How to Get Back on Track with your Weight Loss Goals After a Binge
Binge eating refers to eating large quantities of food in a short period. Binge eating is something that most people do on occasion. It's especially common when on a weight loss journey or restricting calories because cravings often hit hard when we deprive ourselves of calories or food groups.
Binge eating can be frustrating and often cause people to fall off the wagon because they feel like they've done too much damage. But in reality, losing control and overeating on occasion is normal and doesn't derail your weight loss journey. When you binge eat, the best thing you can do to get back on the wagon as quickly as possible.
So, for example, if you woke up on Easter morning and went crazy on the chocolate, it doesn't mean the whole day needs to be a right off. Instead, opt for more veggies at lunch and aim to drink 3+ litres of water throughout the day. The quicker you get back on the wagon, the better you'll feel. And, the better you'll realise that having a little indulgence now and then is okay. It's what you do for 90% of the time that will bring you results.
Here are our top tips on how to get back on track with your weight loss goals after a binge.
Don't skip meals
We know it can be tempting to skip a meal after a binge, but this is the worst thing you can do. Not only will you miss out on nutritious foods, but you also risk allowing yourself to get too hungry and succumb to another binge. Studies show that people who skip meals are more likely to binge eat. One of the main reasons is that the levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) become elevated, which can cause cravings for high-energy foods.
Instead, eat three nutritious meals a day leads to stabilised blood sugar levels and reduced cravings. When our blood sugar levels are stable, our body's hormones stay more regulated, our cravings are reduced and our mood is more likely to remain a constant instead of swinging all over the place.
With or without a binge, drinking enough water is vital to your general health. This is because your body uses water to maintain all bodily functions; it also regulates your temperature, assists with weight loss, and keeps your appetite under control. People who drink adequate water are more likely to consume fewer calories and have higher rates of weight loss than those who don't. A study found that adults who drank 500ml of water before their meal consumed 13% less total calories than those who didn't. The reason can be attributed to the fact that when we are dehydrated, our bodies can mistake the physiological response to dehydration for hunger. So, if you're hungry, but you've just eaten, try having a big glass of water. And in general, aim to have a glass of water a few minutes before each meal.
A regular exercise regime will do wonders for your weight loss, overall health and mental wellbeing. When we exercise, hormones called endorphins are released, and these hormones can generate positive feelings, increased energy and an improved sense of wellbeing.
Binge eating often coincides with low energy and negative feelings. We're sure most people can think of a time when they've had a bad day and then overeaten. So, you can see the positive feelings caused by regular exercise can reduce the occurrence of overeating.
Regular exercise can also help us keep our health goals at the forefront of our minds. For example, if you've just been for a walk or have been to the gym and completed a workout, eating McDonalds for lunch is probably the last thing you'll want to do. Instead, you're more likely to want to fuel your body with nutritious foods that will add to the benefits of your workout.
Load up of vegetables
Eating vegetables, and lots of them is the best thing you can do post-binge. Vegetables are abundant in the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs to thrive. Knowing you're fuelling your body with goodness will help you forget about the binge's negative impact. Plus, vegetables are jam-packed with fibre, which helps us get rid of waste. When we eat foods high in fibre, as we digest the food, it swells with water and provides bulk to our stool, which helps it to move along the intestines. So, you know that sluggish feeling associated with a binge? Fibre will help that feeling go away quicker. Foods highest in fibre include vegetables and fruit, legumes, beans, and whole grains.
Practise mindful eating
Mindful eating refers to paying close attention while eating. This includes how it feels to chew your food, as well as the taste, texture, and smell of food. It involves thinking about where your food came from, how much you’re enjoying it and the effect it will have on your body. Studies have shown a reduction in binge eating in people who practise mindful eating. And mindful-eating has even been used to help treat patients who suffer from binge-eating disorders. It’s believed to increase self-awareness by bringing attention to eating behaviours. You can imagine it would be hard to eat a whole block of chocolate if you’re present in the moment and considering how much sugar is in each piece, how you will feel after consuming it, and its effect on your body.
Don't punish yourself
Binge eating can make you feel really down on yourself. It can impact your motivation to continue eating healthy and can cause feelings of shame and embarrassment. But it's important to remember that overeating is normal now and then. There are so many delicious foods; of course, it's hard to be in control 100% of the time. Punishing yourself and putting yourself down for binge eating isn't beneficial in any way. It will only keep you off the wagon for longer and postpone your ability to get back on track. So instead, acknowledge the fact that you have overeaten and aim to understand why it might have happened. Have you been too restrictive with your diet, skipped meals, or are you hormonal? Or did you have a bad night's sleep? All of these factors influence our hunger, hormones and decision-making abilities. So understanding the reason for your binge will help you avoid it in the future. For example, if the binge resulted from a bad night's sleep, the next time you have a disrupted night, you could decide to focus on eating super nutritious meals the next day. This will ensure you're on the front foot and provide your body with the energy it needs to power through the day before reaching for the sugary snacks.
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Shevi is a qualified nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food sciences. As a new mum herself, she is passionate about postnatal-related nutrition. Shevi has worked alongside some of the most famous leaders and celebrities in the fitness industry throughout Australia and the UK.
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