How to get back on track after a binge
Overeating used to be a huge problem for me. I struggled massively with starving myself and then eating ridiculous amounts of food. I’d eat to the point I felt physically sick, hate myself for being so out of control, and then resume starvation phase again… until the next binge.
When I decided to change my eating habits and control my cravings for good, I made good progress. But it didn’t mean I never went wrong. Even though I had started to make changes, sometimes I’d have a horrible day (being a solopreneur is hard sometimes). When I felt stressed out of my mind I’d still turn into the Cookie Monster.
However good your intentions, things may not always go to plan.
I know it can feel overwhelming. You have enough to worry about in a day, and it’s easy to doubt yourself and feel like one setback means total failure. But I promise that one binge (and even a few more) doesn’t mean you’ll never get your cravings under control– as long as you have a plan for getting back on track.
Here are five easy steps you can take to take to put things right:
1. Be curious, not judgemental
You’re human, and sometimes things don’t run to plan. We all make mistakes – so don’t beat yourself up if you do slip back into old habits. Rather than becoming anxious or angry with yourself, see this process as an opportunity to learn.
Try asking yourself a few questions:
- Was I restricting anything before my binge?
- When I was bingeing, at what point did I feel like I’d satisfied my cravings?
- Am I still hungry?
- How does my body feel now?
- What can I learn from this?
Asking these questions won’t always change things in the short-term, but it will start to help you get more ideas about why you might really have been bingeing and how you can change things so you’re less likely to do it again.
2. Drink plenty of water
Water is the best way to help your body recover after a binge. Not only will it only improve your digestion, but it also helps flush your system. Ideally start drinking an hour after you’ve eaten: try and sip water regularly rather than chugging down pints of it, so that your body can absorb it properly (otherwise much of it will just pass straight through you!).
I know that drinking water can be a little boring if you’re more used to flavoured drinks. Here’s a quick recipe you can try to pep up your water: it won’t give you a sugar rush like fruit juice (which can set off your cravings) but it’s just as delicious.
1 jug room temperature water AND
½ cup your favourite berries, chopped
OR ½ cup cucumber and mint, chopped
OR ½ cup your favourite citrus fruits, chopped
Add your chosen flavourings to the water. Cover the jug and leave to stand for a few hours until the flavours have developed. Strain into another jug or into bottles, pour and enjoy.
Room temperature water is easier for your body to absorb, but if you prefer you can chill the water in a refrigerator, or add ice to each glass to cool. You can refill the jug a couple of times using the same ingredients, but the flavour will be diluted each time.
3. Take a brisk walk
Just to be clear: exercising after you binge isn’t about making amends for some wrongdoing, or a way of working off the calories. Getting moving boosts your body’s production of serotonin – a hormone that regulates your mood – so you’ll start feeling brighter after just 15 minutes or so.
This is especially helpful if you know you’re going to struggle with being non-judgemental about your binge. Sitting down and dwelling on it definitely won’t make you feel any better!
Walking is ideal as it gets you out in nature – helping you to clear your head and reduce tension and stress – but if you need to stay indoors then yoga or another gentle exercise would work.
If your binge involved alcohol, you may need to skip this step for the moment. Wait until you’ve recovered before you get moving again.
4. Focus on protein, fibre and healthy fats in your next meal
Eat your next meal at the appropriate time, and focus on making it protein-rich, with fibre and healthy fats (eg. a piece of lean meat or vegetable protein with some broccoli and cauliflower roasted in olive oil).
This type of meal will help you balance your blood sugar, which may be struggling to stabilise after a binge. Eating plenty of protein will also help you feel fuller for longer, so keep you from being tempted to snack.
Carbs are not a problem as long as they’re not processed: focusing on fibre is the key and makes veggies your best option. Vegetables are full of fibre and have so many other nutritional benefits that your body will be especially appreciative of post-binge. You can add potato, whole grains and other healthy carbs to your meal if you’re not already feeling bloated.
5. Carry on as if nothing happened
The most productive way to get back on track after a binge is to draw a line in the sand and move right on. Don’t start starving yourself, skipping meals or finding other creative ways to cut calories: your body won’t thank you for it, and will probably respond with even stronger cravings for you to try and manage.
It’s also important you don’t look at your binge as a reason to give up on your better eating habits. If you’ve been here before, you may be in the mindset of “screw it… I’ve already got wet, I may as well go jump in the sea!” but before you do, ask yourself if that’s what you really want.
Go back to thinking about why you wanted to stop eating like this in the first place. Think about your big reason for wanting to change, and what it will mean to you when you get where you want to be. Remind yourself how good you’ll feel when you don’t have to worry about overeating at all anymore.
When you’re in the right state of mind, it’s much easier to go back to normal straight away. Eat healthy meals regularly during the day, and try to avoid anything that may have triggered your binge before.
Be curious about your behaviour, be kinder to yourself about your mistakes, and put steps in place to feel better when these things happen. If you do, you’ll soon find yourself bingeing less, and eventually getting out of the cycle completely.