Sure, I am a nutritionist but my relationship with food isn’t always perfect. I’ve got strategies in place, but I still come up against that raw pain of life’s challenges. Maybe you struggle with this too.
Anne Lamott describes this when she succumbed to an apple fritter: “I was so lost, and I couldn’t follow the bread crumbs back to the path of mental health, because I’d eaten them all. So I ended up eating junk, off and on, until bedtime. It is hard to remember that you are a cherished spiritual being when you’re burping up apple fritters and Cheetos.”
She describes the next day as being filled with guilt, shame, self-hatred and sentencing, promises, and punishment. Aftermath is so painful that it may only be soothed by more eating, an irony that fuels the cycle. Oh, Annie, we get it!
Whether you slipped and had a bite of something you are trying to eliminate, ate more at dinner than you planned, or found yourself face down in a sea of cookie batter, it all falls under the “I blew it” feeling.
What happened? You were so motivated, so determined!
You’re human. It happens. Now, graciously accept that reality, and let’s move on.
You and I are on this path for the long haul. Recalibrating your relationship to food is a daily practice, not a sprint.
You simply stepped into one of the many booby traps hidden along the path to a healthier you. Fortunately, booby traps aren’t permanent—you can forgive yourself and get back on track toward achieving your goals . . . and be all the wiser for getting through it.
How to mitigate damage after a food meltdown or binge.
Forgive yourself. That’s right. Pick yourself up. Be extra gentle with yourself. It helps to use the word “sweetheart,” as in: “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Take a breath and let’s pay attention to what’s occurring. Let’s investigate what’s under the pain.” Meanwhile, get right back on plan. The repercussions from a slip will not harm you. I promise you. Beating yourself up, wallowing in guilt, and ruminating will. A negative mindset actually fuels the flames of inflammation as much or more than eating bad food.
Manage your false hunger: if you have a “food hangover” your blood sugar may fluctuate wildly. This will cause false hunger and a powerful desire to eat more sugar and/or carbs.
Write in your food journal. What was happening in the day and moments before the incident? Were you hungry, cranky, sleep-deprived? Feeling sad or lonely? Missing a certain food?
Engage in exercise: Whether your go-to is sprints or dancing or yoga, go sweat it out. It will quell the toxic emotions that linger after a binge.
Resume normal eating habits. Repeat after me: Do not restrict. As long as your long-term habits are strong you’ll leave the binge in the rearview. Eat breakfast. Consume nutritionally dense meals that satisfy you that have protein, fiber, veggies, and good fats.
Drink extra water. Water is essential to our natural detoxification processes. It helps us get rid of wastes, reduces fluid retention and bloating, regulates bowel movements, and fights inflammation. Make your water bottle one of your new besties.
Make a meal plan. Are your fridge and pantry stocked with what you need for the week? Sketch out your meals and snacks for the next few days after your food binge.