roll!

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