How to Bounce Back After a Holiday Food Binge - Virtua Article

How to Bounce Back from a Holiday Food Binge

By Katalin Russek, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian—Virtua Nutrition

Your holiday was filled with family, friends and fun. But along with the laughs and good times, you probably indulged in wine, rich desserts and extravagant meals. While you enjoyed the indulgence in the moment, now you may feel lousy—physically and emotionally.

You can recover from the effects of holiday overeating, but you’ll have to do a little work to get your eating back on track. With these tips, you’ll start feeling better pretty quickly.

The effects of unhealthy eating

If you indulged in a few days of eating unhealthy foods, you’re probably feeling certain signs of discomfort, including:

Constipation: Foods high in fat and carbohydrates and low in dietary fiber may lead to constipation (difficulty with bowel movements). The biggest culprits are cheese, red meats and processed foods like cookies and crackers that have lots of fat and little to no fiber.

Bloating: Cheese, soups, sauces and processed foods like potato chips and salad dressings are some foods that are notoriously high in salt. But, even bread can be high in sodium. These salty foods can make you retain water, leading to a bloated feeling. Higher-fat foods may also take longer to digest and contribute to bloating as well.

Emotional effects: When you binge on unhealthy foods, it’s normal to feel as though you’ve done something wrong. You may feel guilty and disappointed with yourself. Or, you might have problems concentrating and sleeping due to the physical discomfort.

How do you overcome the effects of binge eating unhealthy foods?

While you may think you should skip a meal or two, that’s actually the worst thing you can do. You need to return to regular healthy eating as soon as possible. Try to aim for healthy foods that include:

  • Whole grains
  • Varied fruits and vegetables
  • Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils
  • Yogurt or low-fat dairy
  • Protein such as lean meat, poultry, fish and nuts
  • At least 6-8 glasses of water a day

You’ll find that having a healthy eating plan in place before the holiday, can help you when you're at parties and dinners and faced with sugary, salty, and high-fat options. Don’t arrive starving or think: “I’ll skip breakfast/lunch so I can eat more later.” Eat your regular healthy meals, then go to the party and eat the quantity you would normally eat. But, be mindful of what you’re eating, choose the foods you most want, and eat them slowly—enjoying every bite.

Will extra workouts burn the excess calories? 

Some research shows that regular exercise during a period of overeating could protect people from negative metabolism changes. Both cardiovascular exercise and weight training are recommended, especially for weight loss and maintenance. Just be careful not to overdo a workout thinking it will help you burn the excess calories you consumed. 

If you need a little extra help coming up with a healthy eating plan that works for you, call 1-888-VIRTUA-3 to schedule a consultation with a Virtua registered dietitian. 


Updated December 3, 2018

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Make an appointment with a Virtua registered dietitian

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