We’ve all had one of those days (or even perhaps whole weekends) where we’ve overdone it on the eating and drinking. Today we are all feeling amazing after the big game last night! Go Pats! Our digestive systems however, may not be taking part in the celebration. After a day eating nachos washed down with Bud Light, our bellies may be crying out for help. Not only do events like Superbowl parties usually come with snacks that are absolutely delicious, but not so nutritious; they often come with a heaping helping of stress on the side… last night’s nail biter is no exception.
When you are in a stressed state your body initiates the flight or fight response. Non-essential systems like your digestion are put on the back burner, while your body focuses on providing more energy to your muscles and your heart. This response is critical when we are faced with actual life or death situations (like coming face to face with a lion) but it is not entirely beneficial when stressing over the outcome of say, a football game.
The combination of chowing down on those oh-so-delicious chicken wings while yelling at the TV because you disagree with the refs call on that play is a double whammy on your digestion. Hello nausea, gas, heartburn, bloating, indigestion, upset stomach and diarrhea. One day of unhealthy eating won’t totally derail your long-term healthy eating habits, as long as you get back on track and don’t let those habits snowball into days, weeks and months of unhealthy habits. Here are some tips to get back on track after a day of overindulging:
Drink some water… Lots of it
Aim to drink a large glass of water with each meal and sip water between meals. All the salt, sugar and alcohol may have caused you to become fairly dehydrated. You could also try squeezing a little fresh lemon into your water. Not only will this help the taste, but it may also stimulate your digestive system.
Focus on eating quality meals today and don’t skip any meals!
It may be tempting to skip a meal today to compensate for yesterday’s over indulgence, but you should resist the urge to do so. Instead, focus on having your regular number of meals, but make sure they are made up of healthy protein sources and plenty of fiber. These foods will help you get your digestion back on track and will keep you full and satisfied between meals. I’ve included a recipe below if you need some inspiration!
Get some exercise
If you are feeling a little yucky, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. You don’t have to go crazy, something like a simple walk can help stimulate your digestion and will also help to suppress the stress hormones that give you all those crazy cravings.
Get a good nights sleep
Getting 7-9 hours of sleep may make it easier to turn down unhealthy foods the next day. Studies have shown that those who get less than 5 hours of sleep a night show less food restraint than those who get the full 8-9 hours. In a University of Colorado study, those who got 5 or less hours ate more calories, and more fat than those who were considered well rested.
Lastly, give yourself a break…
It’s not a crime to overindulge on some of your favorite foods. How sad would life be if you could never fall face first into a plate of nachos again? Feeling guilty about your food choices or labeling foods as off-limits creates an emotional reaction that may lead to future binges or overindulgences down the road. If you don’t tell yourself “this is the last time I am going to eat (enter your favorite “junk” food here)” you are less likely to overdo it, because you know you can have it again sometime in the future.
Hungry for more? Check out this recipe for Strawberry Bacon Kale Salad from Diane Sanfilippo. I add chicken to mine to give it an extra protein kick. Also, this recipe calls for Tahini in the dressing, which I don’t usually have on hand, so I just skip it and it is still delicious. Want a little extra crunch? Add some sunflower seeds or walnuts to top it off.