Post Holiday Detox
NOTE: This blog was published during the winter holidays, but the information will help you recover from overeating - and detox - at any time during the year.
I hope this past holiday weekend was filled with friends, family, and fun. And, not just filled with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, rolls, cookies, and pie.
Did you eat too much on our Thanksgiving day? Did you find yourself saying, “I really shouldn’t…but oooh that was so good?”
Let me start by saying that if you ate a bit too much on Thanksgiving – or any other holiday for that matter, it’s ok. They are called holiDAYS for a reason. It’s about having fun on a special day.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you overate on Thanksgiving. I love the definition that registered dietitian and renowed author, Ellen Satter offers about “normal eating.” It’s rather long, so I won’t read the whole thing, but it includes this line:
"normal eating is overeating at times and feeling stuffed and uncomfortable and undereating at times, and wishing you had more."
So remember that. It’s normal to overeat on occasion. On occasion.
But are those few holiDAYS turning into holiWEEKS or perhaps holiMONTHS or even holiYEARS?
And, are you perhaps beating yourself up about all that indulgence? Have you started to make yourself promises such as “I’m going to eat it now, because I’m giving up sugar tomorrow or next Monday or on the first of the year?
Maybe you’re even thinking, I need to do something even more extreme to help me to get back to so-called “clean eating”. Are you thinking, “I need a detox?”
If you want to get your eating back in control after a food-filled feast, I've got seven detox tips for you. Not just about what to do…in terms of eating, but many of these strategies have to do with rewiring the brain so you don’t find yourself in this revolving door or overindulgence followed by detox.
1.Set Yourself Up for Success
It's hard to resist temptation when food is everywhere! Now's the time to empty your cupboards from anything that's tempting.
That food gift basket? Drop it off at the homeless shelter. That half a pie? If you've already had plenty yet it's still "calling your name", trash it!
And, if the break room at work is full of food...well, take a walk outside instead. "Out of sight, out of mind" really works.
And, of course, set yourself up for success by stocking your house and office with healthier food options.
2. Rethink food waste
Stop worrying about those starving kids in China or Africa or wherever Mom said they were! Overeating isn't going to help them! Finishing whatever your kids don’t eat isn’t going to help either. Nor will it help to finish off that last spoonful in the pot because you think it’s not enough to put away.
I know…I used to think about food waste in the same way. But here’s how I reframed it.
I realized that all that extra food is either waist or waste. It’s either WASTE – in the trash can. Or you can eat that extra food and it will likely end up as stored fat around your middle or around your "waist."
So, before you take that extra bite, remember, That extra food really does look better in the trash can than on your waist, doesn't it?
I always say, you can "Waste" it or "Waist" It? Frankly, for me, it’s going in the trash can.
And BTW if you’ve got kids or grandkids at home, allow them to honor their body, too. Let’s stop saying things like, “if you eat everything on your plate you can have dessert.” Remember, this is how we got brainwashed about food waste…let’s not pass this onto future generations.
3. Reset that Dieting Mentality
One of the reasons we tend to overdo it on food, especially sweets and other carbs…is that we label these not just less-healthy but as bad foods. And, if we eat them, we are bad, too.
And, it's this vicious cycle of eating those so-called bad foods, followed by beating ourselves up for behaving so bad. Which then prompts us to soothe ourselves with…well, you guessed it, more of the same.
This eat, guilt, repent, repeat cycle continues because we have this unrealistic expectation of what we need to eat to stay healthy. Including thinking that eating any amount of sugar or carbs are bad. It’s all or nothing. We swing back and forth from eating clean and doing everything RIGHT…and then blowing it and overdoing it on those so-called bad foods.
In order to recover from my eating disorder, I had to rewire my brain away from those thoughts. And, you can, too.
You can do this. And, trust me, once you get your brain rewired about this, it will feel so good. You’ll finally be free of so much brain chatter, wasted time dwelling about how to get your weight under control. How to control your cravings.
