empty plate with crumbs

By: Jennifer Riskevich, RD, LD

After an indulgent meal or weekend, you may feel upside down with your health and wellness goals – we’ve all  been there. Fortunately, one meal or one weekend will not derail your progress. So, let’s bounce back! Your future self awaits! 

MINDSET: Likely, you are feeling sluggish, bloated, and guilty. Your next move matters. Instead of wasting time  with regret and shame that can sabotage an entire week, give yourself grace in order to quickly pivot your focus  back to your wellness journey. Mindset will be your most powerful recovery strategy. Shifting away from an all-or nothing mentality will help you rebound and move swiftly toward your goals. Think about the big picture:  remember, you are looking for progress, small decisions consistently built over time to create lasting lifestyle  changes, not perfection. Amy Charland, Certified Wellness Coach, explains that perfection is not sustainable because  life is ever-changing. It will ultimately get in the way of reaching your goals. When you fall short of perfection, your  judgmental inner voice starts the attack on your self-esteem. This may lead you to abandon your goals altogether  (Charland, 2016). 

Therefore, after a binge, it is vital to reflect on the past progress you’ve made in spite of challenges. Progress is not  linear; an occasional misstep is part of the journey. It not only gives you the opportunity to reflect on past successes, but an opportunity to learn from obstacles and go after your goals with a new perspective. 

To learn more about how to recalibrate all-or-nothing thinking, visit our blog post on how to identify and recalibrate all-or-nothing thinking (Livea, 2021). 

HYDRATE: Next, your priority is to drink an abundance of water. You are likely dehydrated from extra calories,  salt, and perhaps alcohol. Your cells desperately need fluids to flush and remove waste. Staying hydrated will also  aid in digestion, reduce bloating, and increase your energy. To ensure adequate intake: drink water upon waking;  start early and sip throughout the day; opt for water instead of soda or energy drinks. For variety, create your own infused water in a mason jar, glass pitcher, water bottle, or gallon jug. Use tap or plain sparkling water and  experiment to find your preferred flavor, or combination of flavors. Here are some ideas: 

  • Lime + lemon + cilantro 
  • Lemon + ginger 
  • Lemon + Cucumber + lime + mint/basil 
  • Cucumber + grapefruit + sage/rosemary 
  • Watermelon + Cucumber + mint 
  • Watermelon + mint/rosemary/basil 
  • Raspberries + strawberries + mint 

NUTRIENT RICH FOODS: To aid in hydration, focus your dietary efforts on nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits  with 85% or higher water content including, but not limited to: lettuce, spinach, celery, bell peppers, broccoli,  cauliflower, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, oranges, peaches, pineapple  (Gordon, 2019). 

Most importantly, do not deprive yourself! After we indulge, it is key to return to your eating routine, including  small snacks between meals. Aim for meals and snacks that consist of a good balance of protein, fiber-filled carbs,  and fat. Registered Dietitian, Kacie Vavrek, at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recommends  sticking with vegetables, fruits, and other foods with high-fiber content to fill us up, as well as lean protein the day after a binge. These foods can help restore lost vitamins and minerals. Lean protein is also important because it is  digested slowly which keeps you feeling full and helps prevent food cravings (Ziel, 2017). 

GET UP AND MOVE: For a boost of energy, move your body! It can put you physically and emotionally right  back on track. No need to commit to a challenging or lengthy workout – focus on light exercise like a walk. It still burns calories and, most importantly, aids in digestion and levels out your blood sugar. 

To learn more about exercising from the comfort of your home, explore the variety of Livea’s Get Up and Move videos and live events (Livea, 2021). 

SLEEP: Get your ZZZs! Seven to nine hours of sleep is one of the best things you can do to get back on track after  a binge. It may even help you turn down fat and carb-laden trigger foods the next day. In a University of Colorado  study, participants who were only permitted to sleep five hours ate more the next day than those who got nine hours  of sleep. Researchers observed that the well-rested participants had more food restraint, not overeating, while those  who were sleep-deprived consumed more calories, especially from carbs and fat. (Wright, Markwald, Smith, et al.,  2013). 

REBOUND: As you move through your weight and wellness journey, remember that an occasional indulgent meal  or weekend is normal and will not derail your progress. Missteps are inevitable and part of the plan. Embrace them and rebound by utilizing strategies of mindset, hydration, body movement, sleep, and fueling with nutrient-dense foods. Go after your goals with fresh drive, perspective, and confidence.  

Charland, A. (2016). Focus on Progress, not Perfection.

Gordon, B. (2019). How Much Water Do You Need.

Livea (2021). All or Nothing Thinking. Livea Lifestyle Blog.

Livea (2021). Get Up and Move.

Wright, K., Markwarld, R., Smith, M., et al. (2013). Less Sleep Leads to More Eating and More Weight Gain.
https://www.colorado.edu/today/2013/03/11/less-sleep-leads-more-eating-and-more-weight-gain-according-new-cu boulder-study

Ziel, L. (2017). 5 Tips to Recover form a Food Binge.