I ate too much. Now what?
So you've eaten every protein, side, sauce and dessert on the table and haven’t worked out in at least a few weeks. What now?
Remain calm! That’s the message from your nutrition expert Angie. After all, you’re definitely allowed to enjoy yourself or take a break without feeling guilty.
“What you do consistently throughout the year matters more than what you do in one blowout meal or over a few weeks’ vacation,” she says.
As our resident dietitian and a certified personal trainer, Angie is here to answer your most common questions about overindulgence and lack of exercise.
A whole lotta food
I ate so much at dinner I can barely move. What should I do now?
The first thing I recommend is to not stress out about it. Stressing out and thinking you need to start a strict diet will only make matters worse.
You still need to fuel your body regardless of how much you ate the day before, so aim to eat a balanced main meal tomorrow. Make it heavy on nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and fish.
Also try to minimize your intake of ultra processed foods.
Would doing exercise be helpful when I feel like this?
Absolutely! You may not feel like doing plyometrics when you’re full up to your eyeballs, but any gentle exercise you enjoy, like going for a walk, will help you to feel better.
Not only is exercise going to help increase your energy expenditure and balance out the additional energy you consumed, but it can also help to relieve stress and improve your mood.
Try a gentle stretch with Tahl to relax and unwind.
I’ve eaten every rich, fatty, salty and sugary food possible. If I drink a lot of water it will help “flush out” excess salt and sugar? Or do I need a full detox?
While it’s always a good idea to drink plenty of water, it won’t necessarily ‘flush out’ excess salt and sugar you have consumed. Your body will still absorb the bulk of it.
As for a detox, you don’t need to do that just because you overindulged on sugar and fat. If you feel like you have really been overdoing the fatty foods, dial it back by refocusing on healthy sources of fat such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olives and fish.
If it’s sugar you’ve been going hard on, add more fruit to your diet and be sure to allow yourself sweet treats like Dan’s Triple Chocolate Cookies more regularly so you’re less tempted to overindulge in one sitting.
I think I’m in a food coma. What can I eat to energize myself?
If you’re just waking up, have a smoothie for breakfast. This will give you plenty of fiber, protein and nutrients, without making you feel overly full. Good options are a smoothie packed with leafy greens, chia or flaxseed and berries.
Quick and healthy? This Green Smoothie is your new best friend.
If my goal is to lose weight, do I need to skip my next meal to make up for overeating?
Definitely not. If you significantly undereat the day after a big blowout, it’s likely to backfire and cause you to feel hungrier and have more cravings in the days to come.
That can get you into a cycle of overeating or ‘yo-yo dieting’, and it won’t lead to long-term weight loss results.
I ate to the point of feeling sick. But I’m training to build muscle, so that’s okay, right?
If you’re eating to the point of being sick, you’re eating too much in one sitting.
Yes, you do need a calorie surplus to gain weight. But you’ll always feel better if you space these calories out across at least 4, maybe even 6 meals and snacks per day.
Plus, it’s more beneficial to consume your protein regularly throughout the day than in one large meal to promote muscle protein synthesis.
Too much drinking
I definitely have a hangover, but what’s going on in my body to make me feel this bad?
When you’re feeling hungover, your organs (especially the liver) are working hard to break down the alcohol.
Excess alcohol can lead to dehydration, which can leave you feeling bloated, fatigued, with electrolyte imbalances and experiencing digestive upset.
Why do I crave a fry up of eggs and bacon when I’m hungover?
It’s common to crave satiating and salty foods when you’re dehydrated. But this could also be a craving simply out of habit – if eggs and bacon have become your go-to after a night of drinking, it likely will sound the best to you.
While I’m not totally opposed to a salty post-hangover breakfast, I do think it could be made even better by incorporating plenty of fluids to help your body rehydrate. See my next answer!
I’ve heard a lot of shady hangover cures. What is the best thing I can do for my body?
No contest – drink fluids! This should be your top priority. I suggest a large smoothie made with coconut water or orange juice, with frozen berries and leafy greens for more potassium and magnesium.
Can I “sweat out” alcohol or toxins by exercising?
Your liver is in charge of breaking down alcohol, so you can’t simply sweat it all out by exercising. However, I do recommend moving your body as exercise could help improve your symptoms by boosting blood flow, energy levels and your mood.
No time to exercise
My only movement for the last few weeks has been from car to dining table to couch. How do I ease back into exercise?
Set a goal that almost feels too easy – one that will require a little thought and effort on your end, but that you’re confident you can successfully accomplish. It could be 5 minutes of walking each night after dinner.
The same goes for riding a bike, jogging, strength training or stretching.
Getting started is truly the hardest part, but if you commit to that first 5 minutes, chances are most days you’ll be able to go longer.
Ride the wave by moving in a way that is easy for you.
Should I be focusing on a particular kind of exercise if I’m too busy to do as many workouts as I would normally?
My recommendation is a combination of cardio and strength training. For example, if you can only work out 2 or 3 days a week, you could do 1 day of cardio and 2 days of lifting until you can get back to your regular routine.
If you’re training to build muscle and can’t squeeze in your regular training days, stick to compound movements that work multiple muscles at once and exercises you have already mastered, so you can make the most of your time in the gym.
Time to reset
How do I reset in a healthy way?
Write down a few goals that are achievable in the short term, plus a few long term goals. Then make minor adjustments to your daily routine that will help you progress towards them.
For example, you might start meal prepping for a few meals each week or shift your workouts to a time of day you’re more likely to get them done.
Re-energize your routine with these nutrient-dense reset recipes.
Is the “I overdid it last month, so I can only eat celery this month” mindset a trap?
Eating healthy or getting ‘back on track’ doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Restricting yourself from entire food groups is not only unsustainable, but increases your chances of falling into too large a calorie deficit, fatigue impacting your workouts and muscle growth, irritability, hormone imbalances… the list goes on.
There are much healthier and more realistic ways to approach a reset that don’t involve a full detox or fad diet – see my answer above!
Will hitting the workouts hard “make up for” an overindulgent vacation?
No. This is an unhealthy way to view your relationship with exercise and food. You should enjoy taking a break and catching up with people. If you have built up good habits, you know you can go back to them and you won’t feel the need to “make up” for anything.
Sports dietitian Angie Asche will power your plate with no-nonsense food advice. Founder of Eleat Sports Nutrition, Angie works with MLB, NFL and NHL athletes to get the best from their bodies. With a Masters of Science in Nutrition & Physical Performance, and as a certified exercise physiologist and personal trainer, she’s got the expertise you need to achieve your goals.
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