How to Bounce Back After a Food Binge
By Maria Hart
‘Tis the season to overdo it with stuffing, turkey, buttery rolls, and pie, pie, and more pie. With all the office parties, cookie swaps, and holiday potlucks (just us?) this time of year, it’s especially hard to avoid overeating. But really, stuffing yourself rotten isn’t limited to the holidays. Sometimes that late-night frozen pizza somehow becomes single-serving with gut-busting repercussions.
Hey, it happens to the best of us. But the real problem is usually what happens after—in our body and our mind.
Are you filled with regret, dejectedly pondering starting a juice cleanse? Or do you feel the urge to go for broke, double down, and top it all off with a big bowl of froyo (or maybe a big bowl of Reese’s, mochi, Captain Crunch, and rainbow sprinkles)? Do you wallow in the damage for hours or even days?
Don’t fret. Sometimes reframing the situation and having an action plan is all you need to rebound ASAP.
Emotionally: Reframe the Sitch
It can be easy, post-gluttony, to beat yourself up. Things like “no self-control,“ “lazy,” and “gross” can get thrown around. Maybe you run five miles and end up making yourself sick. Or swear off eating for an entire day. It’s super easy to treat your body to all types of abuse post-gorgefest, but here’s where taking a step outside yourself is critical.
As the custodian for your body, you’re responsible for its care—just like you’d be responsible for a child that you’re babysitting. Imagine finding this kid knee-deep in candy bar wrappers, halfway into an all-out candy binge. Caught red-handed, this kid looks up at you, terrified, ashamed, awaiting punishment. What do you do? Do you yell insults at the child? March him or her over to the treadmill to run off every last calorie? Of course not. You’re not Mommie Dearest. With that in mind, let any name calling and punishment stop. You will treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat this child.
Why is this helpful? In his book The Marshmallow Test, psychologist and Columbia professor Walter Mischel describes how emotional situations like this can stay in a heated place, which could lead to more self-destructive or self-punishing behavior. To counter that, it helps to cool your distress by “self distancing” and entering into “cognitive reappraisal.” In other words, viewing yourself from a distance or as another (e.g. a child) helps engage a cool, rational reaction where you can regroup and rebound.
So what should you do to regroup? We’re glad you asked…