So – some weekends just really need a whole lot of indulgence (read: overeating). Those same weekends seem to also need some serious remediation, so here’s the story and the toolkit.
Recovering from Overeating:
For those of you who know me or are my clients, you know that I am as much about giving yourself what makes you happy (even if it’s not always healthy ) as I am about taking care of your health because when it comes down to it, those are the same things. So this weekend, for a variety of reasons, what I needed was some major feel-good overeating indulgence that doesn’t fall into the health category. This indulgence fell into the yummy category and included a nice gin martini and some amazing fries. Also something called “Shankenstein” which NoVa restaurant here in Austin claims is fried pork and beef terrine (read: the most awesome salty, fatty, crispy-on-the-outside deep fried meat thingy ever), blueberry doughnuts and lemongrass panna cotta with (not joking) meringue “fruit loops” suspended in it. My god.
What that actually amounts to is five million calories (approx) and about a gallon of fat, seasoned with sugar and washed down with alcohol. Quite obviously when I indulge I do it big. It was actually pretty awesome and probably not what my body wanted but certainly what my soul needed – I wouldn’t do it any differently. So for you I will share my tools to make this necessary soul-salving awesomeness not quite so health-damning. Here’s the recovering from overeating or overindulging tool-kit:
- Take your enzymes. I know I’m not good with wheat and gluten (ahem. doughnuts) but some days, like this weekend, I do indulge. For me, it’s important to have an enzyme that I can take with my food that covers the wheat and gluten thing (the ingredient to look for is DPP-IV) but for you, it might be something else. More lipase or even ox bile if you know you don’t handle overeating fats well, lactase if you’re lactose intolerant. Protease if you have trouble with heavy protein-rich meals or betaine HCl if your digestion is weak overall. I took mine and they helped me recover and spared me some of the wheat-related fallout the next day. Obviously, if your big indulgence isn’t food-related then you can probably skip the enzymes, but if there’s food in there then plan ahead.
- Don’t forget your water. It sounds mundane, but obviously, I’m asking my body to process a whole boat-load of salt, sugar, and alcohol so I’d better give it some extra water to help flush those things out effectively. Otherwise, I’d turn into stay-puffed marshmallow woman and feel horrid the next day (for the record I did just fine). Not just the usual amount of water, but actually extra water to help your body recover from the extra indulgence.
- Move around some. Thankfully the uber-meal was followed by walking and then dancing. Not a whole lot, but enough to remind my body not to settle and congeal into a lump of poorly-moving blobbiness. The walking and little bit of dancing reminded my body that it can use some of those calories for actual fuel and not just store them away as a keepsake of this evening. Outside of that, gentle activity helps to keep blood flowing and actually encourage my body to work through all of that.
- Indulge, but slowly. The best meals are enjoyed slowly and in good company. When the meal is a several hour process there is time for your body to cope with the onslaught of overeating and overindulgence and not get over-full or skimp on the digestive steps that will make this recovery quick the next day. Take the time to laugh, share stories and generally connect over the meal and it will all work out much more easily. Obviously the same goes for alcohol. Slamming the drinks down will only get you blind-drunk, where savoring gets you the joy of a great drink or two without the accompanying hangover and ridiculousness.
- Get what really matters to you. Good food is my thing. It’s my go-to happy place of choice if things are rough or rocky. Not just food, or lots of food, but *good* food. Given the options, it would have been easier to just have crappy food but a lot of it and really overeat – but that wouldn’t feed my soul the same way. Better for me to indulge in the thing that will really make me happy and get it out of my system. There are always substitutes, but that kind of defeats the purpose. If you’re going to indulge choose the thing that will feed your soul the most. For me, that’s great food and dancing (camping is right up there, but harder to arrange). For someone else it might be a day trip out of town, an entire day in bed with Netflix, a pedicure, a massage or whatever else you can think of that brings joy.
- Drop the guilt. Guilt, although we’re culturally good at it, doesn’t actually help anyone do anything at all (except if you’re really looking to give yourself an ulcer. Then it will help). Life is difficult and messy and wonderful and painful and sometimes it requires a little bit of taking-care-of-you. In fact, I think life requires far more taking-care-of-you than most people do. I’m not talking about the things you do because they’re easy (like fast food) or the things you do because you’re burned out (like reality TV) – I’m talking about the things that help you to feel alive and joyful and like yourself even when things aren’t going the way you want them to. Now – if that thing for you is reality TV then by all means, but choose your pleasure to maximize your benefit. Give yourself the gift of an indulgence with permission – no strings attached. No guilt, no judgment, no negative self-talk. None of that. Overeat or indulge, recover, and move on.
- Enjoy every second. It’s so easy, especially when you’re not in a great place, to choose your big treat and then not notice that you’re having it because you’re so busy thinking about your troubles. Drop the worry, skip the troubles and really focus on your gift-to-you (SHANKENSTEIN). If you notice your mind wandering in a dark direction, just focus again on whatever it is that you’re enjoying at the moment. Indulgence as a form of meditation? Oh yes. That’s the whole point.
- Know the difference between self-indulgence and self-destruction. There is a difference between enjoying a great meal with alcohol, and enjoying a bottle of alcohol, a blackout and a trip to the ER to get your stomach pumped. Likewise enjoying a fantastic meal is self-indulgence where eating your way through a bag of mini snickers and a box of doughnuts is overeating à la self-destruction. Indulgence makes you happy and isn’t exactly healthy and probably isn’t part of your normal routine, but it’s also not going to do you any serious damage. If you get into the seriously damaging category then you’re probably crossing over into self-destruction, self-punishment, and self-harm. Give yourself an evening of overeating, recover and be glad for it, but keep your eyes open. Don’t wander down the road of self-destruction because those lessons often turn out to be much harder than whatever the original trouble is that you’re dealing with.
The bottom line is to enjoy your indulgence when you need it and then get on with actually dealing with whatever it is that’s getting you down in the first place. Recovering from overeating isn’t a big deal as long as you plan accordingly and don’t just keep overeating. Sometimes you really do need to make your joy a priority.