Stop calling foods bad. In small amounts, they, too, can fit into a healthy diet. Have you read my Pleaser/Teaser blog? In that blog you'll discover that eating a small amount of my favorites actually helped me to recover from my eating disorder. And, I still eat sweets every single day.
And, if you do overindulge, stop labeling yourself as bad. You can admit that you overindulged but YOU are not bad. Instead, spend that same energy to examine why you overate. Were you overly hungry? Were you upset or sad? Is that particular food difficult for you to avoid?
4. Detox with Mother Nature's Help
Don't waste your money on special detox diets, pills or potions. They’re everywhere. Blogs, ads, and posts about fasting, juicing, strict diets to detox. And, they often involve spending money…sometimes lots of money on books, supplements, and pills. Do they work? Ya, temporarily. But, that weight is just water weight…that often comes right back on. And, it sets you up for what we just talked about. The dieting see-saw.
Stop believing all those ads and social media posts that are trying to convince you to get rid of your money.
Your body is quite capable of detoxing itself when you simply eat more fibrous foods and drink more water…and then let Mother Nature do its job. Our intestines, liver, and kidneys are all the tools you need for a real detox.
Just up your fiber intake – which has been called Mother Natures broom. Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help to fill you up - and keep you regular. Reach for 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, plus 3 servings of whole grains.
Try a breakfast of oatmeal, non-fat milk, nuts - and a fresh orange. Enjoy a large salad for lunch (add grilled chicken, salmon, or another source of protein). Then, snack on fresh fruit between meals.
And, don’t forget that all that fiber won’t help without adding more water. Water needs are different for different people – depending on how much they weigh, how much they sweat, and such…but 8-10 glasses is not an unreasonable goal.
But don’t make yourself gulp a glass of water at certain times of the day. Instead, just keep that glass of water by your side and sip on it. Then refill it when its empty.
A good time of the day to start drinking water is right when you wake up. Chances are you wake up and use the bathroom right away. Tomorrow morning, look in the toilet before you flush. My guess is that your urine is not clear. It’s likely darker…and that’s because we wake up dehydrated.
So think about starting the day with a tall glass of water during your morning routine…even before you make yourself that first cup of water.
People often think they need a really big cup of their favorite caffeinated beverage, but what their body is craving is really the water in their morning coffee.
5. Break the Fast
In other words, I want you to eat breakfast. But, before you turn this off, please hear me out.
There’s science to support the important role of breakfast. Helping you to power up your energy, rein in your weight gain and cycles of overeating, and even help with health issues like high blood sugar….which affect nearly half of the adult population.
And, no breakfast doesn’t have to be eaten right when you wake up…but within an hour or two, you should eat breakfast.
Because if you’ve been listening to this podcast or reading my blogs over at DRJO.com, you’ve heard me say before that the human body needs fuel 24/7. Just because we’ve been in bed sleeping for 6, 7, or more hours, doesn’t mean that we shut down.
In fact, even at rest, even at sleep, we are still alive. And, about 2/3 of all the calories we burn in a given day is just to keep us alive. For our heart to beat, our lungs to breathe, and our brain to regulate that – and everything else that needs to be done to stay alive.
So, after sleeping, our body is in need of fuel, in need of food to keep us going.
I know what you’re thinking, “I’ve got plenty of fat on my body to sustain me for many days.” And sure that fat can sustain parts of your body. But, your brain needs glucose. And, plenty of it. This organ in our head, weighing in at just 2% of our body weight uses up 25% of all the fuel we burn in a day…and it requires glucose. And we can not get glucose from fat.
In addition, our body contains just 300-400 calories worth of glucose storage. Which is what the brain used during your nighttime slumber. So, come morning, the brain needs more fuel.
You need breakfast.
Yup, even if you’re not particularly hungry. I know, I know…perhaps that goes against everything you’ve heard before. “If you’re not hungry, don’t eat.”
And, I get that, that perceived lack of hunger is often thought of as physiological, but it’s usually just a habit.
In fact, sometimes that nauseous feeling you have in the pit of your stomach…that is turning you off from food…is low blood sugar. And, food is the best solution.
Think about it. Nearly every baby and young kid eats breakfast. And, then around our teen years, those numbers drop significantly. And, then we find ourselves years later – or maybe decades later, just out of the habit of eating breakfast…or even when we eat breakfast, it’s often our smallest meal of the day.
Now while skipping breakfast – or skimping on breakfast - sounds like a good idea – especially when you've overeaten the night before...let's face it, does that work?
In my experience working with others, the most common pattern of eating is one in which people eat very little during the day….and then overindulge from dinner until bedtime. And, eating late into the evening is associated with more weight gain and health issues. More so than if those same exact calories were eaten during the daytime hours. Find out what time to stop eating HERE.
So often I’ve heard people say, “but if I eat breakfast, I’m hungry again an hour or two later.” And, that leads into my next strategy.
6. Power Up with Protein
The most popular breakfasts tend to be high carb choices – bread, pastry, pancakes, waffles, cereal. Or maybe something sweet like a coffee drink or donut.
And, very little protein.
Too many carbs can cause a roller coaster reaction with your blood sugar – first it goes high, then it drops too low - dropping your energy along with it.
It’s not the carbs that are the problem. Carbohydrates provide our brain with the glucose it needs to function.
But, the wrong type of carbs and too many of those carbs….without protein, is the issue. If you want to know more about the different types of carbohydrates, check out the FAQ blog on carbs in the show notes. From the blog you’ll be able to view a couple of videos about the glycemic index and how that affects blood sugar, your energy, and your weight.
Again, It's ok to eat some carbohydrates, it’s even a good idea to eat some carbs…for a balanced approach, but be sure to add some protein to every meal including soy protein, nuts, lean meats and cheese, eggs, and nonfat yogurt and milk. And, not just a few drops of milk in your cereal or your coffee. The recommendation for lasting energy is eating 20-35g of protein at each and every meal.
If you want to know more about how much protein to eat - and where to find protein, here’s another blog.
Ok, so far we’ve talked about 6 strategies to help you to reset your body back to a more normal way of eating. Setting yourself up for success by cleaning up the environment around you, rethinking food waste, and getting off the dieting see-saw.
We talked about Mother Natures detox of adding more whole foods including fiber…plus more water. Plus starting your day with a healthy breakfast – and adding protein at every meal.
But, let’s face it, it’s likely food, especially now, around the holidays, is likely going to tempt you. So what can you do?
7. Keep your Hands, Feet, and Mouth Busy
My last strategy for your post-holiday detox, is to keep your hand, feet, and mouth busy. This works differently for all of us.
Some people share that when they find themselves tempted to keep eating past that comfortable feeling, they pop some gum in their mouth.
Others benefit by brushing their teeth after eating.
Back during my recovery from eating disorders and overeating, I found it helpful to sip on a cup of tea. That became my signal to STOP eating.
Then again, it might also help to put something in your hand such as a glass or water. Or maybe a worry stone of sorts, because let’s face it, many of us eat when we’re feeling stressed or anxious.
At my desk I have a smooth shell that I pop in my hand and use as a sort of worry stone. Other people have shared they a beaded bracelet that they play with.
But, don’t just think about popping something into your hand or mouth, keeps those feet busy, too. Get moving. It won’t just help you to keep your mind off of eating, it might improve your energy, too.
Research has shown that changing positions while your work can improve your energy and focus. Using a standing desk. Or taking a movement break every so often – maybe every 30 minutes or an hour. Walking down the hall, taking a few flights of stairs, walking around the office, or if you’re at home down the street and back.
Movement might also help your mood. The holidays are supposed to be happy, but oftentimes it stirs up negative emotions instead. Exercise (even walking) has been shown to help people feel better. It’s often recommended as adjunct therapy for depression. And, moving your body more is also will help you to feel strong and confident - even with temptations all around.
Are you frustrated because you can't lose weight? Here's a blog that just might help you to move the needle on the scale.
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